Port Isaac 2009 – Is the Doctor in?

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Travel

Long before we travelled to the Land of the Free we had 2 overseas trips to the UK thinking we would feel more at home there – which we didnt but that is not the point of this. On the first trip we travelled to James Herriott territory( a story for another day) and on second trip in 2009 travelled to Doc Martin territory. When you travel to USA you are drawn to the iconic structures that feature in the shows/movies – for England , at least , it is more a case of immersing yourself in the countryside and life at least for me. Doc Martin is set in the idyllic little seaside village of Port Isaac and so we headed off one fine morning and as we passed through Wiltshire to get to the Cornwall Coast we stopped at Stonehenge for the obligatory photo op. One thing you find in England is you pay to park and you pay to visit all of these historic sites (cf USA) and so we stopped across the road – after all if I need to get up and close with some useless stones cobbled together I need only slip my hand in my jocks!

You know you are approaching Port Isaac when the roads start to narrow worryingly. You know you have reached Port Isaac when you are in the middle of the road and can’t open your car door! Don’t get me wrong it is a lovely little village to walk around but next time we will be dropped in by helicopter. How they film a TV show here is beyond me. We had chosen the lovely Hathaway House which overlooked the inlet and was appropriately close to Fern Cottage – the good doctor’s surgery. People who have watched the show would recall the narrow road outside said surgery. As Hathaway House is located at the end of this road on the hill it was time to close your eyes, hang on, flatten the accelerator while strategically having one hand hovering over the horn

It is a superb location to look back over the bay and the town. B&B is the way to go in England and we had already had some wonderful experiences with the very hospitable hosts up to now. Our hostess here while very helpful most of the time gave us the distinct impression we were putting her out somewhat with our requirement for a slightly earlier breakfast next day as CLP (who was not the driver) had planned some excursions in the area! The lady of the house was very changeable though because next time you met her she could not have been nicer. The other aspect of these B&Bs is that to get the great views you often have to carry rather heavy suitcases up some narrow and winding staircases and we often wondered if the last set of stairs led to Ruprecht’s room! It was a glorious day so it was time to climb to the top of the hill and look back down on the beautiful vista. Then on to the good Doctor’s surgery and see if we could pick out a few other recognisable spots. The “Surgery” was under repair so had to settle for sitting on the doorstep and waiting for the chavs to walk past – damn they must have been actors!

It was such a beautiful day we (ie non driver CLP) decided to travel the relatively short distance to Tintigel Castle, a medieval “fortification” on the peninsula of Tintagel Island. It is certainly stunning rugged coastline and as with many areas around here had associations with Arthurian times. The sun was setting as we made our way around the rocky landscape which took a little longer than planned as we headed in the wrong direction to begin with! There was not much “fortification” to see as was common with most of these historic sites but still it was a very pleasant walk with the beautiful backdrop of the ocean in the background.

We then decided to drop by the fishing port of Padstow on our way home for some fish and chips at Rick Steins. It was still daylight on our trip there and it was certainly a beautiful setting to chow down on some over-priced fish and chips. So it had been a full first day and all we had to do now was find our way back to Port Isaac in the dark. Never fear we had our reliable Tom Tom GPS system. Lesson number 1 for driving around rural England – the shortest route is never the best route especially when a friggin tractor is coming the other way on a road barely wide enough for our car. A road map is a better option than a GPS at least in rural England. Thank me there only hedges at the side of the road and not stone walls!

Next morning it was up bright and early to head off on our day trip on a rather overcast and dreay day – nice and early meant less cars and more importantly less pedestrians to avoid on our way through the maze cleverly disguised as a series of connected “roads” giving the word its most liberable interpretation. First off it was down to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Not sure why anybody bothered finding them in the first place but it was a pleasant enough wander around for an hour in plenty of green stuff but for 50 quid it was nothing special. Next stop was the Eden Project which was suitably impressive and would be a great place for the family with inquisitive young children. I know all I want to know about everything so while it is certainly an admirable project and charity it didn’t hold a lot of attention for me.

Time for some more Arthurian legend stuff on the way home. First stop was Dozemary Pool – the site of “the lady of the lake” legend where Sir Bedevere apparently threw in Excalibur.
I suggested to CLP if she dove in she could get lucky and wrap her hands around a cold hard shaft for the second time in one day. Showing amazing strength for one so slight she hoisted me aloft to re enact the “tossing of the tosser” as she playfully referred to it but luckily I slipped away at the last minute.
Next stop was the site of some famous battlefield and also the site of King Arthurs Stone. Luckily there was abridge near by for the re enactment of the Black Knight scene

Back home we had a very passable pub meal – The Large restaurant as depicted in the show is not a working restuarant – and then had a leisurely stroll around the town. The view from HH both late at night and early morning was magical. The next day was spent relaxing around time – at last! – and then a very pleasant meal at The School House which is actually an upmarket restaurant. So all in all Port Isaac was exactly as advertised and Hathaway House was a great place to take it all in. Not sure why Doc Martin is such a grumpy prick really

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