Last Updated on March 21, 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
With its oversized cobblestones, ancient fishermen’s cottages, and superb seaside views, there’s more than one reason than one to check out Clovelly on your next visit to North Devon. After all, embark on a meander through the village and you’ll soon spy sagging rooftops and trailing wisteria aplenty. Here’s a walking tour of Clovelly, often alleged to be North Devon’s prettiest village…
Travel tips, advice & things to know before visiting Clovelly
First things first, you should know that if you do indeed want to enjoy the delights of this legendary seafaring village, then you’ll need to pay to enter (a fact that is not overly well advertised on the website)! Prices are fairly steep and, if you object to paying and wish to venture elsewhere, then other traditional fishing villages nearby of note include Port Isaac, Boscastle, and Mevagissey.
Otherwise, included in the entry price for Clovelly is car parking, entrance to all of the stores and boutiques to be found in the village, free entry to the two churches in the village, and the chance to wander inside a fisherman’s cottage, restored to just how it looked several centuries ago. The village is privately owned by John Rous, a descendant of the Hamlyn family, who in turn have owned and managed Clovelly since the mid-18th-century.
Next, there are no cars in the village due to the sheer steepness of the main road which leads from the harbour right up to the visitor centre at the top, and the car park beyond that. Instead, residents use ‘sledges’ (largely made of shipping crates pulled on strings) to transport their shopping and other essentials up and down the street. As you can well imagine, a pair of comfortable and easy to walk in shoes are essential!
As of my last visit a couple of years ago, I was sad and disappointed to see that Donkey Rides for children are still taking place in the village. Here’s why you should think twice before supporting animal tourism such as riding donkeys. Furthermore, you should know that the food in Clovelly is incredibly overpriced, and as all of the cafés and pubs are owned by the village owners, there’s a monopoly on the cuisine available. As such, I would recommend bringing along a picnic or simply dining before or after your visit.
Highlights of Clovelly, A Self-Guided Walking Tour
St Peter’s Chapel Clovelly
Clovelly is home to several ecclesiastical buildings, including that of St Peter’s Chapel, which is to be found a few steps away from the main high street which permeates its way through the fishing village. Despite what you might think, the chapel is relatively new and was consecrated as a chapel on 29th of November 1948 and lany of the paintings inside the building dates from the 1990s.
Around halfway down the main street, the Fisherman’s Cottage features a traditional recreation of a quintessential fishing cottage from the 1930s. One of a handful of museums in the village, the admission price is included with the main admission price for the village and highlights include cottage furniture, and other trinkets such as porcelain and ornaments.
The final stop on this Clovelly walking tour is indeed also the end of the village itself. Clovelly Harbour dates back many centuries and is the final stop on a sojourn through the steep village. The sea frontier has inspired many artists and writers over the years, including perhaps most notably J. M. W. Turner’s painting of Clovelly harbour, which was created in around 1822.
How to visit Clovelly and where to stay nearby
Due to its rather remote nature on the fringes of the Devonian countryside, there is little by way of accommodation within the village of Clovelly itself. However, as it doesn’t take more than half a day to enjoy the main attractions of Clovelly, I don’t recommend staying within the village limits themselves.
Instead, make your way further down the coastline and you’ll soon discover that there are a myriad of quaint fishing villages and small communities tucked far away from the hustle and bustle of busy modern day like. The best way to visit both Clovelly and the surrounding region is via car as transport links are few and far between. Going on a North Devon road trip will also allow you to stop off at smaller off the beaten path places and discover lesser-known gems of the South West region.
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