Ilfracombe is a popular holiday town on the North Devon coast. It started life as a small fishing village but expanded into a beach resort in the Victorian era, particularly after the arrival of the railway.
Ilfracombe Town Park © TAB
The coastal areas around the town has high cliffs with impressive views. The north coast is a good surfing area and in addition to Ilfracombe's own beaches there are several other stretches of sand within a short drive such as Woolacombe, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands. Pleasure boats offer day trips to Lundy Island from the harbour as well as cruises along the rugged coastline with the chance of spotting seals and other sea creatures.
Once the haunt of Vikings and pirates, Lundy Island (or Puffin Island) is today safely in the hands of the Landmark Trust and is a beautiful and unspoilt place. It lies out in the Bristol Channel some 11 miles (23 km) off the coast of North Devon. During the summer it can be reached by boat from either Bideford or Ilfracombe. It is popular both for day trips and for lengthier stays, the Trust having a number of a holiday properties on their books. The island has three lighthouses, a castle, a church, a shop, a pub and miles of wild cliffs just waiting to be explored.
To the east of the town is a small harbour that was once used as haven for sailing ships in the Bristol Channel when storms were brewing.
Tourist Information Centre:
|The Landmark, Seafront, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9BX - Tel: 01271 863001|
In the 1820s four tunnels were dug through the cliffs at Ilfracombe allowing access through a headland to an area of coastline that had once been difficult to reach. The tunnels could be traversed either on foot or by carriage, and led to two tidal pools used for segregated male and female bathing. Back in those more prudish days, the women were expected to wear a swimsuit covering the whole body while the men frolicked naked in their separate pool. The tunnels still exist today, allowing you to pass through to the beach but perhaps today the men would be advised to take their swim suit.
This architecturally award-winning building with its unusual double-conical design seems to be either loathed or loved locally It is set on the seafront and has a year round program of events.
Victoriana, period costumes, photographs and china.
Opening times: Apr~Oct, daily 10am to 5pm; Nov~Mar, Mon-Fri 10am to 1pm Admission Charge
Location: Wilder Rd, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 8AF - Tel: 01271 863541 - Website
Facilities: gift shop
Set prominently on Lantern Hill by the harbour, this building was once used as a lighthouse. It was built back in 1361 and is reputed to be the oldest working lighthouse in Britain. A light or beacon has been displayed there for over 650 years.