Port Isaac cottages leading down to the harbour. The North Cornwall Coast at its best. Still a working fishing village. White washed cottages, narrow streets (opes) leading down to an ancient sheltered harbour and beach protected by a breakwater dating from medieval times. Many of the former fishermen's cottages in the older part of the village (a conservation area) are now Cornwall holiday lets. Port Isaac, with its fishing boats, two inns, shops, and an aquarium. For the freshest fish visit the fishmongers in the former pilchard cellers. Can you find the quaintly named Squeezebelly Alley? Car drivers will find parking at the top of the village and on the beach at low water- make sure you move your vehicle before the tide comes in- yes people do forget. Update: thanks to the popularity of a certain British TV Doctor series the village has become even more crowded with parking and accommodation at a premium in peak season. Visitors are even discouraged from trying to drive down to the harbour.
Along the coast path heading south is Port Quin, once a bustling fishing community. Local folklore is that sometime in the 18th century all the men were lost at sea and the village was then deserted. Reality was that making a living became more and more difficult causing the village to be abandoned. Several of the cottages are now owned by the National Trust and rented out to tourists. Or head northwards to Boscastle and Tintagel, stopping off first at Port Gavern, with crab boats on the slipway and a small low water beach with lots of rock pools to explore. Fish cellars (not open to the public) in the village behind.
Coast of Cornwall Section.
Feeling fit? From Port Isaac continue to walk north along the Cornish Coast Path to Trebarwith Strand. A hundred years ago or more coasters carrying limestone and coal from South Wales would beach at low tide, making the return sailing loaded with local slate. Slate was worked from these cliffs for hundreds of years. The coast is dotted with slate quarries, the remains of the splitting sheds and the anchor blocks of the donkey powered winches used to lift the slate out and ready for splitting. Many of the paths are in fact old donkey tracks, hence their narrowness. Field hedges are often composed of slate laid in a herringbone pattern unique to the Tintagel Area.
The most dramatic of the quarries is Lanterdan where a massive pinnacle of slate rises 60 feet from the disused Quarry floor, waves lashing in far below. A mile or so up the valley from Trebarwith Strand is the Prince of Wales Slate Quarry, whose ponds and spoil heaps are now a peaceful and little visited nature reserve. The Quarry's pumps were steam powered and the well preserved mine engine house is a prominent feature of the valley skyline.
The Coast Path throughout Cornwall offers superb scenery, no more so than the stretch from Padstow to Bude and beyond to the Devon- Cornwall Border. Mention must be made of commercialised Tintagel North Cornwall, well worth a visit walk out to the ruins of the 12th century Castle. The cliffs overlooking the sea spectacular views are to be had.
South beyond Port Isaac the path follows the Coast, don't forget to look back over your shoulder into the village- one of the nicest views on the coast. Then on around Carnweather Point, hence to Port Quinn. On to the Rumps with fine views to the Islands offshore, home to a few puffins, standing guarding the mouth of the Camel Estuary.
The surf beach of Polzeath. Lovely St Enodoc Church hidden in a fold in the sand dunes, burial place of Sir John Betjeman, who fell in love with this part of North Cornwall. To Rock popular with sailors. Take the foot ferry to Padstow.
For over 15 years now, from June to September Fishermen's Friends have been giving concerts on the Platt on a Friday evening. These are now held fortnightly to avoid the incoming evening high tides, to quote their own website "which even King Canute could not hold back." On a balmy summers night there is nothing better than standing listening to this long standing group of friends as they sing sea shanties with a thorough dollop of wonderful Cornish humour thrown in !
Copyright Cornish Light 1998-2023
Site Design and Maintenance