Ilfracombe is the leading holiday resort in North Devon. It sits snugly amongst the rugged cliffs of the Atlantic coast, and has a charming natural harbour and elegant Victorian architecture. The town enjoyed its heyday after the arrival of the railway and most buildings derive from this period.
This charming resort has been a consistent winner of Britain in Bloom with colourful displays brightening up streets and seafront. The natural harbour is set among spectacular cliffs and coves. In addition to local fishing boats, visitors may hire pleasure craft offering trips as far as Lundy Island.
North Devon’s most recent entertainment complex is the Landmark Theatre overlooking the seafront. There is an all year round programme of events. Ilfracombe Museum has a fascinating selection of artefacts and old photographs. Another local site worth visiting is Chambercombe Manor. This is about a mile out of town and comprises of an interesting group of 16th and 17th century buildings huddled around a cobbled courtyard. The town itself offers many waterfront cafés, restaurants and attractive shops and galleries.
Each June Ilfracombe holds a Victorian celebration, to commemorate the past pf the resort. Locals dress in period costume and hold a series of events including pageants, street fairs and a grand costume ball.
Hillsborough is the hill overlooking the town’s quay. It rises to a height of almost 450 feet and has an Iron Age hill fort on its summit. Lantern Hill adjoins the pier and boasts Ilfracombe’s oldest building, St Nicholas’ Chapel. This building is recorded as having been a lighthouse in 1522 but was used for various purposes after that date. It was restored in the sixties.
Ilfracombe is an ideal location for the nature lover and rambler. The Torrs Walk is a cliff walk through National Trust property starting from the west side of the resort. It has been described as one of the finest walks in England. Close by are the unique Tunnels Beaches providing safe bathing areas with secluded beaches and a boating pool. The access is through tunnels quarried beneath the cliffs. To the east lies the pretty cove of Hele Bay, a paradise of rock pools and sandy inlets for a family day out. There is also a beautifully restored water mill close by.