Ilfracombe Things to Do

  • Ship and Pilot, Ilfracombe pub, Devon, UK.
    Ship and Pilot, Ilfracombe pub, Devon,...
    by planxty
  • Food, Ship and Pilot pub, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
    Food, Ship and Pilot pub, Ilfracombe,...
    by planxty
  • Food, Chick 'n' Land, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
    Food, Chick 'n' Land, Ilfracombe, Devon,...
    by planxty

Most Recent Things to Do in Ilfracombe

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    Lest we forget.

    by planxty Written Nov 9, 2013

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    War Memorial, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
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    If you have read my other Ilfracombe tips, and I appreciate there are not many of them due to the short nature of my stay, you will have read that I had spent a very intersting time in the churchyard of the Holy Trinity Church which is a thing that I really enjoy doing. I was having a bit of a slow amble to get a bus to Barnstaple and thence my train back to London. Not 100 yards from the Church I came upon another place that is of great interest to me, the local War Memorial which is situated in a well-tended Garden of Remembrance.

    I have written on other pages about my interest in these memorials and even contribute to the excellent Imperial War Museum Inventory of War Memorials. I never pass up a chance to pause at one, take a few images for the website and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation of the many millions who have given their lives, and continue to do so, in defence of my country. In fact, and purely coincidentally, I am composing this tip on Remembrance Sunday 2013.

    The memorial itself is of a not uncommon design, a column surmounted by a bronze statue of "Victory" which was sculpted by Courtenay E.M. Pollock (1877 - 1943) and was unveiled on 11th November 1924. The names of the dead of both World Wars and more recent conflicts are given commemorated here.

    Unless you have a specific interest, I do not suggest you go out of your way to visit this but if you are passing, it is worth a look.

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    Another fascinating churchyard.

    by planxty Written Nov 9, 2013

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    Holy Trinity Churchyard, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
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    It is no secret here on Virtual Tourist that I find cemeteries / graveyards / churchyards (call them what you will) endlessly fascinating and never pass up an opportunity to visit one if I can. When I was wandering past the Church of the Holy Trinity on a short visit to Ilfacombe, and having some time in hand before my bus, I decided to pop in for a look.

    The church itself was originally built in the 13th century and modifications began in 1321 on the orders of Bishop Stapledon whne the nave was lengthened and aisles added. This was the first of numerous alterations over the centuries resulting in the rather pleasant building you see today. Regrettably, it did not appear to be open so I had to content myself with a wander round the fairly extensive churchyard which was, after all, my primary purpose. I did, however, spot a fine example of a sundial on the exterior of the building (pictured).

    It was a fascinating place and I had it all to myself, spending quite a bit of time there. I noticed an interesting thing I have only rarely seen in UK graveyards, namely the fairly anonymous gravestones with only initials and year of death given. I am guessing these must be paupers graves when there was insufficient money or family to erect a more ornate memorial. One example is given here.

    I hope the images give some idea and apologies for the quality of some as I was having technical problems with my camera.

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    A very short tip.

    by planxty Written Nov 9, 2013

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    Food, Chick 'n' Land, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
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    As ther title suggests, this is probably going to be one of the shorter tips I will ever write on Virtual Tourist. Well, how much can you write about a fried chicken takeaway really? Returning from the admittedly limited nightlife opportunities in Ilfracombe one evening I was in need of a bit of sustenance and stumbled (probably literally) upon Chick 'n' Land in High Street which was foruitously on my way home.

    I am quite partial to fried chicken as long as it is not greasy and so ordered up a portion of three pieces (no ships / fries) which is my usual purchase from such places. They came up promptly, served up by a friendly member of staff. Straight back home, tucked in and it was delicious.

    Should chicken not be your thing, they also serve up a complete range of "fast food", so take your pick.

    There's not much more I can tell you really other than to suggest that of you are in this part of town and need a late night bite to eat, you could do a lot worse.

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    What a brilliant pub.

    by planxty Written Nov 7, 2013

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    Ship and Pilot pub, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
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    Picture the scene if you will. I had just returned from a few days on the most amazing Lundy in company with the excellent VT member John Gayton, and was suffering a touch from the usual "end of tour blues". I suppose it is always the same as you start to make your way home from a trip, especially one as enjoyable as this one as I had started it all off with a VT meet in Torquay organised by the equally excellent Malcolm aka EasyMalc. It had been the most wonderful fun but now it was winding down and arriving in the early afternoon on a decent summer day I was walking along the quayside and wondering what to do in Ilfracombe.

