Discover the timeless village of Clovelly, where the steep, cobbled street tumbles down past gleaming white cottages to the tiny, deep-blue harbour.
These old walled gardens are a contrast to the bustle of the village, so do go along and enjoy their tranquility and beauty. There’s always something to see, including kitchen gardens, colourful herbaceous beds, and restored Victorian glasshouses sheltering Mediterranean fruits such as peaches, apricots melons, grapes, oranges and lemons. You can buy bedding plants, vegetables and fruit here. The entry charge to Clovelly includes free admission, but you can visit the gardens only for a small admission charge. Find them next to All Saints Church. Open all year. Dogs allowed on leads.
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. 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.
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.
Make sure you watch the free 20-minute film of the village’s fascinating history before you leave the Visitor Centre. People say that it adds hugely to the enjoyment of their visit.
Perched on a lofty promontory called the Wilderness, and just a short walk from the village along the coast path, is an historic summerhouse complete with verandah. Built in 1820, it has been beautifully restored, winning a civic conservation award. Particular attention was given to the use of local materials, including fine Delabole slates. Clovelly’s Wilderness Summerhouse could not be set in a more romantic location, and offers spectacular views across Bideford Bay to Lundy (Norse for island of puffins). It can also be reached by Land Rover, and is a highly popular venue for romantic outdoor weddings.
At the Silk Workshop you can buy colourful scarves and exquisite hand-printed fabrics by the distinguished textile designer, Ann Jarvis, which are made on site.
Clovelly Pottery was established by Clive Pearson. Browse Clive’s own beautiful pots and a range of high-quality decorative ceramics and domestic ware by other Devon and West Country potters.
She is a mine of information about village history and traditions, and an enthusiastic guide for interested visitors. Join one of her tours and you’ll gain valuable insights into what makes Clovelly such a unique place to visit in North Devon. She loves sharing her knowledge, and you are bound to go away enlightened and enthused. Judged by the Trip Advisor comments, 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.
Once on the island you can wander 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, raptors, like peregrine falcons and down below, seals.
Enjoy a gentle stroll along the Hobby Drive, which winds through glorious woodland with some glorious views and glimpses of the sea far below. Or take a leisurely ramble along the dramatic South West Coast Path to 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, in Mouthmill Cove, once the haunt of smugglers.
Clovelly countryside is rich in wildlife, and home to a variety of birds, butterflies and small mammals. There are spectacular seasonal displays of foxgloves, primroses, and bluebells and it is a special site for rare lichens.
Incorporating a noble portrait head of the monarch, swans with wings outstretched, and a bowl in the form of a scallop shell, it was designed by Lady Feodora Gleichen, a cousin of Queen Victoria and the first female member of the Royal Academy. Influenced strongly by the Arts and Crafts Movement, the fountain is a stylish piece of work. Lady Gleichen exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, and her celebrated statue of Artemis stands in Hyde Park.
It lies at the heart of Clovelly, half way down the famous cobbled street. Rebuilt and refurbished over the years, it is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style, and is a popular choice with day visitors and for North Devon holidays and short breaks. The guest rooms are bright and airy and full of individual character. Each is stylishly furnished and has an en-suite luxury bathroom. Seven rooms offer sea glimpses or panoramic vistas across Bideford Bay, one has its own private balcony with delightful views of the cobbled street below, and three others open out onto a spacious balcony that also overlooks the street.
This grassy knoll, known locally as Peace Park, is a popular picnic spot with visitors to Clovelly. There are seats with spectacular views across Bideford Bay, and a memorial to Clovelly residents who died in the First World War. Mount Pleasant was donated to the National Trust in 1921 by Clovelly benefactor Mrs Christine Hamlyn, for the use of the village in perpetuity, her gift commemorated on a plaque. Further down the cobbles are Mount Pleasant cottages, one of which used to be a bank.
A small shelter has been restored as a place to stop and enjoy views across Bideford Bay. (Wheelchair accessible)
This unpretentious 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, and made a direct appeal to Clovelly’s fishermen, so much so that 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.
Inside you’ll see 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, 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.
It was consecrated on 29th of November 1948 at the behest of the vicar at the time, the Rev A S Chandler. Inside there are colourful murals painted in the 1990s by North Devon artist Fiona Balfour. You’ll find this peaceful chapel at the end of the path that runs alongside the Kingsley Museum.
Built of cob and stone, it is packed with information and old photographs, and gives a vivid picture of Clovelly’s fishing heritage. Inside you can see how a Clovelly fisherman and his family lived in the 1930s. The parlour is decorated with domestic treasures, including simple cottage furniture, colourful pictures and homely ornaments. The tiny kitchen is full of period charm. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, a sail loft, and an attic complete with straw mattresses. A cob wall in the downstairs room has been left unplastered to show how it was made.
