Are you planning to visit Cornwall, England? Would you like to go on a day tour with a knowledgeable local? If so, I highly recommend Cornwall Discovery.
Barry Pengelly owns and operates Cornwall Discovery. As his surname suggests, he was born and raised in Cornwall. His surname, Pengelly, comes from the Cornish language. According to Barry, Pen means top of the hill. Barry is a Cornish history buff.
Cornwall Discovery can pick you up for your tour anywhere in Cornwall. He drives a very comfortable Land Rover Discovery in which he is licensed to carry up to six passengers. According to Barry, he operates everyday and does his tours all year. Go by yourself or take along your friends.
Barry has a variety of tours listed on his website or he can cater the tour to what interests you. He can take you to filming locations in Cornwall. One tour he lists covers Doc Martin locations and towns in northern Cornwall. He lives outside of Port Isaac where Doc Martin is filmed. Barry was a driver for the actors on Poldark during filming, so he also is very knowledgeable about Poldark locations. He has one tour that covers Poldark filming locations. Visit his website to check out other tours he offers.
I went along with Barry for two days. One day included some locations I asked specifically to see related to King Arthur and other locations worth seeing nearby. Another day, I just asked him to take me to some scenic Coastal towns. We went to St Ives, some Poldark locations, and a few other locations south of there along the coast that included the Minack Theatre and Mousehole. I was very happy with the locations he picked. Barry related some interesting historical information along the way. Cornish history is his passion.
Will you be in Cornwall without a car? If you do have a car, would you just rather see all the best spots in Cornwall that only a local could show you? Then contact Barry at Cornwall Discovery.
Are you familiar with the stories The Sword in the Stone or Excalibur? Have you ever read any of the King Arthur stories or watched any of the movies based on King Arthur? According to the legend, King Arthur was conceived in Tintagel. English Heritage is in charge of the Castle Ruins in Tintagel that are worth visiting and this village has a couple of spots that have served as filming locations for the British TV show Doc Martin.
History of Tintagel and the King Arthur Ties
Tintagel was first linked to King Arthur during the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote a medieval history of kings titled The History of the Kings of Britain.
Tintagel is known for its castle ruins. The ruins that are visible, were built around 1233 by Richard, first Earl of Cornwall. He was the second son of King John of England and brother to King Henry III of England. They say Richard may have built the castle to show his connections with Arthur and the ancient rulers of Cornwall.
Recent archaeological activity started in 2016. Archaeologists conducted excavations of the grounds and found other significant building ruins beneath that either belonged to a wealthy individual or possibly a ruler. They have over the years discovered pottery, glassware, containers that transported olive oil and wine, and luxury objects from distant places along the Meditteranean dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, evidence that a wealthy person or ruler lived on the site. The time frame also fits into the time frame of the legendary King Arthur. Was King Arthur a real person or a legend?
Tintagel is a tourist town on the coast with souvenir shops, restaurants, accommodations, and it has the castle ruins. If you are driving, there are two car parks providing over 100 spaces on the road leading into the village (Fore Street or B3263). You need to purchase a ticket to enter the castle grounds. You can walk different paths on the grounds including crossing a footbridge over to an island. They are currently constructing a new footbridge and most of the grounds will not reopen until sometime in the summer of 2019. The new footbridge is supposed to make the site more accessible. Previously, when you crossed the foot bridge you had to then climb steep narrow steps until you got to a door. Check English Heritage’s website to see what you can access.
Doc Martin Filming Locations
The TV Show Doc Martin has filmed at some locations in Tintagel. They have repeatedly used the Camelot Castle Hotel. According to Kate Kennedy, of Portwenn Online, the Camelot Castle Hotel was used in :
Season 1 Martin meeting with the board about getting a job
Season 5 When they went to a hotel looking for Mrs. Tishell
Season 6 Martin and Louisa’s wedding reception
Season 6 Martin and Aunt Ruth’s lunch
Season 7 Martin and Louisa’s dinner
Season 8 Martin’s meeting with the board about his blood phobia
The Camelot Castle Hotel opened in 1899. In their great hall on the first floor is a replica of the Round Table that hangs in Winchester, England. They have stunning coastal views from some of their rooms and a restaurant on the ground floor.
Another place in Tintagel that has been used as a Doc Martin filming location is the Church of St. Materiana. It is an Anglican Church near the cliffs south of Tintagel Castle. One way you can walk to it is you can follow the South West Coastal Path from Castle Road in Tintagel and follow the path south to the church. Another way is by walking via Vicarage Hill going south from the village. This road does not get a lot of traffic, so it is safe to walk on. This church was used in Season 8 Episode 1, according to Kate Kennedy, for PC Penhale’s wedding. Be careful of going off the footpaths and walking the grounds. There are some signs around warning to be aware off adders. Adders are a poisonous snake. The Church of St. Materiana was used for the outside shots only when they filmed PC Penhale’s wedding. The interior of the church in that episode was St. Endellion close to the village of Port Isaac.
If you are a Doc Martin Fan, check out Kate Kennedy’s website. It has a wealth of information for fans of the show and contains all things Doc Martin. You can access her site at : http://portwennonline.com .
How to Get There From Port Isaac
Tintagel is not far from Port Isaac. The easiest way to get there is to drive or take a taxi. It is officially 6 miles (I guess by how a bird flies), the distance via the coastal path is 9 miles, and by car it’s 10.4 miles. That 10 miles by car can take you more than 20 minutes. If driving, get a good Cornwall road map and stick to major roads. Don’t use Sat Nav/ GPS. GPS will lead you down two-way roads wide enough for one car. It is a strenuous hike on the coastal trail. It is actually labeled a challenging/ severe walk on some sites because the section between Port Isaac and Trebarwith is long and difficult with steep ascents and descents. There is a bus you can catch from Port Isaac to Tintagel, however, it is not direct, you have to switch buses, and it takes over an hour and a half one way. It departs from the Pea Pod in Port Isaac. The buses don’t make many trips per day either.
