Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe
North Devon EX34

 

 

Ilfracombe, with its picturesque harbor sheltered by towering cliffs is not only North Devon’s most popular seaside resort but it also has some completely unique features.

The town is built across hills and valleys cut by the Wilder Brook as it makes its way through the centre of Ilfracombe to the sea. Notice how the weathering of the Devonian slates of the area has turned the beach sand grey. Access to the beaches and rock pools is through man-made tunnels dug through the cliffs.

Ever since the Iron Age, Ilfracombe has been an important port and maritime centre with a population of independently minded and courageous people. It has spawned artists and writers for centuries and has never been afraid to be innovative.

The Landmark Theatre
The most recent and obvious evidence of this approach is The Landmark Theatre – two modern conical structures reminiscent of a power station’s cooling towers. Residents either hate it or love it, but it is certainly something to see.
 
Damian Hirst
Another extraordinary landmark is the Damian Hirst sculpture of Verity currently located on the pier in Ilfracombe. Artist, Damien Hirst, owns several properties in the town, as well as some farmland, and an art "factory" on a local trading estate. He is involved in several major local initiatives and a number of his works can be seen in the "Number Eleven, The Quay" Art Gallery.
 
The Lighthouse
The majority of the town was built in the last third of the 19th century but one of the oldest buildings is the 14th century Chapel of St Nicholas perched on a crag above the harbor. The chapel first showed a light in 1650 and, amazingly, continues to be the lighthouse for Ilfracombe harbour.
 
Shopping
The High Street is buzzing with traditional local shops such as hardware stores, butcher's and baker's, but it also has the major banks and building societies and small branches of many national or regional shop chains. A fresh food Farmers’ Market is held fortnightly in the Lantern Community Centre, and inshore fishing boats harvest the local lobster, crabs and whelks.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:    External Link
 
Boat Trips
During summer, many private charter, sea cruise and coastal tour boat operators sail from the harbour. One of the most attractive looking boats is the seventy year old Waverley paddle steamer. For further information visit  Web:  Waverley Excursions    External Link
 
Ferry Service to Lundy Island
The harbour is also one of the departure points for the passenger ferry service to Lundy Island. From the end of March to the end of October, sailings depart up to 4 days a week, from either Bideford or Ilfracombe depending on tides. For further information go to  Web:  National Trust/ Lundy Island    External Link
 
Walking
Surrounded by magnificent cliff scenery with stunning views, Ilfracombe makes a good walking centre. The long-distance South West Coast Path traverses the cliffs and passes through the town. This part of the coast is also followed by the Tarka Trail, the long walk which traces the wanderings of Tarka the Otter in Henry Williamson's evocative 1927 book.
 
Details and maps for these walks can be obtained from the Ilfracombe TIC located in the Landmark Theatre complex.
 
Festivals & Events
Ilfracombe loves a festival and each year, the residents and school children celebrate their heritage. These celebrations include six carnivals - a “May Dayp led by a "Green Man”; the Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration”, a week-long programme of events held in June to celebrate a time of the town's prosperity; a large street carnival procession during August; the "Sea Ilfracombe" festival in September; the “Lighting of the Lights” held during November; and at Christmas, a “Christingle”.
 
Two other charitable events are organised each summer by Ilfracombe Round Table. Both make use of Ilfracombe Pier as a display area. The first of these is the annual "South West Birdman" contest which involves entrants seeking to 'fly' from the pier in home-made flying machines. The second event is "Rescue Day", an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the activities of the emergency services. The highlight of the day is a simulated air-sea rescue involving the launch of the Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, a Sea King helicopter from RAF 22 Squadron, Exmoor Search and Rescue team and local Fire, Ambulance and HM Coastguard services.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:    External Link
 
Notable People
Many notable people have lived in Ilfracombe and a number of blue plaques mark where they resided. Actor Peter Sellars made his stage debut in Ilfracombe, the Collins sisters (Joan and Jackie) were evacuated to the town during the Blitz, and Henry Williamson, author of Tarka the Otter, lived in Brittania Row for many years. Current residents include the artist George Shaw, short listed for the 2012 Turner Prize and Jason Twist, twice World Champion at 8-ball pool.
 
The World and 2012 Olympic Champion triple jump athlete Jonathan Edwards lived in the town whilst his father was the vicar of St Philip & St James Church. A mosaic on the seafront near the Landmark Theatre demonstrates the length of his jump and celebrates this world record-breaking leap.
 
Contact & Further Information
Website   Visit Infracombe    External Link
 
Getting There
- By Car
Ilfracombe is at the southern end of the A361. This road is the town's main connection with the South West England motorway, the M5.
 
- By Rail
The nearest National Rail railway station is in Barnstaple and buses provide the public transport link from there to Ilfracombe. Regular bus services to Barnstaple are operated by Stagecoach South West. There are several smaller routes around the town run by Roy Filer Coaches.
 
- By Coach
A twice-daily national coach service operated by National Express route 502 connects Ilfracombe to London Victoria Coach Station via Heathrow Airport.
 
Seasonal route 300 – operated by Filers – connects Ilfracombe to Lynton and there connects with a bus operated by Quantock, to Minehead and Taunton in Somerset.
 
Google Maps - Ilfracombe