    It was undoubtedly just fortune that guided my steps and I certainly had no prior knowledge of the town but I found myself outside the Ship and Pilot pub in Broad Street not far from the ferry landing point. In the words of an old Irish song that I still sing occasionally in my set, "I thought a quiet pint wouldn't do me no harm", and so in I wandered. At that point I had genuinely not heard of the place nor read John's glowing report obviously as it was not written until two months later!

    Walking in, I was presented with a great atmospheric old-fashioned "proper" boozer. I was greeted in friendly manner by a young man and enquired as to what ciders were on offer. He duly recited the list, indicating them in turn. OK,it is the West Country, where they pride themselves on cider you could run internal combustion engines on, but this was ridiculous. There were ciders there that would undoubtedly have stripped paint. I plumped for what appeared to be the least suicidal, well it was not even two in the afternoon at this point, I am humping a guitar case and a suitcase and hadn't even found my digs yet. I have made that mistake before!

    For the beer drinkers amongst you, there was a large selection, mostly apparently from local breweries and, as pictured, the premises has been awarded a very highCAMRA award recently (2013). For readers who may not know, CAMRA is the Campaign for Real Ale which champions proper beer as opposed to chemical keg rubbish.

    Having declined John's very kind offer of breakfast, I reckoned that eating might be a good idea even though I rarely eat in the hours of daylight and I had spotted a tray of excellent looking "rolls" behind the bar. I opted for the roast beef and horseradish (pictured) which can never be designated at haute cuisine but the is to miss the point. This is a pub and the food offerings are merely there to soak up the drink. Not haute cuisine for sure but a damned good filled pub roll all the same. Nice fresh roll, good portion of very tasty roast beef and a good dollop of horseradish ensured that it was devoured in fairly rapid order.

    I had noticed a TV screen in the rear of the bar showing cricket. Now the sound was not loud or obtrusive, it is not that kind of place, but I fancied watching a bit of it as I like a bit of the old leather on willow. I found a spare seat and settled myself down. I have subsequently found out that tis place used to have a reputation as a bit of a "rough house" but this was certainly not the case when I visited. I was engaged in very friendly and intersting conversation by a number of people as the overs mounted up and the wickets tumbled.

    After "several" hours, I decided I had better make a move to get to my digs and bade a fond farewell to my new best friends, delightful people all. I am not worried about what this place used to be like, I speak as I find and I found this to be a delightful place with an excellent selection of drink, nice atmosphere, friendly locals, professional staff and...... well that's about all you need, isn't it? Oh, not quite, the toilets were spotless as well!

    This place is well worth seeking out and definitely recommended.

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    Go For A Beer #4 - The Ship and Pilot

    by johngayton Written Sep 22, 2013

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    The Ship and Pilot is another one of Ilfracombe's much-improved pubs. So much so that I've just learned that it's been named as "North Devon Camra Pub of the Year 2013".

    This used to be a real dive of a pub, with naff beer, stick-to-the-feet carpets and customers that you certainly wouldn't want to argue metaphysics with.

    On my last couple of visits I've found it welcoming, spotlessly clean, with great beer, mostly from local breweries, and friendly, chatty regulars. It manages to retain the feel of a proper pub and the only food it offers are ready-made rolls and sandwiches - however it seems that you are more than welcome to pick up takeaway food from one of the nearby cafes and bring it in, provided you buy your drinks here.

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    EXPECT A DIFFERENT MOOD

    by Orkaena Updated May 19, 2013

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    High Tide
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    I am quite surprised by the lovely (even romantic) atmosphere of North Devon.

    Please, don't expect a hectic nightlife, or hot sunny beaches with voluptuous girls dressing a bikini or less, don't expect Casinos or crazy discos. No ladies and gentlemen.

    Here the life has a slower pace, calm and reflexive in a certain way, then be prepared to observe, to hear, to smell, to hike, to walk around meeting this friendly people and their different way of life. Take your camera and go outside for a rich walk, or for an excursion by boat, or fishing, or just sit in one of the various pubs and rest with a beer in your hands. As you can imagine after read my boring speech, I was needing this kind of places, then, don't believe me at all.

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    Take A Trip To Lundy Island

    by johngayton Updated Nov 1, 2012

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    The Oldenburg Loading Supplies at Ilfracombe
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    This is something I've yet to do because it doesn't sail on Mondays (which is my only full day off during the summer) but is definitely on my "To Do" list.

    Lundy is a three-and-half mile long, half-mile wide, chunk of granite sitting out where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic. The Island is almost totally undeveloped and is a popular destination for walkers and for appreciating the wildlife, both marine and onshore.

    The Island is provisioned by the passenger-carrying supply ship the MS Oldenburg (locally referred to, affectionately, as the "Old Bugger"). The Oldenburg sails alternately from Bideford and Ilfracombe from late spring until autumn and offers both day trips and passage for longer stays (Lundy has 23 individual buildings which are available for short stays).

