Doc Martin’s Portwenn: Port Isaac, Cornwall

Doc Martin is a popular British TV dramedy series that features a grouchy, socially awkward surgeon who is afraid of blood.

Doc Martin's Martin Clunes posing with a chicken.

Doc Martin’s Martin Clunes posing with a chicken.

The show’s fictional location of Portwenn is filmed in the supremely beautiful and tiny village of Port Isaac, Cornwall.

lil' bro "looking ill" in front of the building used for Doc Martin's medical practice.

lil’ bro “looking ill” in front of the building used for Doc Martin’s medical practice.
An actor he will not be.

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Port Isaac

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I couldn't believe how green the ocean was here!

I couldn’t believe how green the ocean was here!

Low tide in the harbour.

Low tide in the harbour.

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To get an idea of how small the town is, here’s a (bad) picture of how the buildings are shaped to fit into every cranny of the space between ‘roads’:

Look especially at the building fitting into a narrow corner in the background!

Look especially at the building fitting into a narrow corner in the background!

The village is also home to the very talented and locally-well-known group, the Fisherman’s Friends. The Fisherman’s Friends sing primarily sea-shanties featuring haunting harmonies, and often perform on the beach in Port Isaac’s harbour:

Cornish fishing villages are some of my favourite places to visit. Port Isaac’s ‘fame’ does nothing to detract from it’s quaint beauty.

BOATS!

BOATS!

Penzance and Marazion: Home of St. Michael’s Mount

In Cornwall, England, you can find the most wondrous places.

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At the Southwestern most tip of the island that is Britain resides a town called Penzance. Larger than most seaside towns, Penzance lacks the dated and tacky tourist arcades and pseudo show-gardens like its smaller counterparts (for example, Exmouth, Dawlish and Teignmouth – more on them another time!).

Penzance High Street

Penzance High Street

It has a more actually-lived-in feel, which I prefer to the ghosts of seaside towns past. Penzance is a strange blend of English and ‘tropical’. There are palm trees everywhere! It’s an odd phenomenon. It felt wrong, but somehow right.

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And of course the beach was fantastic. Long and sandy, very characteristic of Southern England.

High tide, so no beach at the moment!

High tide, so no beach at the moment!

There is, however, something that makes Penzance extra-special. The next town over, called Marazion, is the home of the fantastic St. Michael’s Mount. Marazion is within walking distance of Penzance – though I would recommend taking the bus if you are on a schedule!

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The Mount is another plateau (somewhat similar to Tintagel) that rises from the sea just off shore. It is accessible on foot at low tide via causeway. At high tide the only way out is by boat. Why would you want to go out there? Because there’s a castle on it!

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Due to its unusualness and its stark beauty, the Mount has been used for myriad things dating back to the 5th century, including army barracks, a monastery, and a wonderfully defendable castle.

The castle on the Mount

The castle on the Mount

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The views from atop the castle were stunning.

You can see the submerged causeway!

You can see the submerged causeway!

The gate.

The gate.

The gardens have a separate entry fee, which we skipped.

The gardens have a separate entry fee, which we skipped.

When I visited the Mount in the spring of 2012, they were setting up to film a movie called Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box which is due to be released in 2013….

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The old-time style set.

The old-time style set.

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The coolest part about the filming was watching the amphibious bus/terrestrial boat ferry cast and crew back and forth from the set to the mainland.

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We were blessed with excellent weather for our day trip to Penzance, but I think that even with grey skies, this spot should be on the list for anyone travelling in the UK!

On the train-ride back to our home base, a man was playing harmonica and his dogs were singing along. Oh, Cornwall!!

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http://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk

King Arthur at Tintagel, Cornwall

Tintagel is a small Cornish coastal village with one very important claim: it is the alleged birthplace of King Arthur (or according to some sources, the site of his conception – lol).

Not to be mistaken as the mysterious “Camelot,” Tintagel boasts an old castle ruin that mostly dates back to the 13th century, with evidence of Roman habitation as early as the 6th century (www.tintagelcastle.co.uk).

Arthur or no Arthur, the most spectacular thing about Tintagel Castle is its location.

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The Cornish coastline is some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen. The castle is perched atop a plateau that juts out into the ocean. I imagine this being a perfect spot for a castle, as it would be terribly difficult to besiege.

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So many narrow steps! It would be impossible for an army to make an effective attack.

So many narrow steps! It would be impossible for an an effective attack by an army.

So high up!!

So high up!!

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Not much of the castle remains, mostly just foundations. Some of the newer sections of the castle still stand, and are still, in every sense of the word, old.

Foundations

Foundations.

More foundations

More foundations.

Newer section of the castle.

Newer section of the castle.

It's not terrifying at all walking under a broken wall...

It’s not terrifying at all walking under a broken wall…

Slightly scary broken wall.

Slightly scary broken wall.

This hotel is often mistaken as Tintagel Castle by North American tourists who don't understand what 'old' means!

This hotel is often mistaken as Tintagel Castle by North American tourists who don’t understand what ‘old’ means.

Like all good castles, Tintagel had it’s own church. The church was not located on the plateau like the rest of the castle, but on the mainland. That meant if you wanted to go pray, you had to walk all the way down the steps and up again to the church. You had to really want it!

View of the church ruin from the castle.

View of the church ruin from the castle.

View of the castle from the church.

View of the castle from the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

This was my second trip to Tintagel, and I will never, ever get tired of it!

Lil'bro pretending to jump off the cliff.

Lil’bro pretending to jump off the cliff.

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