Ilfracombe Travel Guide

  • Harbour, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
    Harbour, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK.
    by planxty
  • http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/22b2e8/
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/22b2e8/
    by planxty
  • Ship and Pilot, Ilfracombe pub, Devon, UK.
    Ship and Pilot, Ilfracombe pub, Devon,...
    by planxty

Ilfracombe Things to Do

  • Aquarium

    Ilfracombe's little aquarium doesn't try to pretend it's in the same league as the superb National Aquarium at Plymouth but it is well worth a visit. It is set out to showcase the diverse marine life around North Devon and is both educational and fun. For a casual visit expect to spend about 30 minutes wandering around and note that the attached...

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  • Lundy Island

    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...

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  • Ship and Pilot

    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...

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  • Walking

    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...

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  • George and Dragon

    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...

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  • Coastal Cruises

    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...

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  • Prince of Wales

    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,...

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  • Relax and Enjoy

    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...

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  • War Memorial

    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...

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  • Fun and Educational

    Ilfracombe's little aquarium doesn't try to pretend it's in the same league as the superb National Aquarium at Plymouth but it is well worth a visit. It is set out to showcase the diverse marine life around North Devon and is both educational and fun.For a casual visit expect to spend about 30 minutes wandering around and note that the attached...

    more
  • If Diving's Your Thing!

    One of the most spectacular places in the UK for diving is Lundy Island. Being a Marine Conservation Zone the crystal waters around the Island offer an unrivalled habitat for wildlife viewing whilst the many wrecks are fascinating to explore - but note that a couple of these, the Iona II and Gull Rock are protected dive sites requiring a...

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  • Lest we forget.

    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...

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Ilfracombe Hotels

Ilfracombe Restaurants

  • Harbour Lights

    Apart from breakfast it's not often I eat in the hotel where I'm staying but here at the Harbour Lights the restaurant is an informal, characterful, bistro facing out onto the lively side street leading to the harbour. The in-room info pack offered a free starter for residents eating before 7 pm and with its seafood emphasis the menu proved...

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  • Prince of Wales

    I've already given the Prince of Wales a good write-up here as a pub - Prince of Wales and now that I've eaten here I'm happily adding it as a restaurant too. This is proper pub food, all home-made, with friendly, swift service, and very reasonable prices. The menu has a snack section with sandwiches, jacket potatoes and baguettes and for those...

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  • Grassroots Cafe

    Needing a pick-me-up in Ilfracombe we spotted this place. My friend had a cheese scone with chili jam and an Americano and I had a cappucino, normal scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream, when in Devon! This all came to about £6. The standard was two scones but we saw the size of them and went for one each. They were delicious warmed up and...

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  • Lynbay Fish and Chips

    I had intended to have a proper sit-down lunch here but the restaurant that I'd fancied turned out to be closed on Mondays. The sun was out and the harbour was inviting and so I decided on the much cheaper al fresco option. Lynbay Fish and Chips is just that - a proper traditional chippie with its offerings of various battered fish, pies, burgers...

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  • Larkstone Cafe

    The Larkstone Cafe and Restaurant is a firm family favourite. The great value food here keeps everybody happy and the leisure park provides a fun space for the kids to run free. Extensive menus offer great choice with light lunches, sharing platters, burgers, cream teas and superb Sunday lunches. Fully licensed with a selection and good wines and...

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  • Royal Britannia Hotel

    The Royal Britannia has a lovely pub as well, as old as the hotel is, here you can enjoy a pint of very good beer or cider, and if you are hungry then order some dishes from the menu, you will be not disappointed. The meals has a singular home made elaboration, and, as in North Devon should be, all ingredients are from the region. The cast is very...

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Ilfracombe Transportation

  • The Slightly Shabby Bus Station

    This is now totally out-of-date but I'll leave it here, having demoted it, just for my own reference.As with most of North Devon Ilfracombe is well-served by local bus services. First Devon is the main service provider and the Ilfracombe based company Filers provides town and village services as well as seasonal buses to Lynton and other nearby...

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  • Ilfracombe Bus Services Update

    Following the closure of the shabby bus station it seems that First have given up this route and it is now operated by Stagecoach South West. Service #21 and #21A, "The North Devon Wave" runs at 20 minute intervals during the day connecting Ilfracombe to Barnstaple town centre (journey time about 40 minutes) with a handy stop at Barnstaple railway...

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  • Catching The Boat To Lundy

    Lundy's supply ship, the MS Oldenburg, is also licensed to carry up to 267 passengers and from the end of March until the end of October makes at least three weekly crossings from North Devon - on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The route is shared between Bideford and Ilfracombe and because Ilfracombe's deep water harbour isn't dependent on...

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Ilfracombe Shopping

  • A Freebie (If you don't buy anything)!

    Since the internationally-renowned artist Damien Hirst moved into the town it has become a bit of an epicentre for the local artistic community. You'll find private art galleries and craft shops all around the town with some very original works, as well as the expected touristy stuff.These are of course free to browse and you'll find the various...

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  • Flappingly-fresh Fish!

