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Clovelly North Devon

Clovelly Village, North Devon

Clovelly is a small privately owned village nestled away on the North Devon coast. It is most famous for it’s steep cobbled street, resident donkeys, and stunning views across North Devon’s coast and countryside. The cobbles are far too steep for regular traffic, hence, traffic is banned from the village…it’s like stepping back in time!

Cars are parked at the top of the hill by the Visitor Centre, where an admission fee will be charged. This covers parking, entrance to the village, admission to the audio-visual show, the Fisherman’s Cottage, the Kingsley Museum, and Clovelly Court Gardens.

Throughout the year Clovelly plays host to many traditional maritime themed events and festivals, as well as talks, plays, charity events, and live music. To keep up with ‘What’s On’ in Clovelly, please visit the Clovelly News page.

What is there to see and do in Clovelly?

Clovelly Court Gardens – Discover the outstanding gardens that lie behind the walls of Clovelly Court Gardens. These carefully tended gardens enjoy perfect growing conditions in this sheltered sunny corner of North Devon. Buy bedding plants, herbs, freshly dug vegetables, and harvested fruit from the gardens to take home. The Gardens are open all year round, from 10am to 4pm.

Visitor Centre – Before you set off to see the rest of the Village, be sure to stop off at the Visitor Centre, where you can begin your tour. The Centre is modelled on a traditional Devon long barn, and in-keeping with the history of the area.  Enjoy a quick drink and a bite to eat in the café restaurant – you’ll need your energy for the cobbled hill! Sit out on the terrace soak in the incredible views of the North Devon coast and Bideford Bay.
Clovelly Donkeys
Donkey Stables – Clovelly donkeys are one of the Village’s top attractions, and loved by everyone who lives and works here, hence, the name of our shop! Thanks to the donkeys, Clovelly became a successful fishing port; it was the strong and reliable donkeys that carried heavy baskets of fish through the narrow streets and up the cobbles from the harbour to the carriers’ carts.

Today, the donkeys are still a key part of the village, but are no longer used to transport heavy loads on sledges, during the summer months the donkeys now give rides to visitors. You can also take part in hands-on day courses at the stables with owners Sue and Bart. To find out more, visit

Fisherman’s Cottage – The  Fisherman’s Cottage gives visitors a real insight into how fishermen and their families used to live in Clovelly in the 1930s. For centuries, the main occupation of the people of Clovelly has been fishing, and so this fascinating museum is a must for learning about Clovelly’s roots and traditions. The Cottage is decorated using traditional decor, furniture and ornaments, and in the living room you’ll find the original well which was used by the family to collect water for the villagers.

Kingsley Museum – Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), famous author of ‘The Water Babies’ and ‘Westward Ho!’ came to Clovelly in 1831 at the age of 11 to live with his family. Whilst in the museum, listen to Joss Ackland, a celebrated actor and another of Clovelly’s famous residents recite one of Kingsley’s most highly acclaimed poems -‘The Three Fishers’ , written in 1851, telling the story of three fishermen’s wives waiting in vain for their husbands to return during a terrible storm in Bideford Bay. As you enter the study, you will see Kingsley sat in his study composing a letter to his bride-to-be.There are two other rooms which have informative displays and images detailing Clovelly’s vast history and Charles Kingsley’s links with Devon. There is also a souvenir shop.

Lifeboat Station – Clovelly’s first lifeboat station was built in 1870, and had one lifeboat which was 33 feet long, built of wood, and rowed by a crew of sturdy oarsmen. Sadly, in 1988, the RNLI took Clovelly’s permanent lifeboat out of service, however the villagers set up their own inshore rescue boat to serve the local, and often dangerous, coastline. In 1996, the RNLI returned, extending the boatshed and enhancing the inshore rescue service. 4 years later, the lifeboat station was extended and modernized, and the completed building won a number of awards for conservation.

Clovelly HarbourThe lifeboat house is often open to visitors during the summer – it’s a must for learning about sea rescue and seeing the fantastic work of the RNLI lifeboat crews.
Clovelly Quay – In the 13th century, Clovelly’s very first quay was constructed, using very basic materials and builind methods. This saw a fishermen from Clovelly able to fish in Bideford Bay in search of herring and mackerel.  In the 17th century Mr George Cary (then owner of Clovelly) built a stronger and more substantial Quay for the village, which acted as an “arm” to protect the village, boats and inhabitants from the strong waves, wind and weather. This protection saw Clovelly grow into the bustling and successful fishing village we know today.

Visit Clovelly Quay and see the tremendous building work that went into creating this feat of construction which has gone on to create a thriving fishing village. Fishermen still use the quay and will be happy to tell tales of the sea!