Discover the timeless village of Clovelly, where the steep, cobbled street tumbles down past gleaming white cottages to the tiny, deep-blue harbour.
Clovelly Court Gardens lie within the old walled gardens of Clovelly Court. You will find them a complete contrast to the bustle of the village, so enjoy their tranquility and beauty. Every visit is different in this ever changing garden. The kitchen garden is the main feature along with the colourful herbaceous borders. The beautifully restored Victorian glasshouses shelter an array of Mediterranean fruits such as Victorian white peaches, apricots, melons, grapes, oranges and lemons.
You can buy vegetables, fruit, plants and cut flowers in the little shed shop in the gardens. You can also buy them at the Visitor Centre. The entry charge to Clovelly includes free admission, but if you only wish to visit the gardens, there is a small admission charge. Park outside the entrance gates to Clovelly Court, then follow the signs. They lie next to All Saints Church. The gardens are open from 1st April to 30th September. You are welcome to bring dogs on leads.
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 New Inn.
Today the donkeys enjoy a more restful existence. 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.
Clovelly Visitor Centre is modelled on a traditional Devon long barn. The interior is light and spacious.
You’ll find a popular café where you can sit on the terrace and enjoy fantastic views of the North Devon coast and Bideford Bay.
There are shops where you can buy a range of gifts, including bargain-priced books, jewellery, souvenirs of your visit, and delicious home-made fudge.
Before you leave to set off down into the village accessibility can be challenging. We have created an accessibility guide to help you with your visit.
Also do watch the must-see 20-minute film of the village’s fascinating history. Visitors say that it adds hugely to the enjoyment of their visit.
Suspended from the Clovelly visitor Centre ceiling you’ll see a fishing boat unique to Clovelly and a faithful replica, the ‘Picarooner’. With its shallow draft, rounded bilges and high transom the boat can get out to sea faster and return earlier on the tide.
This was very much stealing a march on bigger boats in their pursuit of Clovelly’s tasty herrings, the ‘Silver Darlings’.
After leaving the Visitor Centre, do visit the craft workshops and donkey stables in the Lower Yard, before reaching the cobbles that welcome you into the village.
Refreshments are always available at the New Inn or enjoy one at the Red Lion on the quay.
The entrance charge helps keep this ancient village open and safe to the public.
It also includes parking, admission to the film show, Charles Kingsley and Fisherman’s Cottage museums.
Charles Kingsley was the Victorian author of ‘The Water Babies’ and Westward Ho! who lived in the village.
You are also free to visit Clovelly Court Gardens at the top of the village.
A day out or short break at Clovelly is always hugely enjoyable.
Do come along and see what the village has to offer for the perfect family day out.
Wilderness Summerhouse perches on a lofty outcrop called the Wilderness promontory. In order to find this special place, walk along the coast path to the west of Clovelly. This historic Summerhouse, built in 1820 and restored twice, overlooks Mouthmill Cove. Hence it is one of Clovelly’s most romantic spots and was much favoured as a wedding location. The last restoration in 2008 led to it winning a civic conservation award on its completion.
As part of the restoration, particular attention was paid to the use of local materials, including fine Delabole slates.
Consequently its highly popular for romantic outdoor celebrations.
Craft Workshops in Clovelly fit beautifully into the Custodians ethos behind the drive to keep the village as the historical, thriving, working village it is today.
The Silk Shop has an array of colourful scarves and beautiful hand-printed fabrics. These are mainly the creations of the distinguished textile designer, Ann Jarvis. One of the highlights in Ann’s collection is the Rex Whistler range. The celebrated artist, Rex Whistler (1905-1934), created the ‘Clovelly’ Toile de jouy design for his friend, Christine Hamlyn. They depict six charming views interspersed with vignettes of flowers and maritime objects.
Ann and her husband moved to and opened the Silk Shop at Clovelly after she had been head of the design studio team at Liberty of London Prints for 10 years. Ann and her daughter, Ellie, later taught Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer how to print silk-velvet devoré scarves. Shown on the ‘Kirstie and Phil’s Perfect Christmas’ broadcast on Channel 4.