    S&P are a company that I've dealt with off-and-on professionally for many years and their experience as fishmongers is second to none. They have their own trawlers and a potting boat and supply many of the local hotels, restaurants and pubs with daily deliveries landed here at Ilfracombe, or the nearby Appledore Fish Dock.In 2009 they opened this...

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  • What's Where

    Ilfracombe has an oddbod mix of shops and services ranging from family-run specialist shops to branches of national chains.Down by the harbour most of the shops are aimed at tourists with the usual seaside souvenirs, some quite upmarket art galleries, the expected fast food restaurants and cafes and even a couple of relatively plush ones.The main...

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Ilfracombe Local Customs

  • Love It or Hate It? The Landmark...

    Long before "Verity" conceived (HA!) Ilfracombe's artistic sensibilities had provoked controversy.In the early 1990's North Devon Council had commissioned a review of arts provision in the district. At the time Ilfracombe's theatre was the council-run Victoria Pavilion which had been built in the 1920's. Despite having had a major refurbishment the...

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  • Love Her or Hate Her? "Verity"

    The locally-resident artist of international repute, Damien Hirst, is well-known for his ability to create controversy. His contribution to local debate here in Ilfracombe is his 66-foot bronze "Verity", which was installed at the harbour in October 2012.The figure is that of a massively-pregnant, naked, woman looking out to sea. Verity stands...

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  • Circumventing The Tides

    Ilfracombe looks out onto the Bristol Channel which has the World's second-highest tidal range - the difference between high and low tides can be as much as 14 metres. The harbour here is a deep-water one and so the pier has been designed to allow passenger-carrying ships, such as Liundy's MS Oldenburg, to be able to dock almost independently of...

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Ilfracombe Warnings and Dangers

  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    by johngayton Updated Jun 29, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Whilst the now spruced-up harbour is one of the town's most attactive features it is still a working quayside with boats tooing and froing and fish being landed. It is quite a safe environment and the quayside is safely wallled. However there are parts which can be dangerous especially when wet and when the Atlantic storms muster and so a little caution is advised. Also don't let young children go unsupervised.

    The Signage Says It All Men at Work!
    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Fishing

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Ilfracombe Off The Beaten Path

  • planxty's Profile Photo

    by planxty Written Nov 7, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have spoken at length here on Virtual Tourist about my belief that you can find fascinating things just about anywhere you go, it is just a matter of keeping your eyes and ears open. People that say there is nothing of interest where they live are, in my opinion, missing the point completely and this tip reflects my conviction entirely. I do apologise for going on about this ad nauseum but it is something dear to me heart. I have gone to the most unprepossessing places and found wonderful things that most people never even see. OK, here endeth the lesson!

    I had spent a very comfortable night in the veyr pleasant Avalon Guest House / Hotel (descriptions vay) in Ilfracombe and was heading off early to catch the fery to Lundy as the guest of the wonderful John Gayton, a dear friend and excellent contributor to this site. I hadn't pid much attention to the srroundings the previous evening when I had arrived and it was well past sunset when I returned later. I had worked out where the harbour was and anticipated a short stroll in good time to get the boat. Walking out the door I spotted, on a house across the road, what looked like a "blue plaque" although not quite in the normal style I normally see in London and elsewhere in the UK. For those of you that do not know, "blue plaques" are put up on buildings where famous people have been born, lived, worked, died or whatever. Regrettably, it seems that Government cuts are now threatening the entire scheme.

    I am attracted by blue plaques like a moth to a flame and just couldn't resist. Wandering straight across the road to what looked like a well-kept terrace house, I had a look at the plaque to find out that this had been the home of Henry Williamson (1895 - 1977), the author of the famous book Tarka the Otter. To my shame, I have never read the book, which was published in 1927, but I have certainly heard of it and it was even turned into a famous film released in 1979.

    You cannot actually visit the building as it is a private dwelling still but it was an interesting start to a day that turned out to be completely wonderful. I wandered towards the harbour with a big smile. I don't want to get on my soapbox again but this was in a fairly nondescript if tidy and pleasant residential street in a Devon coastal town. Just don't ever try to tell me that there are not interesting things to see in the most unlikely places.

    Should you want to visit, it is in Capstone Crescent, almost directly opposite the Avalon Guest House.

    Henry Willaimson's Home, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK. http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/22b2e8/ http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/22b2e8/
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Budget Travel
    • Photography

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Ilfracombe Favorites

  • Dolphins

    The word "awesome" is a word that I hate to hear being used frivolously. To my mind it should be reserved as the superlative of superlatives and not applied to mundane things like "Awesome body" or "Awesome football game" & etc. The first time I found a true use for the term was when I visited the Grand Canyon, the first sight of which literally...

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  • Tourist Information Centre

    As with most North Devon towns Ilfracombe has its Tourist Information Centre to help you make the most of your stay. The office is situated in the rather oddbod building which houses the Landmark Theatre (the one with the often maligned ,but certainly distinctive, concrete chimney-pot things). Here the friendly, knowledgeable local staff will help...

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  • 12 Broad Street

    Much of Ilfracombe's present-day appearance is due to redevelopment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the town enjoyed its status as a seaside resort. This means that there are very few traces of the town's earlier history as an important port and safe harbour.One such is the little shop at 12 Broad Street. This was probably a...

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