Clovelly village, located in North Devon, is famous for its cobblestone paths, white cottages and small harbour. That’s not all that grabs tourists attention each year, though! Clovelly is proud to present itself as a timeless village. Fun fact: in 2020 Clovelly village was voted one of England’s most instagrammable villages. So, should you pay to visit Clovelly Village?
Clovelly: A Unique Village
I was first drawn to Clovelly village when I read that it is a village with no cars and no individually owned properties. I mean, no cars at all? Not one property is individually owned? In fact, the village has only been owned by 3 families since the Norman Conquest. You can read more about Clovelly’s history on their website.
Over the decades, Clovelly hasn’t changed much. It consists of breathtaking views, beautiful old cottages, cobblestone walks, tiny alleys and side streets, and lovely gardens. You’ll even spot a donkey along your stroll!
Interesting fact: You might notice that the cobblestone path, sometimes referred to as the ‘Down-along’ is made from similar-looking stones that you’ll spot on the beach. That’s because the stones from the beach are those used in creating the cobblestone path.
Should I Really Pay to Visit?
England is full of beautiful villages that come with great history, so why would you pay to visit one when you can visit dozens of others for free?
This is definitely something I asked myself. To be totally honest actually, even as we paid I was still offended by having to pay £8.25 per adult ticket. (Price accurate as of summer 2021) The woman at the visitor centre was so friendly and full of smiles as I regrettably handed over my credit card, feeling as though I was buying one of the donkeys at that price. It adds up quick when you’re paying for a family!
However, and please note that this is solely my opinion, I can say that it is worth the money. The £8.25 per adult gets you parking, access to the toilets, Fisherman’s cottage, the film show (which is about 20 minutes long and gives you the history of Clovelly village), Kingsley museum and Clovelly Court Gardens. Not to mention the walk along the cobblestone path and you must take a visit to see the donkeys. Plus, your admission fee also goes towards the upkeep of the beautiful village.
So when you think of it like this, I would say it’s a no brainer. I’ve paid more than £10 just for a museum entrance fee once! Parking alone also seems to be increasing each year!
Donkeys and Sledges in Clovelly
As I mentioned earlier, there are no cars on the cobblestone path that leads down to the small harbour. So the residents use the donkeys and sledges to move their shopping and other goods. As you wander around the village, you will spot sledges tied up outside of the cottages.
For centuries the donkeys would move really heavy items. Now, however, they are retired from heavy trips and are more for children to enjoy. The sledges are the full-time heavy lifters! They move everything from a food shop, furniture and even building materials. While we were there I saw painters using a sledge to get many pots of paint to a cottage.
Spot Clovelly Village’s lifeboat
Many years ago, Clovelly was a very busy fishing port. Catching herring and mackerel. During your visit, you will see many boats in the harbour. Some I believed to be for personal use, others for hire. In the Fisherman’s Cottage, you will read about how a fisherman’s family lived in the 1930s. You’ll also be able to take a look inside at what the living conditions used to look and feel like.
Interestingly, the village was notorious for smuggling and piracy. Even shipwrecks weren’t unfamiliar to the residents. Because of this, in 1870 Clovelly got their very own lifeboat.
MHM Tip: If you want to book a fishing trip, or want more information, ask at the Visitor Centre at the start of your visit. Otherwise, you’ll wander all the way down to the harbour and then have to go all the way back up again!
Walk Along the Quay
As you walk along the quay, you’ll admire the beautiful view of Clovelly village that sits up on the hill. Many would think that you can’t even build on such a steep hill! I found it fascinating to look at all the cottages and how they stand out along the cobblestone path. Why not get some fish and chips from the Red Lion Hotel and sit along the quay?
In the summer months, you’ll spot people jumping off the end into the water below. If you walk all the way to the end of the quay, you’ll find the shipwrecked Mariners’ society plaque.
Fun fact: This is a 14th Century quay!
Wander towards to the Waterfall
When you’re standing on the quay, if you look to the left, you’ll spot a small waterfall. Walk back towards the cottages and walk behind crazy Kate’s cottage (which is the oldest cottage in Clovelly!) on the left. Pass through a tiny alleyway behind the cottages where you will spot interesting knick-knacks built by the residents. Soon you’ll pop out along the water and you can follow the pebbled beach until you reach a large rock. climb over the rock and voila! You’ll spot the waterfall.