The Pottery Shop was established in 1992 by Clive Pearson. Clive is well-known in the North Devon area for his use of vivid colours on his beautifully glazed and hand-thrown pots. He hand-engraves and dates each pot individually. It thus gives all his customers unique memories of Clovelly and Devon. When browsing the shop, choose Clive’s own or other famous Devon and West Country potters’ beautiful pots and a range of high-quality decorative ceramics and domestic ware.
Sarah Harper of The Soap Company Shop has real passion for making natural, ethical, sustainable soaps. She had previously supplied all her natural high quality soap to local and high-end London retailers when living in London. She and her husband then decided to decamp from London to take a home here in Clovelly. This move actually inspired her to take lots of fresh inspiration from the beautiful surroundings. The range now on sale includes natural, botanical and popular seaweed soaps, fragrant candles, bath bombs, beard and shaving soaps and much more.
Guided tour starting point is at the top of the village and your personal opening to a mine of information about village history. It also opens you up to the village traditions.
Jana, from Canada, was so passionate and enthusiastic to guide visitors through the village, making Clovelly such a unique place to visit in North Devon.
Brad Brunsdon, who acted as Charles Kingsley during the Kingsley Bicentenary, has now been taking over the tours since 2020, whilst Jana Edwards is away. Brad also loves sharing his knowledge and you will come away with stories and information that make the village tour an exceptional experience.
Please always pre-book your tour and call the Visitor Centre: 01237 431781 or email email@example.com.
Lundy (Norse for island of puffins) lies twelve miles off the coast from Clovelly. This three and a half mile-long granite outcrop sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, with nothing but sea between it and North America, three thousand miles away. You can book a trip there from the Quay at Clovelly
Once on the Island you can wander along the cliffs and enjoy superb scenery and sea views. When you get tired you can make for the Marisco Arms where you’ll find delicious food. Much of Lundy is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and a magnet for nature lovers. Watch out for some of the more unusual seabirds such as fulmars and raptors, like peregrine falcons, and down below, seals.
Cliff and coastal walks along this unspoilt coastline are situated in stunning coastal, woodland scenery. Enjoy a gentle stroll along Hobby Drive to the east. It winds through glorious woodland with spectacular views of the sea and harbour far below.
Hobby drive is a three mile long driveway. It was created by Sir James Hamlyn Williams as part of the Romantic Movement of the early 19th century. Named “Hobby Drive” as it became an all-consuming hobby between 1811 and 1829. It is a flat, easy walk along a wide track, but can be muddy and pot-holed. So before setting off from Clovelly village make sure you wear the right footwear!
The South West Coastal path to the west is a fairly leisurely ramble along this dramatic coastline. It passes by the magnificent Gallantry Bower headland rising 400 feet above the sea.
View Black Church Rock with its two vast windows carved through it by the tides at Mouthmill Cove. It is on the way to the Hartland penisula and was once the haunt of smugglers and many shipwrecks.
Clovelly countryside is rich in wildlife and carefully managed to ensure that it is kept in its natural condition. Home to badgers, Roe deer and a variety of birds, butterflies and small mammals. There are lovely seasonal displays of foxgloves, primroses, and bluebells.
Queen Victoria Fountain is set into the whitewashed wall at the top of Clovelly’s cobbled street. Its designer and sculptress was Countess Feodora Gleichen, cousin of Queen Victoria.
Lady Gleichen was the first female member of the Society of Medallists and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. Elected posthumously 1922, she was also the first female member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
It is a recognised fact that she was a very strong influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement of her time. Therefore this fountain is a stylish piece of work in Mansfield stone. In addition to the head of the monarch, there are swans with wings outstretched and a bowl created in the shape of a scallop shell.
The stone fountain is in memory of Queen Victoria [b. 1819, d. 1901]. Commissioned and raised here by Christine Hamlyn in 1901.
Lady Gleichen exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and her celebrated statue of Artemis stands in Hyde Park, London.
This is one of two fountains in the village and both are well worth a visit. So don’t miss our Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee fountain beside the Visitor Centre on the way down.
