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Rapparee Cove // Ilfracombe

Rapparee Beach
Photo: © Lewis Clarke / CC BY-SA 3.0

The little cove of Rapparee is tucked away on the eastern side of Ilfracombe. It is set at the foot of the high cliffs of Hillsborough which provides shelter from all but onshore winds.

The beach here is a patch of sand with rocks to either side, although towards high tide it all but disappears. Combined with the fact that the high cliffs often put the cove in shadow a visit to Rapparee can require some planning.

To the back of the beach is a small shelter, a throwback to Rapparee cove's Victorian heyday when this was one of Ilfracombe's most popular bathing beaches. In those days a regular ferry ran from the pier and the cove was lined with bathing huts. These days you will have to get to the beach via the steep steps that run down the cliff.

The waters just of Rapparee cove are the site of the wreck of the London which sank in rough seas in October 1796. Most of those onboard drowned with up to 100 bodies being buried beneath the cliffs here. The reason so many died is simple - they were in chains. What is not so obvious is where these victims came from; there is some debate as to whether they were slave from St Lucia or French soldiers.

Rapparee Cove tide times

  • Fri 8th December

    High 1:38am (4.43m)
    Low 7:41am (2.39m)
    High 1:58pm (4.63m)
    Low 8:16pm (2.10m)
  • Sat 9th December

    High 2:38am (4.66m)
    Low 8:42am (2.15m)
    High 2:56pm (4.81m)
    Low 9:10pm (1.86m)
  • Sun 10th December

    High 3:29am (4.89m)
    Low 9:35am (1.88m)
    High 3:46pm (4.99m)
    Low 9:58pm (1.63m)
  • Mon 11th December

    High 4:14am (5.11m)
    Low 10:22am (1.63m)
    High 4:32pm (5.14m)
    Low 10:43pm (1.45m)