Clovelly is a harbour village in the Torridge district of Devon, England. Its steep pedestrianized cobbled main street, traditional architecture, donkeys & views of the Bristol Channels attracts numerous tourists. It is one of the best-known and most unusual villages in North Devon.
Clovelly is one of the most naturally preserved villages in England. Known to be world-famous, it is a true gem of North Devon, offering staggering views across Bideford Bay. It also introduces us to a gentle way of life, unique maritime heritage, and high-quality seafood.
Highlights of Clovelly Village
Clovelly Quay and its bay are sheltered from all the strong westerly winds. The settlement has been here since the 13th century. Landing a boat on the treacherous North Devon coast with its cliffs and rocky foreshores has never been easy. Small fleets of fishing boats from Clovelly sailed Bideford Bay in search of herring and mackerel.
Building this quay was a formidable achievement, but the result was invaluable: they had created the only safe haven for boats along the entire stretch of rocky coast between Appledore and Boscastle. Clovelly fishermen in later years certainly appreciated the effort it had taken to build the quay. The village evolved into a bustling and prosperous centre for fishing.
Once integral to the daily lives of villagers, the donkeys are now some of Clovelly’s favourite residents, and meeting them should be a priority when visiting. Formerly beasts of burden, they now lead a much more restful existence enjoying the spectacular views from the top of the village street.
Clovelly Court Gardens:
One of the outstanding Victorian kitchen gardens to visit in North Devon. Clovelly Court Gardens are a must-see whilst visiting the famous village. Plants thrive in this sheltered sunny corner of North Devon, which has the added benefit of the warmth the Gulf Stream brings.
You’ll find neat, carefully tended gardens and beautifully restored Victorian greenhouses within its old walls. The incredible variety of fruits & vegetables grown here supplies the Red Lion Hotel. You can even take some home with you!
Kingsley Museum is a short walk down the cobbled street. There is a corridor mural of “The Water Babies”, two rooms with informative displays about Clovelly’s history and Charles Kingsley’s links with Devon, plus a shop where you can buy a souvenir of your visit.
Fisherman’s Cottage, a very special North Devon attraction, is found walking along the path by the side of the cottage containing the Kingsley Museum.
It is just a few yards down from the New Inn. The cottage is packed with fascinating information and old photographs that vividly portray Clovelly’s fishing heritage. Like all the early cottages in the village, it is built-in cob and stone. A wall in the downstairs room has been left un-plastered to show how it was made – with a bottom layer of stones from the beach, and then a layer of cob (earth mixed with a little straw). The Museums are one of the must-watch attractions of Clovelly village.
The Lifeboat Station is integral to the heart of the village. The completed building is the winner of many conservation awards. During the summer months, the lifeboat house is often open to visitors. It’s well worth a visit, so do make time for it during your tour of the village.
Take a short walk down the path from the Visitor Centre, and you’ll find the craft workshops next to the donkey stables. They are well worth visiting whilst staying in this lovely part of Devon. A few of them are:
The pottery, established by Clive Pearson in 1992, offers an extensive range of his quality, beautifully glazed hand-thrown pots. The workshop also offers a choice of ceramics from several West County potters. Visitors (adults and children) to the workshop can make their pot as a souvenir, subject to a small fee for supervision (mainly during high season).
The shop offers special Clovelly designs (as above) made from drawings for an artist who has lived and worked in the village over the ages. Workshops, out of season, are a must and get very quickly booked. They teach textile design and silk printing along with many other associated crafts. However, there is an even better way to take a special part like a scarf or a pair of curtains of Clovelly and its history home with you.
An old craft of re-cycling textiles to make rugs. There is also a range of items visitors can make, such as a corsage, poppy, a Clovelly herring, and lobster! This forms part of some of the special events that take place in the village throughout the year.
Rowan Tree Studio is based in a converted granary and offers workshops in contemporary and traditional crafts. Coming to Rowan Tree may well give you some amazing ideas and gifts for all the family.
The Red Lion Hotel
The Red Lion Hotel is an 18th Century 4-star Inn that stands on the quay alongside Clovelly’s ancient harbor in North Devon. Each of its 17 beautifully decorated rooms boasts a sea view. The Harbour Restaurant offers fresh lobster, crab, sea bass, herring, and other fish from the bay in season. The Snug Bar in the evenings is the place where you are likely to be mixing with the locals, listening and sharing their stories.
Shopping in Clovelly is pure retail therapy. Clovelly Pottery, Clovelly Silk, Clovelly Soap, and Donkey Shoe Shop all have unique and exclusive handmade products. Walking down the village, taking in the shops and the living history of this unique place is a wonderful way to spend a day out.
Clovelly Village Tours
Since 2012 Clovelly Village Tours has been bringing the history and stories of this famous village to life. Village Tours at Clovelly are a “must do” for anyone truly interested in how this village has managed to stand the test of time and remain a charmingly quiet community. You’ll come away with stories and information that make the village tour an exceptional experience.
Activities are endless when visiting the Clovelly village. A few of them are:
Chartered boat trips to Lundy or just along the coast of Clovelly. Sit on the quay and watch the yachts coming and going. However, if you are a keen sailor and own or rent a yacht, you can always sail into Clovelly for a short stay. You can fish off the quay or from the beach. There are many specialists in the craft of crabbing who are normally aged between 6 and 11 years old!
Clovelly has an abundance of historical artifacts. The village Historical Society helps many people who wish to enquire about their long-lost ancestors. They also work to maintain and update the museums for future generations. Therefore, Society plays an important role in the history of the village.
You can also take a short walk from the Visitor Centre to Clovelly Court Gardens where the Head Gardener and team are always busy at work. Experience a visit in these walled kitchen gardens, with beautiful Victorian glasshouses and herbaceous borders. Beside it lies the ancient parish church of All Saints, which dates back to the 13th Century.
From there you can take a wonderful walk along the coast path with spectacular cliff-top views to the secluded Mouthmill Cove, once a popular spot for pirates.
Other activities include Boating, angling, diving, and charter tripshttps://www.clovelly.co.uk/