    From Ilfracombe the crossing takes about 2 hours and the ship has a bar, buffet, shop, information centre and heated saloons. The adult day return fare, at the time of writing (June 2009) is 32.50 GBP which includes the entry fee to the Island.

    UPDATE 2012 Now that I'm living and working here on Lundy you can ignore the first sentence of this tip!!

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    Go For A Beer #3 - The George and Dragon

    by johngayton Updated Jun 30, 2009

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    Frontage
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    Next door to the Prince of Wales is the George and Dragon, reputedly Ilfracombe's oldest pub dating back to 1360, and of course reputedly haunted. This is characterful, cosy, pub with neither a juke box nor a fruit machine.

    Unfortunately on my single visit I was the only person there but the barmaid was friendly and chatty - I think she was grateful to actually have a customer! The beer (Skinners "Betty Stogs") was in perfect condition and not too expensive.

    Unfortunately no beer garden tho'!

    According to the barmaid the George is much more of a dining pub and indeed it is recommended by the AA for its "no-nonsense" food.

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    Go For A Beer #2 - The Prince of Wales

    by johngayton Updated Jun 30, 2009

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    Frontage
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    This is an atmospheric backstreet locals pub, a little bit off the tourist track. It is however just round the corner from the bus station and so ideal for a beer when waiting for the bus.

    This is snug place with low beamed ceilings, flagstone floors and solid wooden fittings. Beer, the locally-brewed Otter, was spot-on and service friendly, although not particularly swift as the afternoon barman has a habit of disappearing - I've been in on two occassions now and neither time was he actually behind the bar! Both times when he did appear he was very apologetic - but Hey, you don't come to North Devon to be in hurry!

    The big plus for me personally is the tranquil little beer garden out the back (for reasons which will be obvious if you visit pic #2).

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    Go For A Beer #1 - Pier Tavern

    by johngayton Updated Jun 30, 2009

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    Frontage

    This is definitely Ilfracombe's best located pub, sitting on the quayside. Although it is a magnet for us tourists it does have a pleasantly local feel to it. Beer and food are relatively cheap and although I haven't eaten here the food did look good - proper pub food! Beer was in good nick (Wadsworth 6X if I remember correctly), service was swift and friendly and although you can't take your beer out to the quayside there is a slightly scruffy beer garden out the back, the upper level of which overlooks the sea.

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    Walking The Coastal Path

    by johngayton Written Jun 29, 2009

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    The Footpath Leading East
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    Ilfracombe sits in yet another stunning section of North Devon's coastal path and a short walk either East or West of the town leads to spectacular rocky scenery and interesting little coves.

    This part of the path has a couple of steep sections but is fairly-well maintained and the climbs well worth their rewards. Not only are the walks a pleasure but in either direction lead to cracking pubs (at Lee Bay to the West and Combe Martin to the East).

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    Take A Coastal Cruise

    by johngayton Updated Jun 29, 2009

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    The
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    There are a couple of operators offering short cruises from Ilfracombe, the "Ilfracombe Princess" and the "Obsession". These allow you to enjoy the spectacularly dramatic rocky cliffs of the coastline and as a bonus often encounter marine mammals such as seals and dolphins.

    The standard trips are about 90 minutes, cost from 12 pounds and both companies also offer tailored charters. Sailing times will depend on tides and the info is on the boards at the harbour. The booking office is also on the harbour in front of the Pier Tavern.

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    St Nicholas Chapel

    by johngayton Written Jun 29, 2009

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    The Chapel on its Hill
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    Sitting atop the appropriately named Lantern Hill is the St Nicholas Chapel which has the dual function of being a place of worship as well as the harbour's lighthouse. This tiny building dates back from the 14th century and now hosts a small local history museum in addition to its other functions.

    The short walk up its hill gives a great overview of the town and harbour and the little museum is worth a visit. Entry is free, although a small donation is always appreciated, and there is a little gift shop too.

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    If You Are A Boaty Sort!

    by johngayton Updated Jun 29, 2009

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    The
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    Ilfracombe is one of North Devon's main lifeboat stations being the base for the inshore D-class "Deborah Brown" and the all-weather seagoing Mersey-class "Spirit of Derbyshire". The lifeboat station is open to the public and hosts a small museum for which entry is free (although a small donation is appreciated).

    The lifeboat ramp also serves as a general slipway for private craft - though you should note that the lifeboat may need to use it and so it should never be obstructed!

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    Aquarium

    by darkjedi Updated Mar 11, 2007

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    Ilfracombe aquarium sits on the quayside. Its a small building with a walk through corridor with about twelve wall aquariums and a large pool basin. It costs £5 to enter which I thought was a little expensive for whats there.

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