A UK Coastal Trip – Port Isaac

I am back on it now. I have travelled through all the remaining coastal settlements of the West Country and of Wales, so all the images and the blurb are mine.

Polzeath

A small seaside resort, Polzeath’s wide, sandy beach is popular with families and surfers. Cars park directly on the sand and offload their youngsters into numerous surfing schools dotted around the shore. Other families take their beach-paraphernalia to their spot, marked out with windbreaks and cool boxes. Surfing school staff and life savers give an air of authority in case anyone is feeling nervous about entering the distant sea. Steaming tea and bacon rolls are available from the cafes and stalls, providing further comfort.

Port Quinn

Port Quin is an unspoilt cove sitting in a deep inlet that faces the Atlantic. Narrow and sheltered, its beach is only accessible at low tide when rock pools appear. Forming a natural harbour, Port Quin, like villages close by, once had a thriving pilchard fishing industry. There was mining here too, but over the years both went into terminal decline with the village eventually becoming deserted. The cove and village have been  re-energised and both are now run by the National Trust. It a quiet and peaceful spot that is popular with experienced walkers and those taking part in snorkelling and kayaking. On my visit, a small van was making good quality, bespoke coffee in the small car park.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac is all very quaint and photogenic. The time to visit is out of season otherwise the narrow streets and eateries are swamped by visitors, to the extent that cars are parked all the way up the roads running down and through the village. A well-known set for TV and film, one almost expects familiar members of the cast to be seated in the pub with a bevy or beer in his/her hand. Yep, it happened when I was there! In the centre of the village, numerous restaurants and eateries offer seafood menus, landed by the boats that moor in the harbour or are dragged up onto the small slipway. Reservations are essential all year round.

The village was a busy coastal port from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th Century by which time it was an active harbour handling stone, coal, timber and pottery. Fishing and fish-processing have always been important. The centre consists of narrow alleys and ’opes’ winding down steep hillsides, lined with white washed cottages and granite, slate fronted houses.

Tintagel

Tintagel is a busy village with numerous attractions to pull in the passing tourist. The most well-known is Tintagel Castle – a Cornish castle with links to the legend of King Arthur. A spectacular new bridge links this island fortress to the mainland. The castle ruins, covered in lichen and tufted grass, cling to the cliffs. A life-size bronze statue of an ancient regal figure keeps watch over the wild seas below.

Boscastle

Quaint, picturesque, white-washed cottages line the stream that gurgles down to the harbour and the sea. In 2004 flash floods caused terrible damage.

Before the railways, Boscastle was a thriving port, serving much of North Cornwall. The harbour, sheltering from the weather and sea behind crags and outcrops, is a natural inlet protected by two stone walls, built in 1584.

Crackington Haven

This is a lovely shingle cove dominated by majestic cliffs. Golden sands & rock pools are exposed at low tide. Until the 19th century, it was a small port handling limestone, coal & local slate. The village car park, at the mouth of a gurgling brook where it spreads over the beach, is partially circled by a cluster of houses, a few being B&Bs, an inn, and an excellent cafe.

Widemouth Bay

The beach is a wide expanse of open sand with fingers of rock all that remains of eroded headlands. This exposed stretch of coast, faces west, straight into the full force of the Atlantic.

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