The New Inn is in the very heart of Clovelly, lying half way down the famous cobbled street. From its inception in the 17th Century, it has had a colourful life having been rebuilt and refurbished many times. Yet it has stayed faithful to the original style of the fabled English designer, William Morris’ Arts and Crafts. Many famous people have passed over the threshold, from authors, artists, actors to Prime ministers.
The New Inn is a choice for day visitors and for North Devon holidays and short breaks. The bedrooms are bright and airy and full of individual character following the arts and craft design and these days they each have en-suite bathrooms. Eight rooms offer sea or village views. One has its own private balcony with delightful views of ‘Up-a-Long’ the cobbled street. Three others open out onto a spacious balcony that also overlooks the street, ‘Up-a-Long’ and ‘Down-a-Long’.
Mount Pleasant sits on this grassy knoll, and is known locally as Peace Park. This is a popular picnic spot for visitors to Clovelly. There are benches to sit upon with spectacular views across Bideford Bay.
The memorial was erected by Christine Hamlyn, owner and benefactress of Clovelly, in memory of the village men who lost their lives during the First World War. The cross is a memorial to her nephew, The Hon. John Manners. Mount Pleasant was then donated to the National Trust by Mrs Christine Hamlyn in 1921, for the use of the village in perpetuity. Her gift is commemorated on a plaque.
With such wonderful views, Christine Hamlyn wanted people to enjoy this spot. Hence she created a small shelter, which has been restored. So visitors and residents are able to stop and enjoy views from there across Bideford Bay too. There is also a wheelchair accessible bench above.
Methodist chapel building with its whitewashed walls dates from around 1820. During the 18th century John Wesley inspired a strong Methodist movement in the West Country. His sermons were aimed at the heart as well as the mind. They seemed to make a direct appeal to Clovelly’s fishermen. Consequently they looked on the chapel more as a home than a church.
These days the chapel, with its serene interior washed a lime green, is a haven of peace away from the bustle of the village street.
The Methodist chapel has a fascinating video to watch.
There are two chapels in the village and one church at the top of Clovelly. The chapels and working at sea became the same to those souls as fishing could be so treacherous in those days. Consequently it was not unusual for fishermen to pop into a chapel in those days prior to going out to sea. They also did the same on their return, mainly to give thanks for a safe trip. Clovelly has had many terrible losses at sea, however thankfully they have become significantly less today.
Kingsley Museum is where you’ll meet Charles Kingsley sitting at his desk. Listen to the celebrated actor and Clovelly resident, Joss Ackland, reciting one of Kingsley’s most moving poems. ‘The Three Fishers’ is a poem of their wives waiting in vain for their husbands to return during a terrible storm. It is a stark reminder of the harsh realities faced by fishing communities.
Charles Kingsley lived in the village as a child and returned many times as an adult. He stayed at what is now known as ‘Kingsley Cottage’ where he wrote ‘Westward Ho!’. Clovelly also inspired him to write ‘The Water Babies’.
Two rooms with informative displays give insights into Clovelly’s history and Charles Kingsley’s links with Devon. And there is a shop where you can buy a souvenir of your visit. Along with a range of old-fashioned sweets, such as dolly mixtures, jelly babies, liquorice and humbugs.
‘The Three Fishers’, by Dan Britton, is a song adapted from the poem. In 1839, 21 men from Clovelly were lost at sea. They included three of his Britton family members; James Britton and his sons, John and James.
St Peter’s Chapel lies in the heart of the village. It was long used as a place of worship and then consecrated as a chapel on 29th of November 1948. This was at the behest of the vicar of the parish at the time, the Reverend A. S. Chandler.
Inside the Chapel are the most colourful murals painted in the 1990s by the well-known North Devon artist, Fiona Balfour. It is such a pretty and peaceful chapel along the path past the Kingsley Museum.
St Peter’s is the focal point of parishioners in the village who cannot manage the climb to the parish church. Thus it offers support and comfort to the community.
Fisherman’s Cottage is traditional. It is built in cob and stone and lies just past the Kingsley museum.
