What is it?
Clovelly is a charming old fishing village on the North Devon Coast. It’s 10 miles west of Bideford. The Sat Nav post code is EX39 5TA.
5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+
Babies / Toddlers & Preschool
£ – You have to pay a £6.75 entrance fee per adult and £4.25 per child to enter the village. Families cost £17.75. This is because the village is privately owned. Extra costs depend on if you’re passing through on a day trip, if you’re staying overnight and what you do while you’re there.
What’s on offer
With a population of 443 people, Clovelly is a quiet, sleepy and rather quaint little village in North Devon. Don’t write it off just yet. It’s not too sleepy, though, as it was once a lively fishing village
The village is a huge tourist attraction for several reasons, one of which is its ridiculously steep and cobbled main street (which believe it or not has actually been pedestrianized). It’s known for it’s beauty – just imagine stepping inside the postcard and you’ve got it. Clovelly is also famous for it’s donkeys (who helped the fisherman carrying their goods from the shores in the past), the sensational views over the Bristol Channel and it’s parish ties to Lundy Island.
Your entrance fee is actually quite reasonable and allows you entrance to the village, an audio-visual programme sharing Clovelly’s lively history, access to the Kingsley Museum and Fisherman’s Cottage, Clovelly Court Gardens and parking. Families who fancy a more authentic walkthrough of Clovelly’s history can enjoy Jana Edwards’ educational Clovelly Village walking tour. You can also meet the donkeys at their stables by the quay. If you want to walk down to the Clovelly harbor down the steep, cobbled village street – you can. You can pay a fare to be driven back to safer ground in a Land Rover.
Boat, bird, crafts and pottery enthusiasts will find specific events and workshops here that are suited to their tastes. There are some shops for any shopaholic mums (or kids) but you’re not going to find a Mothercare or ELC in Clovelly. There are silk and pottery stores in the village. You can also try the slightly tacky visitors shop and some slightly less touristy silversmith and ‘hall of names’ stores near the visitors centre. There are hotels and restaurants to stay and eat in during your visit, but you can of course prepare your own picnic.
The village really is beautiful and packed with history, so if your family enjoys great views and learning something along the way, then this may well be the place for you. Clovelly’s famous donkeys will be a big hit with little ones. They’ll also love meeting some friendly owls.
Some of Clovelly’s charm is related to the fact that there are hardly any cars here – it’s totally traffic free, particularly the main street. This is a huge bonus for any families used to the hustle and bustle of big cities like London!
What to watch out for
– You do have to pay money to enter the village as it is privately owned.
– With such a huge, out of place visitors centre, Clovelly loses some of it’s ‘hidden gem’ charm. It’s not a hidden gem, because it’s so self-aware of it’s value as a tourist destination.
– The village street is so steep that it’s not really suitable for very young children, children who get tired easily or are unsteady on their feet and even mums and dads with pushchairs. If you do take a pushchair or brave it with your child, be prepared to carry that buggy up and down. Be prepared to piggyback your child all the way up the enormous street.
– Some families will feel that there is not sufficient offers to keep young children entertained here and that the site can be over crowded, particularly if you want to eat at one of the village’s few eateries.
– Some visitors think Clovelly is overpriced for families in terms of what there is to do in the actual village. This is a shame, of course. Families who feel this way will have much more fun in Ilfracombe, where you can visit attractions like Watermouth Castle and Tunnels Beaches.
– It’s not the best place to bring older relatives with or relatives with walking difficulties.
– Clovelly can be quite romantic, so if possible, why not consider a visit without the kids (somehow).
What the owners say
“World famous for our cobbled, traffic-free street, donkeys, sledges & historic harbour.”