clovelly donkeys

Off Duty Donkeys by Pauline Eccles| CC BY-SA 2.0 | via Wikimedia Commons

The Clovelly Donkeys in North Devon


Mike Clark | CC BY-SA 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Dietmar Rabich |  CC BY-SA 4.0 |  via Wikimedia Commons

clovelly sledge

By Afterbrunel | Public domain | via Wikimedia Commons

The charming 16th century village of Clovelly is famous for its history, its extremely steep cobbled main street and also for its donkeys! Many years ago donkeys were used to take tourists down into the village. Today the donkeys enjoy a more restful existence, giving rides to visitors’ children during the summer months. But the villagers continue to transport heavy loads on sledges.

Clovelly is located on the north Devon coast, about twelve miles west of Bideford, overlooking the Bristol Channel. The lawyer, George Cary, established Clovelly in the 16th century. He built the stone quay, which at one time sheltered up to sixty fishing boats. Due to the decline of the herring fishery, it has now dwindled to a handful of small boats. Without the its donkeys, the village could never have been a successful fishing port, for it was these sturdy little beasts that carried the heavy baskets of herring up the narrow cobbled street from the harbour.

The cobbled high street in Clovelly winds its way down from the top of the hill to the harbour below. The street drops 400 feet in the half mile from the top to the small harbour, so it can be a little bit tricky on foot. Be careful when walking down to the harbour.

It is a joy to see the traditional 16th century whitewashed cottages lining the high street, with their beautiful summer gardens filled with fuchsias, roses and geraniums. Make sure you pop into the Visitor Centre. This is modelled on a traditional Devon long barn, and houses a cafe and a number of shops selling quality souvenirs, books and delicious Clovelly fudge. There are other shops in the Lower Yard and at the top of the cobbled street. There are several lovely craft workshops, which include rag making, silk scarf demonstrations, and even how to make your own unique pottery.

The village is pedestrianised. Visitors can park in the car park provided at the top next to the Heritage Centre. Should you not want to walk, transport is also offered to get you down or back up. The ban on traffic has preserved the atmosphere of the village and the lower part of the village has been saved from development by the local landowners, the Hamlyn family. The village is a living village where fishermen still mend their nets and there are no holiday cottages allowed in the main village.

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About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all!  To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.

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