Clovelly's modern visitor centre, modelled on a traditional Devon long barn, provides an excellent introduction to the village and its history through a 20 minute audio-visual film. The film also features interviews with local residents and gives one an overview of the village to enhance your visit.
As well as the film the visitor centre also hosts a cafe, souvenir shops, toilet facilities and some historical displays.
BTW This is where you pay your admission fee!
Before entering the village proper there is small park at the top of the hill, Mount Pleasant, which is known locally as the Peace Park. This is a pleasant spot to sit awhile on a sunny day and enjoy the breathtaking view over Bideford Bay. Mount Pleasant is one of the few parts of the village not privately owned, having been gifted to The National Trust in 1921 by the then owner Mrs Christine Hamlyn to be enjoyed in perpuity by residents and visitors alike.
Whilst the village as a whole is a museum piece the local residents would be a bit miffed if visitors were to traipse through their homes and so two of the cottages have been developed as showpieces and open to all. The first of these is Providence House, known as The Fisherman's Cottage.
This shows how a local fisherman and his family lived in the 1930's with period furniture and decor.
Entrance is included in your admission fee.
The second of the village's showpieces is The Kingsley Museum. Charles Kingsley was a Victorian author and clergyman, best known for his children's novel "The Water Babies" and his locally-based historical novel, "Westward Ho!". Kingsley was born in Devon and spent his childhood years here in Clovelly.
The Kingsley Musem is a pleasantly informative little museum with displays on the village's history, Kingsley himself and his relationship with the village. It also houses a small gift shop.
As with The Fisherman's Cottage the entry is included in the admission fee.
If you are walking up the High Street you'll find plenty of benches on route to stop for a breather. The Look Out is the first of these and is where the villagers would sit watching for the fishermen's safe return. This offers a splendid panorama over the bay and if you are up early makes for a great vantage point to watch the dawn rise over Exmoor.
The Look Out was especially useful when I lived here making for an ideal mid-way spot for a breather (read: "cigarette break") on the stagger up the hill after closing time at The Red Lion!
"I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Yep, this is definitely Clovelly's most popular "Thing to Do", especially when the sun's out and more especially with a beer in your hand from The Red Lion!
Clovelly was once a bustling fishing village and the present day quay dates back from the 16th century. Unfortunately the fishing has declined and the village's main trade is now tourism. There are however still a dozen or so active fishing boats, which mostly fish inshore, and supply local restaurants and the village's two hotels.
Clovelly's harbour is abutted both to the east and west by its pebbled beach. From the harbour, to the east, you can see the waterfall about half-a-mile away which makes for a pleasant, though quite strenuous, wander as you negotiate the larger pebbles. Behind the waterfall is a cave which local legend has it was Merlin's (of Arthurian fame) either birthplace or last resting place, depending on who you talk to. Another local legend has it that the large rock in front of the waterfall is in fact where Arthur pulled the sword from the stone.
Legends aside the waterfall can be quite spectacular especially after heavy rain and is quite a popular spot for a picnic which gets you away from the day-tripper hordes!
The whole village, its quay and harbour and its stunning location all make it incredibly photogenic and whether you are just taking a few snaps for your family holiday albums or even looking for those "arty" shots you'll certainly find plenty of opportunity to get the camera out. Best you also pack a spare battery as well!!
There are two hostelries in the village, the New Inn and the Red Lion, the New Inn being the one in the middle whilst the Red Lion is down by the harbour. Both are pretty decent pubs, though they can get insanely busy at times during the season. The New Inn is usually just a stopping point (either up or down) but the Red Lion is a destination in its own right with its harbourside location and tiny snug bar.
The great advantage of the Red Lion for the day-tripper is that you can have a few beers, safe in the knowledge that you no longer have to negotiate the slippery cobbles and can just pop out and take the Land Rover service back up to the car park to get the bus home.
During the summer you tend not to see very many locals around during the day but once the day-trippers have gone home the village reverts back to its own and the little snug bar at the Red Lion is the place to be. Always a good bonhomie as the beers flow, tall tales are told and the occasional spontaneous sing-a-long erupts. As a small bonus for us serious beer drinkers the village has its own brew called Clovelly Cobbler, brewed by the local Countrylife Brewery which is based at The Big Sheep not far down the road at Abbotsham.
and notice the differing architectural styles, and be aware of various local 'attractions'........
Each cottage down the village street has its distinctive identity. Some are half-timbered in the Tudor style, others faced in brick and some with stone from the beach. One particular cottage is decorated with wood carvings brought back from Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps.
When we were there, there was a woman with a FALCON on her arm, happy to show him off and pose for photos.......
Several sweet cats making their afternoon rounds, a couple of whom were most friendly, talking, and enjoying the pets of my friend's children! (see photos)
Clovelly was a childhood home of the Victorian author and social reformer, Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) and the place which inspired him to write his enduring children's classic, ‘The Water Babies’.
Until Kingsley’s work in the mid 19th century and references from Charles Dickens, Clovelly remained almost unknown. In addition to ‘The Water Babies’ Kingsley also published his ‘Westward Ho!’ novel in 1855, in which Clovelly was highly figured, helping to give this unique village a worldwide reputation.
'The Three Fishers' (1851), was a famous poem written as a result of a great fishing tragedy in Bideford Bay.
[again, I forgot to take photos here, but you can see the corner (yellow) of the building in the pic of me with my friend; it is right after the Fisherman's Cottage, as you go down the cobble street]]
The workshop is on the way to the centre of the village, so it is accessible WITHOUT making the trek down the cobbled street, but there is an additional small fee. It is wheelchair accessible.
We did not have time to include this in our afternoon in the village, so this info is taken from the website, which includes photos.
The POTTERY Workshop: On main holidays only, and subject to supervision, visitors can make their own pot.
This workshop was established in 1992 by Clive Pearson and is a family run business. Clive is well known in the area for his beautiful hand thrown pots. He has recently been working with a new glaze creating a range of blue, brown and rust combinations. He is a skilful thrower with over thirty five years of experience. All of his pots are produced next to his home in Clovelly and are hand stamped and dated.
The SILK SHOP: Ann Jarvis has a background steeped in classic design. She was head of the studio at Liberty of London Prints. After ten years at Liberty's, Ann and her illustrator husband Bill moved with their young family to the West Country to start their own company.
Her designs (shown on the website) feature the unique village, it’s cobbled streets, the beautiful lime washed cottages and fishing boats from the harbour, as well as the Red Lion and Angel's Wings.
Ann Jarvis, her husband and daughter work closely with textile designers at their Clovelly workshop.
Courses are open to individuals and groups. Participants are taught with a relaxed, humorous approach to creativity. Workshops are designed to cater for all abilities and beginners are welcome.
Clovelly Silk, Lower Yard, Clovelly, Devon EX39 5TL Tel: 01237 431 033
again, one must walk down the long cobbled street to the harbour/beach area to see this attraction.
Named after a fisherman’s widow, the oldest cottage at Clovelly has one of the best views looking right across the harbour.
She would watch her husband fishing in the bay from an upper window. One day, a squall blew up and Kate watched as her husband drowned; afterward she became demented. One day,in 1736, she put on her wedding dress and walked into the sea to join her husband in his watery grave.
if one is able and has the time, it is very worthwhile to make the trek via the cobbled street to the bottom of the village to the beach harbour and quay area, where you can climb up for a different perspective!
your entrance fee to the village includes touring through a 1930s cottage.
It makes one think that the people were much smaller then, with the low ceilings and small spaces; again I wish I had taken more photos.