Mention Clovelly to most people and they’ll straight away say ‘donkeys’.
Donkey stables at Clovelly are almost as old as the village is. These sturdy little beasts carried the fishermen’s herring in mawms (baskets) from the harbour up the narrow cobbled street, as well as other heavy loads for the villagers. Without the donkeys, the village would never have become a successful fishing port. For years visitors could watch the heavy baskets of herring carried from the harbour up-along the cobbled street to the carriers’ carts.
The donkeys had special pack saddles and were an integral part of the team. They brought in fuel, building materials, food and drink, and the post. They also carried out the rubbish and many other hard to move items.
Subsequently, Clovelly became a much favoured West Country tourist destination and its two inns a popular choice for holidays. Hence the donkeys carried luggage and visitors to and from the Red Lion and the New Inn.
Today the donkeys enjoy a more restful existence, giving rides to visiting children in the summer. Make sure you pose for a photograph with them – the donkeys love the attention and your children will be entranced and enthralled. They are a must-see part of any family visit to Clovelly. You’ll find their picturesque old stables below the Visitor Centre and just beyond the craft workshops.