Captivating Clovelly, North Devon’s Jewel

Donkeys and large wooden sledges can only make the journey down steep cobbled stones in captivating Clovelly – North Devon’s jewel is barely altered in 800 years.

With numerous trips over decades to England the opportunity to visit picturesque Clovelly never presented itself, until today.

Clovelly

Dating back to the 9th-century and perched against a 120-metre high cliff with stunning views over Bristol Channel’s Bideford Bay, Clovelly promises an incredibly steep walk down to the tiny harbour at the bottom. So much so that delivery guys must use large wooden sledges to slide their load over the ancient cobblestones as vehicle traffic doesn’t exist in Clovelly.

wooden sledge, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

During past centuries, donkeys were also used to ferry goods up and down Clovelly’s steep narrow streets and alleyways, which can be treacherous when raining.

What to do?

If you only have time to spend one day in Clovelly, then strolling through this enchanting village and one of the coastal walks will be enough to keep you entertained.

Chartered boats leave from the protected harbour on day trips to infamous rocky Lundy Island or on diving and fishing trips. If the sea isn’t your love, then try a spot of wildlife watching.

The All Saints church dates back to the 13th-century and offers beautiful cooling grounds to rest whilst discovering the village’s ancient tombstones.

Today, it’s all about discovering and absorbing Clovelly…

Descending Clovelly’s main street

Just down from the Visitor cafe, stop off at the donkey stables – a favourite with children – with 14 donkeys to meet, you may be stopped here for a while.

Close by are the local craft shops selling pottery and woven fabrics. If you have time, you may be able to catch a pottery lesson before continuing to the cliffs for a coastal walk. If not, from here continue down the village.

The very aged and shiny cobblestones are difficult to walk on…

cobblestones, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
The terraced cobbled main street descends through the delightful white-washed fishing village.

cobblestones, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

Mount Pleasant

Rest awhile at Mount Pleasant, which is Clovelly’s remembrance monument to the fallen from the village during WW1. Locally known as the Peace Park, this serene picnic or rest spot unfolds splendid views across Bideford Bay.

Mount Pleasant, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
Striking vistas confront you at every turn and you can’t but help feel as though you’re living inside a antiquated picture postcard.

Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

Oberammergau Cottage

An intriguing door frame design carved from wood some 100 years ago, hails from Bavaria and still graces charming Oberammergau Cottage.

Oberammergau Cottage, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

New Inn Hotel

Dating back to the 17th Century, the cosy New Inn Hotel sits at around the half-way mark in the village as you descend with many eager tourists – a great place to stop for an afternoon Devonshire Tea or for an overnight stay.

New Inn Hotel, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

The Harbour

Stunning views of the harbour are never too far away.

For those that wish to overnight closer to the water, the brilliantly white 18th-century Red Lion Hotel offers quaint rooms, food, and also beverages.

Harbour, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
Making your way to the base of the village at the harbour’s edge unveils timeworn archways.

Harbour, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

It’s easy to go slightly crazy in Clovelly taking loads of photos from varying vantage points.

Harbour, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

Built in the 13th-century to protect the small fishing fleet that predominantly caught Herring and Mackerel in Bideford Bay, the quay was lengthened during the 17th-century.

Harbour, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

The quay’s expansion created a ‘fortress’ against the sea’s wrath whilst also protecting the village’s fishing fleet.

Quay walk

Such a picturesque vista deserves a longer wander along the quay to absorb more of Clovelly’s history.

Along the way, you’ll see this pretty stone cottage on the beach with a balcony and hanging flower baskets. This is believed to be the oldest cottage in Clovelly and is named ‘Crazy Kate’s Cottage’ because of its tragic history.

Crazy Kate’s Cottage

From one of the upstairs windows, Kate Lyall would watch her husband fish the bay until one day he perished before her eyes during an awful storm.

This drove Kate mad until her death in 1736 when she donned her wedding dress and walked into the sea to be forever with her husband.

Crazy Kate's Cottage, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
Rustic curios from a bygone era dot the harbour and village.

Curios, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

Lifeboat Station

Clovelly’s Lifeboat Station – stone cottage in front of the two boats below – dates back to the late 1800s and is still in use today.

Lifeboat Station, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

The pebbles of time prove hard underfoot. Forget about laying your towel down and taking a nap under the sun’s warm rays on this beach.

beach, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
Perhaps I’ve been too spoilt with Australia’s glistening-white soft sandy beaches.

Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe
Photo credit: Neil Lintern

Ascending Clovelly’s main street

If you’re feeling energetic, then revel in the tiring ascent of the main street’s steep hill. Although for those that can’t make the climb back, then you do have a couple of alternatives:

  • For a cost of £2.50, a flashy 4×4 Land Rover service is available during the holiday season to drive you back up to the Visitor’s Centre via the narrow locals-only road
  • a donkey can take you back up the cobbled main street.

Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

For me ascending is harder than descending, but persevere nonetheless as always find different scenes to photograph along this incredibly striking village.


Entry to Clovelly

Arriving at the large busy car park, buy your entry ticket at the Visitor Centre, which includes parking, entrance to two museums, and entrance to Clovelly Court gardens.

The entry fee to privately-owned Clovelly is quite expensive at £7.75, although the ticket includes one free return visit within the week. Retain your ticket if returning, as you need to present this at the Visitor Centre.

The spacious modern Visitor Centre cafe offers a couple of screens playing an audiovisual guide that explains the history of Clovelly and sights not to be miss.

Visitor's Centre, Clovelly, Devon, United Kingdom, Europe

Enjoy reasonably-priced food and beverages whilst admiring gorgeous views over Clovelly from the cafe’s deck area, until you continue down the steps to commence the descent through the village.


Where is Clovelly?

Nestled between Bude in Cornwall’s north coast and Devon’s Barnstaple in England’s south-west, Clovelly is also close to rugged but vivid Boscastle.

An easy drive along this dramatic coastline that holds tiny historical villages captive between its soaring cliffs, presents many stopovers for memorable photo opportunities.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on the United Kingdom at Image Earth Travel.

21 thoughts on “Captivating Clovelly, North Devon’s Jewel

Add yours

  1. I’ve never been to that part of England, but I’ve been to Oberammergau, does that count? Actually, I vaguely remember hearing about a place where you could only go down the street on a sledge; maybe this was it. Quaint, in any case.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I love history, and you capture it well with the photos and description of this quaint village. Looks like a place where you’d want a good pair of hiking boots with lots of grip because those cobblestone streets are well worn and somewhat steep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I first fell in love with Cornwall in 1985 when I was solo-backpacking around the world for 12 months.

      Back then, there were still a lot of Cornish living in Cornwall. Many have gone now as Londoners have moved in and bought holiday or investment properties there, property prices are now inflated, so the Cornish locals can’t afford to live in there any longer – very sad.

      Like

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