October 03, 2016

Doc Martin's Port Isaac

Morning skies filled with darkening clouds did not bode well for our visit to the Cornish coast and Port Isaac, the fishing village known as Portwenn on the hit British TV series, Doc Martin. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll recognize locations from the show; if you’ve never watched Doc Martin you may still appreciate the beauty of Cornwall.

The Cornish Coast at Port Isaac

I began my day at the peaceful Two Bridges Hotel in Dartmoor National Park with a traditional English breakfast: scrambled eggs, smoked back bacon, sausage, baked beans, sautéed potatoes, plum tomato, black pudding and hog pudding. I couldn't eat it all.

Traditional English Breakfast

Meanwhile the inn’s resident geese gathered at the entrance and sheep grazed on a distant hillside. I strolled to one of the two bridges that gave the inn its name and then boarded our Back-Roads Touring motor coach to the Atlantic coast and Cornwall.

Two Bridges Hotel

We soon left behind the county of Devon and entered Cornwall. The narrow country lanes are hemmed in by lush hedgerows and barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. It wasn't long before the rain fell.

Cornwall, or Kernow in Cornish

Cornish Hedgerow

With my umbrella in one hand and camera in the other, I began my tour of Doc Martin’s Port Isaac. (Please excuse the raindrops in the photos.)

P.C. Joe Penhale's Police Station

The Coastal Path

The Platt or Slipway

Fern Cottage (second from left),
Doc Martin's House and Surgery

Louisa's House (blue door, centre)

Fern Cottage

View of the Village from Fern Cottage

The Buttermilk Shop,
Mrs. Tishell's Pharmacy

Port Isaac Fish Market

Harbour at Low Tide

Bert Large's Restaurant (lower left)

The Old School Hotel and Restaurant,
Portwenn School

The Golden Lion Pub,
The Crab and Lobster

I’m a big fan of Doc Martin so I was thrilled to be walking through “Portwenn”. I almost expected the grumpy doc to barrel past me in a huff!

Next to Fern Cottage on Roscarrock Hill is the family-run Port Isaac Pottery. There were no birds to add to my collection but I couldn’t resist a vase embellished with shimmering fish. The pottery is hand-thrown by Bill Hawkins and his wife Barbara paints each piece in a lovely watercolour style.

Port Isaac Pottery

Port Isaac Pottery Vase

Gallery Gift Shop

I wish I could’ve spent more time exploring the narrow streets of Port Isaac but a special lunch awaited us at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. Famed British chef Rick Stein owns several eateries, from his flagship restaurant in Padstow to simpler takeaways across Cornwall.

The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

I ordered Lobster and Fennel Risotto, Fillets of Cornish Sole, and Tiramisu for dessert. I especially liked the creamy risotto, which rivalled the memorable Seafood Risotto I’d had on my first visit to Venice. Platters of fresh vegetables completed the meal and the delicate courgette flowers were a special treat. Good food, good wine, and good conversation – what a perfect way to pass a rainy afternoon in England!

Lobster and Fennel Risotto with Lemon Oil

Fillets of Cornish Sole with Pancetta and Beurre Noissette

Minted Cornish New Potatoes

Glazed Baby Carrots with Parsley and Tarragon

Deep Fried Courgette Flower Tempura

Tiramisu with a Coffee Anglaise and Chocolate Crumb

Well-fed and happy, we travelled on to Merchants Manor in the port town of Falmouth. After two large meals I wasn’t much interested in dinner so we settled in the welcoming sitting room and shared a cheese board instead. I now have another favourite cheese: Helford White, a soft white artisan cheese from Treveador Farm Dairy on the Helford River. If you ever visit Cornwall you must sample this British Cheese Awards gold medal winner.

Merchants Manor, Falmouth

Fragrant Stocks in the Corridors

In the morning we would start exploring more of the coastal villages of Cornwall, an open-air theatre built into the cliffs, and a medieval castle on an island. I had to wonder, would rain once again interfere with our plans?


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