This waterfall actually used to water the gardens of Clovelly village. It’s another great spot for a family photo, too!
Clovelly Court Gardens
You can easily miss the gardens if you’re not aware of them. Make sure to walk through the gardens and also visit the 13th Century All Saints church. In the court, you’ll notice the restored glasshouses and the old manor house. It’s amazing to me that after all these years, Clovelly Court is still restored to keep its rich history.
The gardens are full of gorgeous blooms, as well as fruits and vegetables that the Red Lion Hotel use in their meals. They even have some products that you can purchase to take home with you. You can read more about Clovelly Court Gardens here.
Be sure to get directions when you’re at the Visitor Centre. We missed this out completely during our visit and it wasn’t until after we left that I realised it was open to the visitors. Something else that’s part of your ticket price!
Admire the Crafts in the Stable Yard
Walkthrough the pottery shop and take notice of all the detail on the various handcrafted items. You may even spot craftspeople hard at work throughout the stable yard. There are also lovely printed silks that you can buy. If you’re interested, there is an opportunity for you to try some of these skills yourself.
Depending on the time of year you visit, the village donkeys might be around, too!
Walk along Clovelly’s Coast Path
If you are prepared to spend a few hours at Clovelly, then I definitely suggest going on the coast walk. Follow Hobby Drive which winds through the woodland area and at various points offers a view of the lovely little harbour. You’ll pass many viewing points along the way, including Angel’s Wings, Gallantry Bower and Mouth Mill Cove. You can walk all the way to Hartland Point and back.
If you stay on the Hobby Drive Walk and just go to the viewpoint, this is roughly 3 miles and much easier to walk along the path. There are pot-holes along the way.
I definitely suggest packing comfortable shoes for a day out at Clovelly. The cobblestone path can be awkward to walk on, and if you want to take full advantage of the £8.25 ticket price, then you’ll want to go on the coastal path as well as the gardens. Prepare yourself for many hours of walking, with really great views!
To give you an idea of time, walking to Mouthmill cove takes roughly 2 1/2 hours (in total). It’s 4 1/2 miles and has some steep paths in places. There are amazing views along the way, and if you go in the summer months you can spend some time at the beach where you will also find rock pools.
Read the Clovelly Village Brochure Before You Begin
If you’re like me, and you only smile and accept the brochure that the employees give you at the Visitors Centre, you’ll miss out on a lot of interesting parts of Clovelly Village. Definitely take the time to read the brochure while you’re still in the visitors centre as this will massively dictate where you go first. I also suggest staying to watch the 20-minute film show.
A lot of people question whether Clovelly is worth the £8.25 admissions fee. And my honest opinion is that if you are willing to see and explore every inch that this village has to offer, then you can definitely justify this fee. You’d pay more visiting some National Trust sites across England.
PS: If you are tired, or with children, and you’re not too keen on walking back up the hill, you can hire a Land Rover to drive you back up to the top. It’s important to note that this service is only available from Easter to the end of October and it’s an extra charge.
Frequently Asked Questions: Clovelly Village
Is Clovelly dog friendly?
Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a lead. One thing to note: We saw many small dogs (ours included) that struggled to walk on the cobblestones as they were very bumpy and it is a steep walk.
Why do I have to pay to visit Clovelly Village?
Your entrance fee covers parking, clean toilets, the museums, the gardens, donkey visits, coastal walks and maintenance of the village. The small fee is worth it!
Where to eat in Clovelly Devon?
There are the cottage tea rooms and there are small places to grab a takeaway snack such as the general store (pasties and ice cream) along the walk. You can also get take away snacks at The Quay Shop at the bottom of the hill and there’s a pub in the Red Lion Hotel where you can order hot food.
Where to stay in Clovelly Devon?
There is the New Inn and the Red Lion Hotel. Both have wifi and parking available. Some cottages can be spotted on websites such as Airbnb as well
Who owns Clovelly Devon?
The Hon. John Rous who is a direct family descendent took over the Clovelly estate in 1983
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I hope you enjoy your visit to Clovelly Village. Happy Adventuring!