Clovelly, North Devon

This village an amazing picturesque fishing village that epitomises the beauty of North Devon

Clovelly, North Devon

Clovelly, a scenic, time-honoured fishing hamlet, holds a unique charm and has an intriguing past, including being previously under the ownership of England’s Queen. From the Elizabethan era to the present day, Clovelly’s private ownership has allowed for the preservation of its authentic ambience.

Perched precariously on a 400-foot cliff, Clovelly foregoes the usual vehicular traffic for the charm of donkeys and sledges. A steep, cobbled pathway, known as either ‘Up-a-long’ or ‘Down-a-long’, meanders down to the historic fishing harbour and the quay from the 14th century. The descent reveals a charming landscape of cottages adorned with flowers, interspersed with quaint alleyways and winding lanes that offer more picturesque surprises. This historic village is a treasure trove of visual delight and exploration.

The famous cobbled street, painstakingly built from stones brought up from the beach, is a testament to human effort. Man-powered sledges are still used to transport goods, ranging from groceries to furniture, to the village. Although donkeys were once the primary mode of transport, they now delight children with summer rides in the meadow or pose for photos in the streets.

Famous literary and artistic figures, such as Charles Kingsley, Charles Dickens, William Turner, and Rex Whistler, have all left their mark on Clovelly. The village was home to Kingsley, served as inspiration for Dickens, was immortalised in the paintings of Turner, and was a frequent feature in Whistler’s works.

Numerous attractions and activities await visitors. You can watch a film detailing the village’s history, browse through a wide variety of souvenirs in the Visitor Centre, or observe skilled artisans crafting exquisite silks and pottery in the revamped stable yard. Take a guided tour of the village and visit two museums – the Kingsley Museum and the Fisherman’s Cottage – to delve deeper into Clovelly’s history and traditions.

Accommodation options in Clovelly include the 400-year-old New Inn, nestled in the village centre, and the 18th-century Red Lion located on the quay. Both offer scrumptious meals and traditional Devon cream teas. The Quay Shop on the harbour is perfect for grabbing take-away food to savour on the quay, while watching the harbour activities. Scenic boat trips along the breathtaking coastline are also available.

Once a thriving fishing port known for its herring and mackerel, Clovelly still retains fishing as a vital part of its identity. Today, its lobsters and crabs are renowned, being shipped to destinations as far as France and Spain. The coastline, once notorious for smuggling, wrecking, and piracy, has had its own lifeboat since 1870, providing safety to the seafaring community.

Clovelly also hosts a variety of annual festivals, such as the Seaweed Festival in May, Maritime Festival in July, Lobster and Crab Feast in September, and Herring Festival in November, all included in the admission charge.

For those not up for the climb back, a paid Land Rover service is available to transport visitors to the top of the village. There, you can explore the beautifully maintained Clovelly Court Victorian kitchen gardens, complete with vibrant herbaceous borders and restored Victorian glasshouses, located near the 13th-century All Saints Parish Church.

The village offers awe-inspiring vistas and lengthy cliff-top walks. The Hobby Drive, built post-Napoleonic wars to employ returning soldiers, meanders through woods, offering stunning views of the Clovelly harbour and Bideford Bay. On the other end, a walk along the dramatic North Devon cliffs towards Hartland Point presents stunning views of Angel


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Clovelly Village
Clovelly Village


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Clovelly Reviews

Below are the latest reviews of Clovelly.

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Opening Hours:
Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: Clovelly, Bideford EX39 5TE, UK

Paul Dearlove avatarPaul Dearlove
3 months ago
Fantastic, very steep historic village , amazing views , well maintained homes and gardens, with a truly historic harbour. The residents and businesses are very friendly, a great place to visit , but its very steep cobble stone paths. ( although a land rover taxi is on hand for a fee if you need it).
Samantha Viner avatarSamantha Viner
3 months ago
Was last hear as a child when they still did the donkey rides back up (showing my age 🙈). Not as steep as I remember but you certainly need good legs if going down and back up again. Absolutely stunning village 😁
Charlie avatarCharlie
2 months ago
Nice little seaside experience. Steep walks so be prepared with some good trainers. This is enough to see and experience in about 2-4 hrs. For me this is half day attraction. We didn't do the gardens as we had a grumpy teenager
Sarah Ellerby avatarSarah Ellerby
3 months ago
Beautiful historic seaside town that has been well maintained and preserved. There is a selection of galleries and shops as you descend to the sea, two pubs both serving food between selected hours and a tearoom selling traditional cornish tea. There is also a Kingsley museum and fishermans cottage. The streets are cobbled, and the walk down can be a challenge for those less able. The beach is also pebbles, but a walk along it is rewarded with a lovely waterfall.
Julie Reece avatarJulie Reece
3 months ago
Family of 4 (parents and 2 offspring) so asked for a family ticket. Grumpy assistant said 4 adults? Nope, a family ticket please… to which she demanded their ages – 15 and 17. I was then refused and told I had to purchase 3 adults and 1 child… Nearly £8 more expensive than a family ticket… Why?… Because my son was 17 not 16. No map given, no directions, nothing about being able to return just a grumpy non smiling assistant. Good job I had a phone with my own map then! Once inside the other workers were much more friendly and accommodating. Spent a good few hours exploring and it wasn't at all busy. Nobody around to check our wrist bands so could of just walked in to the village like a few others we had chatted to today. One guy even told us we were daft paying to go into the gardens as noone ever checks. However we did pay and enjoyed our day. Fabulous sights, recommend visiting the gardens… Peaches in the greenhouse gave a fantastic aroma. 3 stars given because of the unnecessary grumpy assistant and the expensive charge.
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The address for Clovelly, North Devon we have is: Clovelly, Bideford EX39 5TE, UK. Use the map below for a closer view. Do check with your host for a definite location.

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Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

On this site, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge amassed from my adventures here. From in-depth local guides to engaging blog posts about Bideford. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on things to do or guidance on where to stay we have you covered. Join me as we delve into the heart of Bideford, North Devon – a town that’s more than just a destination, but an experience waiting to be discovered.

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