Come inside the cottage to see how a Clovelly fisherman and his family lived in the 1930s.
First of all, you will see a parlour decorated with domestic treasures of the period, such as simple cottage furniture, pictures, religious engravings, china and ornaments.
Then a tiny kitchen, which is plain, but full of period charm.
Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one small and the other even smaller. Above there is an attic with straw mattresses.
You will find the cottage packed with fascinating information and old photographs, which give a vivid picture of Clovelly’s fishing heritage.
You can view an unplastered wall in the downstairs room to show how it was made. The bottom layer is stones from the beach and the layer above of cob (earth mixed with a little straw).
It is also interesting to see a typical village well in the front room. Clovelly’s water was once supplied by such wells.
This fascinating cottage is well worth a visit as it offers you valuable insights into Clovelly’s rich fishing past.
As fishing is the very core of Clovelly, come in and find out more.
Oberammergau Cottage, named after a town in Bavaria, has beautiful wood carvings around the door and window.
Created over 100 years ago, it is one of the most decorative cottages in Clovelly. The wood carvings originated from the Bavarian town of Oberammergau. Christine Hamlyn went to see their famous Passion Play in 1910 and brought back many artefacts. The German town is also famous for its skilled wood carvers. She took such a great liking to these special carvings, she had these commissioned.
Traditional skills, like these, have been retained and passed on to future generations. Consequently, Oberammergau is now home to the Bavarian State Woodcarving School. Thus, they now have over 120 woodcarvers working and training at the school.
These lovely carvings with fruits and flowers complement the flower displays that usually adorn this pretty cottage.
Donkey Shoe Shop
Cottage Tea Rooms is a private business that sits in the heart of the village. Find it on your way Down-along to the harbour (or on your way back Up-a-long!). Take a break and enjoy some welcome refreshments at these popular tea rooms. Choose from a range of delicious lunches and light snacks. There are mouth-watering Devon cream teas on offer, with scrumptious home-made scones and lashings of clotted cream and jam. This delightful village tea shop is full of period charm. Outside, the sunny sheltered courtyard offers you spectacular views across Bideford Bay and the garden overflows with colourful cottage flowers and exotics.
There are many places in Clovelly that serve a delicious section of food and drinks . These are designed to help enhance your visit to the village and will, we hope, help complete the experience.
Look-out or Crows Nest, as many people call it, is situated down the village street overlooking Bideford Bay. In days gone by, the wives and families of Clovelly fishermen would gather there. Thus watching nervously for sight of their loved ones returning. The currents and waves along with darkening skies always caused much anxiety to all left on land.
These days it just offers visitors a perfect vantage point. So benefit from the walk, sit on the bench and just watch the world go by. Overhead you can watch the gulls glide by, busying themselves scavenging.
The Look-Out is a rare flat area in the village at the end of Oberammergau Cottage. It has a stunning panoramic view around the bay all the way to Saunton Sands and Baggy Point. Use the telescope for close-up views.
The Quay shop serves locally-made pasties, ice-creams and other food and drink. It’s ideal if you are looking for a quick take-away snack to enjoy on the quay whilst you savour the bustle of the harbour and distant views of Bideford Bay and the coast and cliffs. Please note that the opening times are seasonal, so do check with the Visitor Centre.
Great shop for crabbing! Everything you might need can be bought here along with spades when the tide goes out.
The Sail loft is a conversion of an old store adjacent to the Red Lion. It once used to store the Coastguard gig rowing boat, a grain store, fishing tackle and even a cobbler’s shop.
With the decline of Clovelly’s fishing fleet, it soon started to fall into disrepair.
In 2011 this Grade II listed building was sensitively restored. The project involved the use of local materials from the South West. Reclaimed Delabole slate was used on the roofs and reclaimed stone from the original building in lime mortar was used to face the building.
New facilities have also been provided so that sustainable fishing may continue at Clovelly. There are several fishermen’s stores next to the Sail Loft, with cold rooms, flake ice machines and vivier tanks.
The main part of the building has been converted into six stylish bedrooms, which are now the Red Lion’s luxury bedrooms. With its history, position and the quality of the rooms, the Sail Loft will be a perfect place in which to enjoy the charm and peaceful atmosphere of Clovelly.
