Clovelly in North Devon


By Mike Clark (Own work) | CC BY-SA 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Clovelly is a village on the north Devon coast, England, about twelve miles west of Bideford. It is a major tourist attraction, famous for its history and beauty, its extremely steep car-free cobbled main street, donkeys, and its location looking out over the Bristol Channel. It can be a little bit tricky on foot, so be careful when walking down to the harbour.

The village of Clovelly had existed for many years. However it was in the 16th century that George Cary, a lawyer, established Clovelly as a viable community. He built the stone quay, which at one time sheltered up to sixty fishing boats. This has now dwindled to a handful of small boats due to the decline of the herring fishery. There are some lovely craft workshops you can visit while you are here. These include rag making, silk scarf demonstrations, and how to make your own unique pottery pots.

The cobbled high street in Clovelly winds its way down from the top of the hill to the harbour below. The traditional 16th century whitewashed cottages line the high street. They are a joy to see, displaying their beautiful summer gardens filled with fuchsias, roses and geraniums. The street drops 400 feet in the half mile from the top to the small harbour. The village is pedestrianised and when visiting you can park in the car park provided at the top next to the Heritage Centre.  Should you not want to walk, there is transport offered to get you down or back up.

Many years ago donkeys were used to take visiting tourists down into the village. These have now been retired. People live in very quaint and old cottages along the high street and all their supplies are taken down the hill by sledge, which can be seen “parked” outside.

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.

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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