Cornwall Coast Path and Country: Port Quin to Port Isaac (circular) 5 miles – O/S Explorer 106
Steep climbs on the coast path makes this short walk feel much longer.
The little cove of Port Quin declined with the pilchards. Or was it after a great storm in the 17th century that killed the fishermen and forced their women to abandon the place? Or did that happen in the 19th century? All these versions are on the web. I’m inclined to believe it was scarce pilchards, less dramatic as it is. But with Samuel Symons’ 1830’s house that looks like a castle lording it on a hill, it remains a beautiful and blessedly quite (apparently not when Symons was alive) cove great for swimming and delving around in rock pools.
The first part of the walk is along the coast path going east. There’s a metal plaque against a harbourside house pointing the way. Climbing, you get a fine view of the cove and fabulous coastline to the west. After Kellan’s head, it’s fine views east as long as you have the energy to lift your eyes from the one-step-at-a-time steep inclines.
Sea Pinks bordered the path and hung on the granite rocks when I was there. Delightful.
Eventually the not-so-quite cove of Port Isaac comes into view. Port Quin had its moment in the Spotlight when the original Poldark was filmed there in the ‘70s, but I doubt is got as crowded as Port Isaac does now. Doc Martin has a lot to answer for. But regardless of the throng, it retains immense charm.
Once you’ve soaked it in. I suggest a pint in the unspoilt Golden Lion with great ales and a balcony overlooking the harbour and slipway. The little balcony was taken when I got there but they had free bench seat by the window overlooking the slipway and its defensive gun, left over from one of the World Wars.
When you’ve tired of the bustle, head back the way you came, passing what passes in the TV series as Doc Martin’s surgery (it’s that place where everyone’s jostling to get their picture taken). A little further along on the left is a footpath sign inland to Port Quin. Take it.
At the top of the rise there's a stone style into a field with another footpath sign. Follow the one pointing to Port Quin straight ahead despite the only obvious path going left. At the end of the field, drop down the hill to a footbridge over a stream.
Turn right after crossing the bridge and enjoy the shelter of trees for awhile.
The final section is through a well signposted series of farm fields coming out at the lane to Port Quin. Turn right for the short walk back to your car.
Often, I recommend retracing steps on the coast path. The views are worth it. Same applies here, although the inland route is pleasant and saves you a mile and a half which, if you intend walking on to Polzeath, is a good idea. I’ll be posting the walk to Polzeath in the future and suggesting combining this walk to those who like longer treks.
Looking up at Samuel Symons' folly on Doyden Point, I rather regretted his passing. They say his parties were riotous. I like a good party.