Quite different from the small fishing village that it was up until the beginning of the 19th century, Ilfracombe these days is North Devon’s largest seaside resort, and a beautifully positioned one at that. In many ways a traditional English town by the sea where visions of deckchairs, amusement arcades and fish and chips are fulfilled, Ilfracombe also has some surprises up its sleeve to make it a rewarding destination for a holiday.
One of the most obvious draws to Ilfracombe is its proximity to some of the UK’s top beaches, including the multi award winning one at Woolacombe, and for those that don’t want to venture away from the town by car, there are beaches within walking distance of the harbour. One of these is Tunnels Beach, most unusual in that it is reached by tunnels that were created in the 19th Century. Exploring the coastal path from Ilfracombe, in either direction, will appeal to those that prefer to be more active, and in the town itself there is plenty to see and do. The town has an excellent aquarium and museum, and a visit to the harbour will certainly help one get acquainted with Verity, Damien Hirst’s remarkable sculpture that stands over 60 feet high at the entrance to the harbour, with sword raised. Seeing is believing in the case of Verity, and it’s fair to say that she’s always been a talking point!
Ilfracombe is well geared up to welcome visitors, with a good selection of accommodation and places to eat and drink. It’s also worth noting that the town acts as the departure point, along with Bideford, for those wishing to travel to Lundy Island by public boat.