Altogether a most pleasing and practical work of preservation, which cares for the inherited landscape and sustains a living community. Clovelly is proud of what has been achieved and looks forward to its many visitors enjoying these charming changes.
This archway was originally a shelter for the Clovelly donkeys. It is also a home above for a Clovelly resident.
A Devonian shoemaker lived in same during Victorian times. He could be seen sitting outside, repairing villagers’ boots and shoes at his open door under the archway. We know that he was always keen to have a chat, entertain visitors in conversation, and was the village gossip.
Temple Bar became popular with artists, such as J M W Turner, when he visited the village in 1811. He made sketches of it and many other aspects of the village in the art book he always carried with him.
Portmeirion, the picturesque village created by the architect, Clough Williams Ellis, had been inspired by Clovelly when he designed the village. The cottages with archway in the centre of the photo below is very similar to Clovelly’s Temple Bar.
The Lime Kiln produced lime for various uses between the 14th and 19th Centuries. Transporting lime was difficult during the pre-industrial era. So it was shipped from Wales, to small ports along this coast.
Burning lime has been an industry at Clovelly since the 14th century. Limestone burning became an important part of North Devon’s economy during the 18th and 19th centuries.
It has many uses as an element in the making of agricultural fertilizer, also as a stabilizer in mud renders, floors, mortar and whitewash.
Limestone and a coal, called culm, was shipped from South Wales to Clovelly harbour. Then it was carried up from the beach by donkeys to the lime kiln. The kiln was used for quicklime production, which is a by product of limestone.
Typically gangs took a day to load, three days to fire, two days to cool and a day to unload. Once burnt through and cooled, they raked it out from the base of the kiln through the draw hole. Then adding further layers of limestone and coal to the top to start the process all over again.
The working gangs, as you could imagine, found it an extremely exhausting and unpleasant job. Breathing dangerous noxious fumes left them choking and emerging with streaming red-eyes. They had no safety controls or protection and sadly many men died young as a result.
The second lime kiln at Mouthmill is, regrettably, in disrepair.
As a result, the village lime kiln is used these days with a store beneath. We have fitted safety railings around the top of the kiln, so it can be used for stalls, exhibitions, and children’s arts and crafts at our annual events.
You’ll be rewarded with stunning sea views and the sight of a picturesque waterfall, after heavy rain, running down the cliff face.
There is a cave behind where legend tells that Merlin, the Arthurian magician, was born.
The source of the waterfall is slightly more prosaic! A stream used by villagers for drinking water once flowed down the village street. When mains water finally arrived, the stream was diverted so now emerges here, cascading down onto the beach.
Many couples come to this part of the beach. It seems, so we have been told, to draw people who are in love.
The Lifeboat Station is a vital base for a lifeboat as there was no safe shelter or mooring for many miles on this part of the North Devon coast. Hence launching the boats was always dangerous. Consequently they had to deal with huge waves crashing over the boats as they left the safety of the harbour. After the RNLI took Clovelly’s permanent lifeboat out of service, villagers set up their own inshore rescue boat. After eight years the RNLI returned, extending the boat shed and enhancing the inshore rescue service. The lifeboat house is often open to visitors.
Clovelly helps and raises money for the RNLI every year in many ways. Such as serving RNLI bottled water in the restaurants and holding Lifeboat weekend every year to raise funds. The station is an integral part of the village so if a call comes in, members of the rescue team will be seen immediately dropping what they are doing to man the boat.
The Red Lion hotel is a beautiful 4 star Inn with 11 bedrooms. It has had extensive refurbishment over the years hence bringing it up to a superb quality today.
In 2011 the old grade II listed building, adjacent to the Red Lion, was transformed into 6 wonderful new bedrooms and named The Sail Loft.