Whether you are interested in history, the King Arthur legend, or Tintagel’s role as a filming location for Doc Martin, Tintagel is a great spot to visit. It is another Cornish seaside village with stunning views.
Have you ever viewed a TV show or movie and fallen in love with the location of where it was filmed? Have you ever wanted to plan a vacation around visiting that location, possibly getting a chance to see scenes filmed? Many people do just that with a TV show called Doc Martin.
Doc Martin is a British TV show that is filmed in Cornwall, England. In the United States the show airs on Acorn TV online and on some PBS stations. It airs in many other countries. Doc Martin is set in the fictional village of Portwenn. The actual village where many scenes are filmed is Port Isaac. Many fans of the show make the trip from the United States, Canada, Europe, as far away as Australia, and other places to visit the village, some in hopes to catch some filming of the series.
Doc Martin is starting its ninth season of filming in 2019. It has been filmed every other year in odd years. Filming takes place between the end of March up until around the third week of July. If one travels in Port Isaac during the time period filming takes place there is no guarantee they will see filming. They do not film on weekends or U.K. school holiday periods. In 2017 there was a three week period in June they did not film in the village. They also film indoors nearby and in other villages in Cornwall. I was fortunate to see a few scenes of season 8 filmed in 2017.
Getting to Port Isaac From Heathrow by Train
Before you leave, get in touch with a local taxi company. Tell them what day you expect to need a ride. If you are going by plane, many fly into Heathrow in London. There are other options though that are closer, but may take additional flights. Within Heathrow you can take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station. From there you buy a train ticket to Bodmin Parkway. If you buy a ticket for a train with no changes, the trip takes less than 4 hours. Once on the train, email the taxi driver to let them know which train you are on, so they can be there waiting for you at Bodmin station. From there they can get you to Port Isaac. All taxis waiting at Bodmin are usually pre-arranged rides.
The streets are very narrow and steep. It would be a challenge for people with health or walking issues. If you plan to visit, wear comfortable shoes.
Know ahead of time that cell service is spotty at best. You can get a signal /wifi inside some of the restaurants such as the Slipway down near the harbor/platt. I found you could get a signal near the Co-Op. Oddly, when I climbed the sea wall, I was able to get service.
Where to Stay
Since a large percentage of the houses are rentals, there are many options in the village. During filming there may be less options. On the lower price end inside the village is The Gallery. If you will have a vehicle with you, there are many options outside the village in other towns and villages. Path’s End is also an option on the lower end as well as a hostel in Tintagel. I reserved accommodations through Booking.com, however, I have friends who reserved cottages through John Bray Cornish Holidays and were quite happy with their experience.
I recommend parking in one of the lots. There is larger lot at the top of the hill at the edge of the village before you reach the Co-Op and one further down the hill after you turn to go towards Port Gaverne. It is on the left side of the road (sea side). The streets within the village are narrow and not wide enough for two-way traffic in spots. Some accommodations may provide parking such as the Old School House, however, if they are filming exterior scenes for the school you may be asked to park elsewhere. Interior school shots are filmed in another town.
Where to Eat
Port Isaac is a small village, but it has some nice food options. I was happy with every meal I ate during my stay. Since Port Isaac is a fishing village, some restaurants carry fresh catch of the day. There is a Co-Op at the top of the hill. It is a small convenience grocer with a cash machine/ ATM inside. You can find ATMs in larger villages/towns nearby such as Wadebridge, Bodmin, and St. Ives. If you visit between June-August you may need a reservation at some places for dinner. I found some were booked for the night in July. Many restaurants have vegan or vegetarian and gluten-free options. Some establishments that include gluten-free options are: Angry Anchovy (pizza), Nicky B’s Pasty Shop, The Chapel Cafe, the Golden Lion, the Old School Hotel, and the Mote. I ate at all of these locations and can vouch for them. In addition the Krab Pot advertises that they have gluten-free options. There is also a pub in Port Gaverne a short walk from Port Isaac.
Recreation from Port Isaac
There are a few recreational options from Port Isaac. Besides just enjoying the gorgeous views, exploring the tidal pools and swimming, another option is hiking the coastal path which cuts through Port Isaac. However, I do not recommend hiking the coastal path if you have health issues or knee, ankle, or foot issues. It is a strenuous hike. I will mention more about this in another post.
Another option is the walking tour inside Port Isaac. It covers some of the filming locations within the village. You can buy tickets for it at May Contain Nuts. The tour also leaves from there.
Additionally, check out the dates Fishermen’s Friends will perform in Port Isaac. If you are lucky, they will have a concert date in Port Isaac while you are there. If it is not raining, they perform on the platt.
If you are lucky enough to visit when they are filming in the village, be sure to follow directions. They crew tells you where you can stand so you are out of the shot. They let you stand closer when they are rehearsing, but may ask you to move back when they are actually filming. They also ask you not to make noise or take photos when they are rolling as most people’s cameras make noise when taking photos. Listen quietly, otherwise you may interfere with their work.
When they are filming at Mrs. Tishell’s Chemist shop, you may be allowed to watch from the outdoor seating area of The Slipway restaurant if that is not in the background of the shot. Keep in mind, the Slipway is a business. If you are going to sit there, order food and drinks. If you are going to stay a while, keep ordering, otherwise you are hurting their business by taking up spots paying customers could occupy. You may hear tipping is not the same in England as it is in the U.S. I would advise tipping at the Slipway, if you are taking up space.
Whether you travel to Port Isaac during Doc Martin filming or not, it is a great little seaside village to visit.