Clovelly: A unique fishing village on the coast of England

As a travel lover, I’m always looking for new places to visit in England. During one of the extended bank holiday weekends, I decided to explore the beautiful county of Devon, and that’s when I stumbled upon Clovelly. This picturesque fishing village, located on the coast of the English Channel, is famous for its steep streets and unique history. I was instantly captivated by its beauty and charm.

Clovelly

Clovelly is a relatively small village with a population of around 400. Although it has decreased over the years as many people have moved to larger cities, it still retains its quaint and peaceful atmosphere.

How to get to Clovelly

Getting to Clovelly was not the most effortless journey, but it was definitely worth it. The village is about 20 kilometres west of Bideford, and the best way to get there is by car. A public parking lot allows visitors to park their vehicles before entering the village. It’s important to note that cars are not allowed into the village due to its location on a steep hill.

Clovelly
Clovelly

It is not for a day trip from London, as the journey takes around 4 hours by car. It can be more if there is heavy traffic and congested roads. It’s even worse by train as it takes 4 hours to the nearest train station in Plymouth. Unfortunately, there is no direct service from Plymouth to Bideford or Clovelly. And then the journey from Plymouth to Clovelly takes around 7 hours and several buses.

Entrance to the village

Upon entering the village, visitors must purchase a ticket, which includes an informative video about the history of Clovelly. I highly recommend watching this video as it gives a great insight into the village’s past and how it has evolved.

Clovelly is open to the public all year round, except for some holidays and periods when private events are held. In the summer, it usually opens around 9:00 a.m. and closes around 5:00 p.m., but the opening hours are shortened in winter. It’s always better to check the opening hours on the Internet.

History

Clovelly is one of the oldest villages in Devon, dating back to the 9th century. At that time, it was known as “Clofellea”, which means “Rocky Harbour”. The village gradually developed as a fishing harbour where the fisherman fished mainly tuna, mackerel and lobster.

Fishing has always been the main source of livelihood and income for the inhabitants. During the 19th century, Clovelly became an important port for trade and shipping. Many ships and shipping companies in Clovelly carried goods and traded with neighbouring areas at that time. In addition, Clovelly became a centre for herring fishing during this period, which was subsequently transported throughout Europe.

Reasons to visit Clovelly

Unique architecture

As I walked through the streets of Clovelly, I was struck by its unique architecture. Most of the houses in the village are built of stone walls, which the villages regularly paint white, giving it a rustic and natural look. I admired how they built the houses on this steep hill. I was wondering how they brought all the materials needed to make them.
These trails can be very slippery during rain. As I walked through the streets, I slipped a few times. I recommend comfortable shoes suitable for problematic terrain.

Clovelly
Clovelly
Clovelly

The Fisherman cottage museum is a one-story house that showcases how people lived in the past. The house’s interior reminded me of the cottages in Podolínec, Slovakia, tiny rooms where a whole several-generation family had to fit. It’s incredible how much history is preserved in this small village.

Clovelly Fisherman cottage
Fisherman Cottage museum

A beautiful harbour

Clovelly also boasts one of the most beautiful harbours in England. During high tide, visitors can watch the fishermen at work, and the fresh fish and seafood caught by these fishermen are sold in the village’s restaurants.

Clovelly Harbour
Clovelly Harbour

Fresh fish and seafood

Three restaurants in the village offer fresh fish and seafood caught by fishermen in the morning. I was really looking forward to trying some lobster, but unfortunately, it was sold out in all the restaurants. Instead, I opted for fresh shrimp, which was delicious and tasted like it had been caught that morning.

Clovelly lunch
Lunch with a beautiful view

Unique transportation system

One of the things that make Clovelly unique is its transportation system. Since cars are not allowed in the village, villagers use wooden sledges to transport heavier goods. These sledges can be seen leaning against the fence (check the pictures at the beginning), transporting wood, coal, and other essentials. I found this to be a fascinating way of transporting goods, and it’s impressive how the villagers have adapted to their environment.

Clovelly
Clovelly

In the past, villagers used animals to pull the sledges, but today they are more of an attraction for children.

Clovelly
Clovelly

In conclusion, Clovelly is a charming and unique destination perfect for anyone who loves history and picturesque villages. Its steep streets, beautiful harbour, fresh seafood, and unique transportation system make it a must-visit destination in Devon. Although it may not be the most accessible place to get to, it’s definitely worth the journey. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Clovelly, and I’m sure you will too.

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