A Mini Day Guide to the Charming & Unique Village of Clovelly, North Devon, UK
Spend a day exploring the postcard perfect village of Clovelly and be whisked away into another time!
This year we decided to explore more of North Devon by going camping. Whilst planning our trip Ian asked if I had been to Clovelly. Clovelly ….. not heard of Clovelly. Naturally I had to google and find out more. I know, we do love our luxury travel but we also love a bit of adventure! In the past I wouldn’t have dreamed of camping, but somehow Ian managed to persuade me a few years ago with a camping trip to France.
Charming Village of Clovelly
This charming and unique fishing village is located on the 400 foot cliffs along the coast of North Devon, with breathtaking views of Bideford Bay. What makes Clovelly unique is the use of cars is prohibited and there are no houses individually owned. The banning of cars has helped preserved this beautiful village. Strolling along the steep cobbled main streets past the pretty white washed cottages is bliss … so peaceful and all you hear is the sound of the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, the chit chatter of the villagers and the odd seagulls squawking by the harbour.
The cobbled street (also known as ‘Up along’ or ‘Down along’) does not allow vehicles since the street is too steep and in the past donkeys were the only form of transport. The pebbles from the beach make up the steep cobbled street and alleyways. Nowadays, donkeys are rarely used for transport and all the produce and goods are brought into Clovelly by sledge. You might be able to spot the sledges beside the houses as you head towards the harbour. The resident donkey is often found at the top of the street munching away on leaves or you can visit the donkeys at the stables.
“Suddenly a hot gleam of sunlight fell upon the white cottages with their grey steaming roofs and little scraps of garden courtyard, and lighting up the wings of the gorgeous butterflies which fluttered from the woodland down to the garden” - Charles Kingsley
The cute white cottages and the quay date all the way back to the 14th century. Clovelly is steeped in so much history with it being once owned by the Queen of England. The Victorian writer Charles Kingsley lived in Clovelly, which inspired him to write the two books ‘Westward Ho!’ and ‘The Water Babies’.
Things to see in Clovelly
1. Wander along the cobbled street and alleyways
When you arrive at the Visitor Centre at the top of the village, make your way down the cobbled street. Be warned that the street is fairly steep and can be very slippery if it’s been raining. Meander your way along the street and through the little alleyways whilst enjoying the picturesque views before finally ending at the harbour and the spectacular view of Bideford Bay. The white washed cottages with the brightly coloured fuchsias are simply ‘instagrammable’! Watch out – you’ll be clicking away to your hearts content!
Tip: Remember to wear comfortable shoes. If you’re dreading the thought of walking back up the steep cobbled street, don’t fret as there’s a Land Rover Service right by the harbour to take you back up to the Visitor Centre (for a small fee).
2. Enjoy the views from The Quay
Walk along the quay where you’ll spot the boats bobbing on the water or pulled ashore; you might even catch a glimpse of the fishermen mending their nets. The quay protects the bay and boats from the strong westerly winds. Even though there has been a drop in fishing, the small fishing boats are still used for herring fishing. Have a bite to eat at The Red Lion pub with views of the bay and watch the world go by.
3. Fisherman’s Cottage
From the New Inn, visit the Fisherman’s Cottage and see how the families lived in the 1930s. Clovelly was a bustling fishing port and almost 70 boats were used for catching herring. It has been noted that one fishing boat hauled 9000 herring in one go! The majority of the early cottages were built from cob and stone.
4. St Peter’s Chapel
Visit this pretty little chapel located in the heart of Clovelly with beautiful paintings, painted by a local North Devonshire artist.
5. Try a Cream Tea at The Cottage Tea Rooms
You can’t visit Devon and not enjoy a Devonshire cream tea! Find a table at The Cottage Tea Rooms and take a break from the steep walk. We stopped by here just to enjoy the stunning views of Bideford Bay whilst devouring our scrumptious scones, smothered with clotted cream and jam. Of course accompanied with a pot of tea! It was super busy but we managed to find a small table in the courtyard … the Lovers Table! Aside from the Devon Cream Tea, the tea room also serves tasty sandwiches, delicious homemade cakes and fishermans and farmers lunches.
6. Cascading Waterfall
Walk along the beach where you’ll find the cascading waterfall from the cliff face onto the beach. Apparently Merlin the magician was born in the cave behind the waterfall!
7. Meet the Clovelly Donkeys
As mentioned before, the donkeys were used to carry goods up and down the cobbled streets in the earlier years and still occasionally carry luggage from the New Inn to the top of the cobbles. The donkeys are found at the top of the street. You can even adopt a donkey – once they are retired they are no longer owned by the state.
8. Clovelly Court Gardens
Explore the manor house and the walled kitchen gardens filled with exotic flowers and numerous vegetables and fruits. The produce grown in the garden are used to supply the Clovelly hotels. You might be able to see Lundy on a clear day from the terrace!
9. Stroll along Hobby Drive
If you’re feeling energetic, then walk along the coast for spectacular views of the bay and the harbour. Walking the other direction, it’s a long walk of around 8 miles past Mouth Mill Cove to Hartland Point. We didn’t have time to take the coastal walk, maybe next time!
10. Take a boat trip
Take a fishing trip or if you’re staying in Clovelly then why not explore Lundy Island for the day.
Where to stay in Clovelly
Why not stay in Clovelly and take your time exploring this beautiful village. There are two hotels in Clovelly; the New Inn Hotel and the Red Lion Hotel both offering rooms with a view of the bay or of the High Street. There are also B&Bs available in the village.
For the best prices, check out Booking.com.
The entrance fees include Clovelly Court Gardens, Fisherman’s Cottage, Kingsley Museum, parking and the 20 minute film show at the Visitor Centre. You can purchase the entrance fee at the Visitor Centre.
Child (7-16): £4.50 (prices correct as of July 2018)
The entrance fees also help towards the cost of maintaining the village.
- Don’t forget to wear suitable shoes when walking along the cobbled streets. Really wouldn’t advise walking in flip flops or high heels!
- With the admission ticket, there’s a 10% discount on cream teas and ‘buy one meal get one half price’ on the specials board at the New Inn Hotel.
- There’s a Land Rover Service if you’re unable to walk back up the street (for a small fee).
We loved strolling through Clovelly and it’s a great day trip in North Devon. The views are breathtaking and you’ll be left with unforgettable memories!
Have you visited Clovelly? What day trips in Devon would you suggest?
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