They were brought to Clovelly all the way from Oberammergau in Bavaria by Christine Hamlyn, the owner of Clovelly, who visited there in 1910. The town is the home of the famous Passion Play, and is renowned for its woodcarving. Today the traditional skills are highly valued, and the Bavarian State Woodcarving School is located in Oberammergau. About 120 woodcarvers work there, making carvings of all kinds of subjects – including the lovely coloured grapes and fruits that you can see here in Clovelly.
Why not take a break and enjoy some welcome refreshments at these popular tearooms?
Choose from a range of delicious lunches and light snacks. In the afternoon 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.
In days gone by, the wives and families of Clovelly fishermen would gather at the Look-Out, nervously watching the waves and darkening skies and hoping for a sight of their loved ones returning.
These days the Look-Out offers visitors the perfect vantage point where they can take a breather, and sit on the bench and watch the world go by. Overhead gulls glide by, and if you are particularly lucky you may see a peregrine falcon!
Now they house a small shop serving locally-made pasties and other food and drink. It’s ideal if you are looking for a quick take-away snack to enjoy on the quay while 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.
It has been a dwelling, a grain store, a cobbler’s shop, a sail loft and was once used for storage of the Coastguard gig.
With the decline of Clovelly’s fishing fleet, it fell into disrepair. It has now been sensitively restored using materials sourced from the West Country. There are six stylish bedrooms, beautifully furnished, each offering glorious views across the bay. To the side and below are fishermen’s cellars, cold rooms, flake ice machines and tanks for storing live shellfish – facilities especially created so that sustainable fishing can continue at Clovelly.
It was once used as a shelter for the Clovelly donkeys. In Victorian times a shoemaker lived in the tiny cottage here, repairing villagers’ boots and shoes at his open door by the archway. It seems he was always keen to waylay visitors in conversation, and was a conduit for village gossip. The Temple Bar was always a popular subject with artists. J M W Turner visited the village in 1811, and made a rough sketch of it in his Devon coast sketchbook.
Limestone was shipped from Wales, carried up from the beach by donkeys, and burned in the kiln using a coal called culm.
It was an exhausting and unpleasant process, giving off noxious fumes, which left the kiln minders emerging red-eyed and choking from the smoke-filled arches. The resulting lime was extracted from a hole at the bottom of the kiln. It was used as an agricultural fertilizer and to make mortar and whitewash – Clovelly houses used to be whitewashed in spring every year.
You’ll be rewarded with stunning sea views and the sight of a picturesque waterfall pouring out of 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. It now emerges here as the waterfall.
Clovelly was 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. Launching was often a perilous affair, with huge waves crashing over the vessel at the harbour entrance. 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 boatshed and enhancing the inshore rescue service. The lifeboat house is often open to visitors.
Its cosy bars offer welcome drinks and snacks, and a stay here will remind you of a vanished, less hurried way of life. To wake up to the sights and sounds of Clovelly’s ancient fishing harbour and the sound of the sea on the shingle beach is a unique and unforgettable experience. Each of the eleven guest rooms has an en-suite bathroom and enjoys either a commanding sea or harbour view. All are beautifully decorated with a stylish nautical theme. The Sail Loft is a recent conversion of an adjacent, grade II listed building and provides a further six generous, comfortable and stylish bedrooms all overlooking Bideford Bay.
The village street is steep and cobbled. If you walk down you can take the fare-paying Land Rover service (available Easter to October) back to the top, but if you feel that you may not be able to manage it, you can book a seat in the Land Rover at the Visitor Centre reception desk. This will take you down to the harbour and back up at a separate charge.
Her pretty cottage, 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. 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.
As long ago as the 13th century a rudimentary quay was constructed, and a small fleet of fishing boats from Clovelly plied Bideford Bay in search of herring and mackerel.
The Cary family built the present quay in the 17th century. It’s hard to imagine how such huge boulders were hauled across the foreshore and hoisted into position! But the effort was worth it: Clovelly was the only safe haven for boats along the entire coast between Appledore and Boscastle. The four cannon barrels used as bollards on the quay are said to come from Spanish ships from the Armada.
From the quay you can enjoy chartered fishing outings and trips to Lundy Island.
It gives magnificent prospects along the rugged North Devon coast and across to Lundy Island. Stand on the breezy cliff top and you can watch the seabirds, including graceful fulmars gliding around your head.
The site has links with early man, and there is a prehistoric round barrow here. In the 19th century Gallantry Bower was a popular beauty spot, where visitors to Clovelly Court gathered to enjoy panoramic sea views. The Clovelly Estate has recently cleared trees from the headland to restore the heathland and precious wildlife habitats.
Built in the 19th century, it gained its name from the elegant carvings of angels and angels’ wings supporting the roof. It was built by Sir James Hamlyn Williams, a former owner of Clovelly. He placed it here so that he could look across Bideford Bay to where his daughter, Lady Chichester, lived at Youlston. It’s well worth the gentle stroll. Once you’ve arrived you can rest on the seat amidst glorious woodland, enjoying spectacular views of the North Devon coast.