Clovelly Donkeys

A North Devon attraction not to be missed

Mention Clovelly to most people and they’ll straight away say ‘Clovelly donkeys’. Without its donkeys, the village could never have been a successful fishing port. Consequently, it was these sturdy little beasts that carried the heavy baskets.  Culm (coal) was taken to the Lime Kiln and herring taken up the narrow cobbled street to the carriers’ carts at the top. Fitted with special pack saddles,  the donkeys carried building materials, food and drink, and the post in – and carried out the rubbish.

Later Clovelly became a much favoured West Country tourist destination and its two hotels a popular choice for holidays.  The donkeys then carried luggage and visitors to and from the Red Lion and the New Inn.

However, today the donkeys enjoy a much more restful existence, giving rides to visitors’ children during the summer months and posing for photographs in the street. Now the villagers, postmen and suppliers transport their loads down on sledges.

When you walk down the path from Clovelly Visitor Centre you can often see the donkeys in their meadow at the top of the village.  Or  you may spot them in the woods amidst the trees during winter. If you meet them on the cobbles, make sure you pose for a photograph with them. It will make a unique addition to your family photo album!

Sue and Bart Kelly own and look after the donkeys. You’ll find the picturesque old stable just beyond the craft workshops, and sometimes you can see the donkeys there. Well over a hundred years old, the stables were built for horses.  They pulled coaches and carriages up and down the North Devon lanes in the days before the motor cars arrived.

Get involved with Clovelly’s donkeys

If you are looking for fun things to do in Devon, and you are keen on donkeys, Sue and Bart run courses from January to June. These are all part of their mission to encourage people to have fun with donkeys, and to improve the general standard of donkey-keeping. So why not come along and take advantage of a hands-on, day-long course in basic donkey care and management? You and your children might also wish to adopt a donkey for a year for a modest sum. You’ll be given an adoption certificate and have your name on a plaque on the door of your donkey’s stable.

The donkeys are a must-see part of any family visit to Clovelly. So come along to meet them. The donkeys love the attention and your children will be entranced and enthralled.