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 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 North Devon. 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 dramatic 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 the street, do watch the free 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. You are also free to visit Clovelly Court Gardens at the top of the village. Charles Kingsley was the Victorian author of ‘The Water Babies’ and Westward Ho! who lived in 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 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.
Transfers for wedding guests to and from this stunning location are by Clovelly Land Rovers. Consequently its highly popular for romantic outdoor weddings.
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 your personal opening to a mine of information about village history. It also opens you up to the village traditions. Jana, originally from Canada, is so passionate and enthusiastic to guide visitors through the village. Join one of her tours and you’ll gain valuable insights into what makes Clovelly such a unique place to visit in North Devon.
Jana just loves sharing her knowledge, and you are bound to go away enlightened and enthused. Always pre-book your tour as she is very busy. You will meet her at the guided tour start point just by the donkeys. You can’t miss her when she wears a traditional dress. TripAdvisor added a number of amazing comments, but the one that sums these tours up is “taking a Clovelly Village Tour is a MUST.”
To book your tour call Jana on 0797 413 4701 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 around Clovelly Estate are situated in stunning coastal, woodland scenery. Enjoy a gentle stroll along Hobby Drive. 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. Before setting off from Clovelly village make sure you have the right footwear!
Clovelly is a historic fishing village with cobbled traffic-free high street. It is build into a 400 ft high cliff and drops steeply past white washed cottages ablaze with flowers to its working harbour. It is famous for donkeys, originally used to transport goods up and down the hill. The village also inspired Charles Kingsley to write the Water Babies and Westward Ho! during his time in the village Its maritime history links back to the Spanish Armada.
The South West Coastal path is a leisurely ramble along this dramatic coastline. It passes by the magnificent Gallantry Bower headland rising 400 feet above the sea. Explore Black Church Rock with its two vast windows carved through it by the tides. Mouthmill Cove on the way to the Hartland penisula, was once the haunt of smugglers and many shipwrecks.
Clovelly countryside is rich in wildlife and carefully managed to ensure that is 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 is Lady Feodora Gleichen, cousin of Queen Victoria.
Lady Gleichen is the first femail member of the Society of Medallists and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. Elected posthumously 1922, she is also the first female member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
It is a recognised fact that she is a very strong influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement of her time. Therefore the fountain is a stylish piece of work. In addition to the inclusion of a noble portrait of the head of the monarch. There are also swans with wings outstretched and a bowl created in the shape of a scallop shell.
Lady Gleichen exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and her celebrated statue of Artemis stands in Hyde Park, London. The Fountain is in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Commissioned and laid here by Christine Hamlyn in 1901.
There are two fountains in the village and both are well worth a visit so don’t miss the Visitor Centre in celebration of Queen Elizabeths jubilee 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.
Inside Kingsley Museum you’ll meet Charles Kingsley (who lived in the village as a child) sitting at his desk. Listen to the celebrated actor and Clovelly resident, Joss Ackland, recite one of Kingsley’s most moving poems. This is the story of three fishermen’s 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. There are also two rooms with informative displays giving insights into Clovelly’s history and Charles Kingsley’s links with Devon, and a shop where you can buy a souvenir of your visit.
The new Clovelly Sweet and Fudge Shop sells a range of old-fashioned sweets such as dolly mixtures, jelly babies, liquorice and humbugs.
St Peter’s Chapel, 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. It consequently offers support and comfort to the community.
Fishermans cottage is traditional, built in cob and stone lying just past the Kingsley museum. History, seeping from its walls, features interesting stories of the fishermen of Clovelly. It brings the village alive through the centuries with residents’ paintings, drawings and photographs. Consequently, it creates a vivid insight into Clovelly’s rich fishing heritage.
Bringing the stories of Clovelly alive to our visitors and residents alike opens it to future generations. Rex Whistler is a perfect example of just this. Hence the story of Rex going off to war in his tank with a tin of paint brushes hanging off the side.
Fishing is at the very core of Clovelly. So come in and find out more
Oberammergau cottage, named after the town in Bavaria. The carvings around the doors and windows, created over 100 years ago, make this one of the most decorative cottages in Clovelly. They 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 so much, she had these commissioned.
Traditional skills, like these, have been retained and passed on to future generations. Consequently, Oberammergau town, 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.
The 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. Consequently benefiting 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. So 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, who 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. Consequently it was distributed by sea, hence manufacturing was at small ports along this coast.
Burning lime has been an industry to 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 culm, shipped from South Wales to Clovelly harbour, were carried up the 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. Adding further layers of limestone and coal to the top started 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.
There is a second kiln at Mouthmill that, regrettably, is in disrepair. However the village lime kiln is used these days with a store beneath. We have fitted safety railings around the top of the kiln, which is 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. It has had extensive refurbishment over the years hence bringing it up to todays superb quality. In 2011 the old grade II listed sail loft was transformed into 6 wonderful new bedrooms.
Consequently the Red Lion now boasts 17 lovely rooms with unique views overlooking the harbour and Bideford bay. All are beautifully decorated with a stylish nautical theme and bookable on line
The Red Lion hotel offers welcome drinks and meals in their bars for day visitors and residents in Clovelly. It also has the Harbour Restaurant that is open each evening for both residents and non residents alike. They serve lobster and fresh crab from the quay in season. Herring, sea bass and many other fish from the bay are also on the menu.
The Snug Bar is the place for those looking for light snacks or some delicious pub grub. It is likely that you will 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.
Waking up at the Red Lion is a very special experience. Thus the sights and sounds of the harbour, along with the distinctive sound of sea on the shingle beach, is unique and unforgettable.
This service is operated in Clovelly. It enables visitors and guests access to and from the quay from the Visitor Centre. As the village street is steep and cobbled, 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 unable 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.
Kate Lyall, known as Crazy Kate, died in 1736. Crazy Kate’s Cottage, as it became know, with its picturesque balcony overlooking the harbour, is said to be the oldest one in Clovelly. 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.
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. They 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 on the left (‘Lundy’ means island of puffins). To the right, you can see Bucks Mills, the next village along from Clovelly. Whilst standing on the breezy cliff top you can view the seabirds. These will probably include some graceful fulmars gliding above your head.
The site has links with early man as there are remains of a Bronze Age bowl barrow here (burial mound).
In the 19th century Gallantry Bower was a popular beauty spot. Thus visitors to Clovelly Court 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 using 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.