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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

  • Wed 29th May

    Low 4:23am (1.52m)
    High 10:37am (4.68m)
    Low 4:41pm (1.75m)
    High 10:56pm (4.92m)
  • Thu 30th May

    Low 5:19am (1.65m)
    High 11:33am (4.58m)
    Low 5:40pm (1.87m)
    High 11:54pm (4.86m)
  • Fri 31st May

    Low 6:23am (1.70m)
    High 12:37pm (4.56m)
    Low 6:48pm (1.90m)
  • Sat 1st June

    High 1:00am (4.86m)
    Low 7:31am (1.65m)
    High 1:47pm (4.65m)
    Low 7:59pm (1.80m)