As a result, the Red Lion now boasts 17 lovely rooms with unique views overlooking the harbour or Bideford bay. All are beautifully decorated in a stylish nautical theme and bookable on line
The Red Lion hotel offers welcome drinks, lunches and snacks in their bars for day visitors and residents. Its Harbour Restaurant above is open each evening for both residents and non residents. The restaurant offers fresh lobster, crab, sea bass, herring and other fish from the bay in season. Along with seasonal produce from Clovelly Court Gardens, game from the estate and local meat.
The Snug Bar in the evenings is the place where you are likely to be mixing with the locals, listening and sharing their stories. Amazingly some families are 6 or 7 generations old. Staying here in the village reminds you or possibly introduces you to a vanished, less hurried way of life.
To wake up to the sights and sounds of Clovelly’s ancient fishing harbour and the sounds of the sea at the Red Lion is a unique and unforgettable experience.
The Land Rover service is an easy way back to the Visitor Centre. So if you do not wish to walk back up, you can use the fare-paying Land Rover service (available Easter to October). However, if you feel that you may not be able to manage the walk down, you can book a seat in the Land Rover at the Visitor Centre reception desk. The service will take you down to the harbour and back up at a separate charge.
Crazy Kate’s Cottage was named after Kate Lyall, who died in 1736.
Kate’s husband was a fisherman and she would watch him from her upper window as he fished in the bay. Consequently one day, a terrible squall blew up and he was drowned before her eyes. This terrible sight drove her mad, and she remained demented until the day of her death. On that tragic day, she put on her wedding dress and walked into the sea to join her husband in his watery grave. Hence why the cottage came to be known as part of village history.
This cottage with a balcony, overlooking the harbour and coastline, is said to be the oldest one in Clovelly.
The quay, as long ago as the 13th century, was a rudimentary quay. Built to allow a small fleet of Clovelly fishing boats to catch herring and mackerel in Bideford bay.
From the 13th until today, Clovelly is the only safe haven for boats from Appledore to Boscastle.
The quay was then lengthened in the 17th Century by the Cary family. The intention was to protect the ever-growing fleet of fishing boats. And to create a ‘fortress’ against the ravages of the sea. The building of the harbour wall was all done by hand and took many years to complete. Consequently it’s hard to imagine how such huge boulders could have been hauled across the foreshore to be hoisted into position. The result is a testimony of the skills and hard work of the villagers all those years ago.
You will see four bollards on the quay. These are four cannon barrels, said to have been taken from Spanish ships in the Armada along this coast.
Today our fishermen not only use the quay to unload their “catch of the day” but some, as entrepreneurial spirits, now use their boats for charters. Visitors can take boat trips along the coast – one of the best ways to view Clovelly and its spectacular coastal scenery. And there are also trips available to and from lovely Lundy.
Wild, romantic Gallantry Bower gives magnificent views along the rugged North Devon coast and across to Lundy (‘Lundy’ means island of puffins). To the right you can see Bucks Mills, the next village along from Clovelly. The far headlands are Morte Point and Baggy Point.
Whilst standing on the breezy cliff top you can view the seabirds. These will probably include some graceful fulmars gliding above your head.
The ditch and humps at the summit of Gallantry Bower are the remains of a Bronze Age bowl barrow (burial mound), some 3000 years old.
In the 19th century Gallantry Bower was a popular beauty spot. Thus visitors to Clovelly Court Gardens used to gather and enjoy these panoramic sea views.
The Clovelly Estate has recently cleared trees from the headland to restore the heathland and precious wildlife habitats.
Walkers along the the South West Coastal path enjoy these amazing views. They can so often be found stopping for a picnic, hence making the most of this stunning location.
It is a charming wooden shelter built in the 19th century. It gained its name from the ornately-carved wings supporting the roof. Built by Sir James Hamlyn Williams, a former owner of Clovelly. He placed it here so that he could look across Bideford Bay. Consequently in this way he was able to see where his daughter, Lady Chichester, lived at Youlston. Well worth the gentle stroll it takes to see this lovely structure and views. Once you’ve arrived you can rest on the seat amidst glorious woodland, enjoying lovely views. The Angel’s Wings is just one of a number of venues on Clovelly Estate that can be used for all sorts of celebrations. It is perfect for die-hard romantics as a place to pop the question.