The picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac is nestled atop a rugged clifftop with breath-taking ocean views that will impress any visitor.
But for fans of the much-loved television series Doc Martin, the village has an additional charm. The heart-warming show follows the story of a doctor who relocates to a small Cornish village, Portwenn, which is set and filmed in Port Isaac.
The village couldn’t be a more perfect setting for portraying the quiet life by the coast. Fans can walk in the footsteps of the characters, visiting the film locations around the town. Due to the size of the town, it is possible to do a walking tour of many of the film locations in one go. Whilst most of the interior sets were filmed elsewhere, the exteriors to all the familiar buildings are easy to spot.
Here is an overview of some of the most worthwhile locations to visit. (Spoiler alerts)
Fern Cottage (Dr Ellingham’s surgery)
Probably the most recognisable Doc Martin location in Port Isaac is the cottage that houses Dr Ellingham’s surgery in the show. Located just a short walk from the harbour, with glorious views back to the village, Fern Cottage is actually available to rent, when filming is not taking place. So you really can get a sense of how the doctor would have felt waking each morning to views of the harbour.
Buttermilk Confections (Mrs Tishall’s Chemist)
As the only location in the village where the interior was used in the filming, this shop is well worth a visit. Stepping inside you walk straight into the set of Mrs Tishall’s Chemist. The shop’s owner was an extra in the show himself, and there are photos of the cast on the walls inside. It is also possible to purchase a map of film locations here, which is very useful for your tour.
Port Isaac Harbour (Portwenn Harbour)
Enjoy the sea breeze and sand at the heart of the village – its harbour. The slipway, called The Platt, leads down onto it from Middle Street. At low tide you can stroll across the sand to enjoy the view back towards Fern Cottage and Bert’s Restaurant on the hill, as well as the rest of the village to the other side of the harbour.
The Golden Lion Pub
Stop for a pint at the Golden Lion Pub, found right by the harbour. The pub was not only used by the characters in the series, but also frequented by the cast and crew during the filming. A fantastic place to relax after a busy day of treating patients, filming, or indeed sightseeing!
Sea Cove Cottage (Louisa’s House)
Heading up Fore Street from the harbour, you will find the Old School House, which was used as Portwenn School in the show. And a little further up the hill you will recognise a row of pretty cottages on the left, featuring Louisa’s house, Sea Cove Cottage. Between the houses you can catch glimpses across the harbour to the green hills beyond.
Doyden Castle, Port Quin
This miniature castle, high up on the cliffs by Port Quin, is the perfect romantic spot for a season finale. It is here that Mrs Tishell chooses to declare her love for the doctor, who instead expresses his own feelings for Louisa at the end of season 5. Like Fern Cottage, Doyden Castle is also available to rent as a holiday let, and is owned by the National Trust.
St Nonna’s Church, Altarnum
Location for both occasions that Doc Martin stands at the altar, this church will be familiar to all diehard fans. The building dates back to the 15th Century and is situated by the village green and river. The interior of the church is simple but beautiful with vaulted wooden ceilings, stone arches and rustic wooden pews.
Continue to soak up the atmosphere of the TV series by venturing to Bodmin Moor for a windswept walk across the rugged landscape. The moor features regularly throughout the show for farming scenes as Dr Ellingham goes about his rounds. A lovely way to stretch your legs further and explore the surroundings.
Inevitably since the filming of Doc Martin in Port Isaac, the success of the show has shifted the feel of the town, and today it is a popular tourist destination. Nor is it the first time that the town has appeared on the big screen. It was used in the original Poldark TV series in 1970s, as well as in the Shell Seekers mini-series from 2005. Visiting the area, it is easy to see why the village has been chosen so many times to represent this part of the world. It is quintessential Cornwall at its finest. For more ideas of where to visit during your stay, see our page on the top 20 places to stay in Cornwall.