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Cornwall Map

"Village's Doc Martin chaos" screamed the headline in the Western Morning News in August 2008, and I have to say that it wasn't a lot better in September of that year when I visited. Apart from the crowds, the place had changed little from my last visit in 1997, and it is still my favourite place on the whole planet (so far).

The butcher's had closed and the chemist's is now an up-market gift shop, and the place felt rather more affluent than before.

However, Port Isaac is still the quintessential cornish fishing village: narrow streets running steeply down to the harbour, quaint overhanging-buildings and little alleyways, fishing boats and gulls.

As I wrote back in 2004, Port Isaac "... is not adverse to welcoming the grockles. There are some very good restaurants serving locally caught lobster and other shellfish, an excellent pub, the Golden Lion, boat trips, souvenir shops and evening entertainment on the hard (known locally as 'The Platt').

"When we were there, this included a version of the 'Furry Dance', imported from Helston, where the band and all the visitors (and possibly some locals) parade up to the top of the village and back to the traditional tune." The Golden Lion appears to be trying to turn itself, not entirely successfully, into a bistro pub but, apart from that, the village retains its charm despite the crowds

The Pilchard Sheds

Port Isaac's economy was originally based around the pilchard trade, and the old sheds, where young women spent their days gutting and salting the fish, are still to be seen. They now hold a small (three tanks, but only 30p admission) aquarium and a wet fish merchant.

Although the pilchard trade died many years ago due to over-fishing, there is still a small but thriving inshore fishery. Ironically almost everything caught is sent by lorry to Paris, and the local restaurants now have to source their shellfish from Newlyn down the far end of Cornwall.

When will we ever learn!