Clovelly’s 83 pastel and white-washed cottages tumble 400 feet down a steep ravine to the sea on the North Devon coast. This privately-owned village of 300 people, was once a busy fishing port.
The town is recorded in the Domesday Book and at the time of William the Conqueror it was owned by the king. For the past 800 years, it has been held by just three families; most recently the Hamlyn family, who have owned Clovelly and surrounding lands since 1738.
The village has one cobbled, pedestrian street which winds its way down to the working port at an angle of 20º. The best way to visit is to see the short film in the Visitor Center at the top of the hill and then stroll down to the harbor, stopping for tea or a bite to eat in the village inn or tea rooms. House numbering is quirky so if you are looking for a specific address it’s a good idea to know that going down hill, on “Down along”—the cobbled street, numbers on the left side ascend and on the right side (called “Up along” but in actual fact the same street) descend. So the first house at the top of the street on the left has the lowest number and on the right the highest number.
Clovelly is a real village where real people live, but because of its fragile position on the side of a cliff and its limited vehicle access, entrance is only permitted between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and then only on foot. An admission is charged to help pay for village upkeep. One Land Rover is kept at the bottom, near the harbor, so that people who have walked down but don’t fancy the trek back up can book a ride to the parking at the top. Between Easter and October, disabled visitors can book the Land Rover at Visitor Center Reception to take them both up and down.
There is also plenty to do:
Two museums are included in the village admission charge. The Kingsley Museum commemorates the life and work of Victorian writer Charles Kingsley, author of “The Water Babies” and “Westward Ho”. The Fisherman’s Cottage is the place to see how fishing families lived in the 1930s when Clovelly was still an important Devon fishing port.
Craft workshops near the Visitor Center include a silk workshop and a pottery workshop where you can learn about local crafts, get hands on experience and buy artisan textiles and ceramics
Shopping A small number of interesting craft and gift shops can be found on the cobbled street and on paths leading off it. About midway down, an art gallery sells work by local artists
Harbor Activities Boats can be chartered for diving, angling and day trips. For a small fee, visitors can also try night fishing from Clovelly’s ancient harbor wall.
Movie Tourism – Clovelly harbor was the stand-in for Guernsey in the film adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”