Clovelly Herring Festival has been included in several pages of the November issue of Country Living Magazine www.countryliving.com/uk/ with words by Lauran Elsden and photographs by Andrew Montgomery. In the vertiginous village of Clovelly in Devon, locals gather by the harbour for the 14th annual Herring Festival. Cue sea shanties, stilt walkers and stargazy pie…
Sadly, the Herring Festival and other events had to be cancelled this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Clovelly Herring Festival always falls in November as it is the time of year when our historic village celebrates the arrival of the great ‘Silver Darlings’, known as herring. We are lucky enough to have shoals of herring arrive in prime condition as they make their journey down through the Irish Sea and into Bideford bay to spawn before moving down towards Hartland.
We celebrate and promote this tasty, nutritious fish whilst supporting our sustainable fishing, using only drift nets and long lines.
The village once depended upon the harvest of herring for a short season off this coast. Records go back over 400 years and in 1749 there were about a hundred herring boats in the port. Those days of massive catches are long gone.
Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, only a few motorboats, Picarooners and rowing boats made their livings from the sea. Shoals of herring were in decline and fishing for them was banned for seven years from 1976 until 1983 to allow the stocks to grow again.
The largest catch since the ban was in 1995 when Stephen Perham, in his 10ft rowing boat, landed 5 mease (3060) of fish. A mease of herring consists of 612 fish. And he is still fishing for Silver Darlings on his Picarooner even today.
Herring festival video, 2016: https://youtu.be/wYjIxb1kEo8