Clovelly, North Devon


Could this be the only inhabited village in England where you have to pay to get in? It’s worth it.



Clovelly used to be a fishing village and in 1901 had a population of 621. It is a cluster of largely wattle and daub cottages on the sides of a rocky cleft; its steep main street descends 400 feet (120 m) to the pier, too steeply to allow wheeled traffic. The quaint street is lined with houses, a small number of shops, a cafe and a public house. All Saints’ Church, restored in 1866, is late Norman, containing several monuments to the Cary family, Lords of the Manor for 600 years.

Unusually, the village is still privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the middle of the 13th century, nearly 800 years. The scenery has been captured by artists for its richness of colour, especially in Clovelly Court and along The Hobby, a road cut through the woods and overlooking the sea. The South West Coast Path National Trail runs from the top of the village and the section from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular (edited from Wikipedia).



No brakes..

As there are no cars in Clovelly, or delivery vans, anything brought into the village is carried by sled. There’s clearly a knack to it.



The favoured design appears to be a pair of bread baskets attached to a couple of wooden runners.



We picked our way down the hill on the cobbled street, past idyllic cottages with burgeoning and colourful gardens.



 Historic mode of transport?

Posing for tourist photographs now, these former beasts of burden have an easier life.



 The street actually passes through a building at one point..

It’s not difficult to see why there are no cars. A beautiful glimpse of the harbour beyond.



The harbour wall



Oft frequented look out point



Made it. Looking back from the top of the harbour wall.



The lower part of Clovelly village.

Unless you happen to have access to a boat, the only way now is up. Clovelly is a place that requires stout comfortable shoes and a reasonably healthy constitution. A land rover service operates from the beach, taking an alternative road back up the hill. But we did it the hard way, after an ice cream of course. Toffee fudge and clotted cream. Oh my.



 Half way..



Another refreshment stop.

There was no delay… She must have been having a good day.



Crinodendron hookerianum

Not hardy throughout the UK, but no worries here. I’m tempted to risk it.



The kitchen garden, Clovelly Court

Ticket price to Clovelly includes a look around the manor house kitchen garden. Oh to have a greenhouse as spacious as this. Peaches, oranges and lemons, grape vines… And in the vegetable beds, not a slug nibble in sight. If there had been a gardener around we’d have asked..



 In the formal garden, a rather ornate wall

 Chloris recently suggested that I plant Erigeron karvinskianus in my terraces wall. She was right.



 This diminutive fern too. I think it is Asplenium trichomanes, the maidenhair spleenwort.



All in all, a rather nice way to end the day.



2018-04-04T19:26:43+00:00June 22nd, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Jane and Lance Hattatt June 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica:

    Although it is many years since we were there, we have very fond memories of Clovelly which, surely, has to be one of Devon’s most attractive coastal villages, if not the most attractive. You obviously had a wonderful day there and clearly enjoyed the very best of weather and now, looking at and reading this post, we are pining for a real Devonshire cream tea.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      It was the cream tea or the ice cream… diets are such dreadful things. The ice cream had it by a whisker on account of the fudge.

  2. countrysidetales June 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    We went last year. It’s fabulous, isn’t it? That is Maidenhair Spleenwort- it was growing in great profusion in the walls of the youth hostel we stayed in in Dartmoor in April 🙂

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the ID confirmation. Would you believe, after we got back I found one in our wall! Only the one though, must now find out how I propagate ferns. All those spore stages and stuff, it’s not straightforward is it.

  3. Sigrun June 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Wow again, what beautiful pictures. My husband and I – we both have seen your pictures and are deeply impressed. Realy wonderful.


    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      It’s worth a visit Sigrun, if you are ever down this way.

  4. Jacqueline June 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica,
    Like The Hattatt’s, it’s been a very long time since I visited Clovelly …. in my teens I think !! { that’s a very, very, very long time ago !! }….. but, it is still the beautiful, pretty place that I remember. I still find it odd that you have to pay to ‘ get in ‘ though !! I don’t know of any other places where you have to do that but, I could be wrong. Does it help pay for the upkeep ? It is so lovely strolling down to the harbour but, quite challenging on the way up. Reminds me of when we go to Italy and are always walking UP !!
    Beautiful gardens and yummy food …. a very nice day out and, as always, you take such wonderful photographs. XXXX

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Yes, it pays for the upkeep. I’ve been twice and on both occasions there has been work going on, you can see scaffolding in one of the pics. Thanks Jackie.

  5. Jennifer June 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    What a fascinating place to visit. It looks almost completely timeless in your photos and even more so when you add in donkeys and bread-basket sleds for dragging items in and out of the village. Thanks for sharing, it’s so interesting. 🙂

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      It does have a timeless quality to it. The visitor centre at the top had me worried that it might be very touristy, but it’s not really. It’s easy to imagine how it would have looked centuries ago, I doubt much has changed.

  6. Marian June 22, 2014 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    This is so pretty and well worth the effort. Great post!

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marian, I worked off the ice cream I think!

  7. Pauline June 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    It’s a while since we have been, I know we went when the children were little and also after we moved here, it is a lovely place to visit. Well done you, managing to walk back up, my muscles just wouldn’t do it these days! You seemed to have the perfect day for it accompanied by just the right amount of food!

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      Gardening on a hillside does have the advantage that calf muscles are well developed. Even so, a few stops on the way back up seemed to be in order. I blame it on the heat. It was a lovely day, but perhaps not for hill climbing.

  8. Freda June 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Oh my that is pretty! Erigeron karvinskianus is wonderful – it sprinkles around delightfully. Thanks for a lovely post.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      I’ve been trying to find some, unsuccessfully so far. I might have to bite the bullet and experiment with plant shopping on line.

  9. Crafty Gardener June 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    What a picturesque village … I would pay to go in and look around and take photos … oh, the photo opportunities there.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Plenty of photo opportunities and great views, not least because of the different levels. Odd to be looking down at a seagull on a chimney pot!

  10. islandthreads June 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Jessica what a lovely day out, nice to see some where has some sun, thanks for sharing, the cobbled street reminds me I have been meaning to say this, I followed your link to your discovered cobbled path, how wonderful, both the path and the history, and I know about concrete paths the few I have are concrete, I love them as they are weed free paths unlike the shingle I’ve tried that does not work in the wet garden!
    I love the greenhouses not for the fruit but because I could still garden even if it is raining, Frances
    ps was thinking of you as GQT was from Devon this week,

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Gardening in the rain, wouldn’t that be nice.. I bet that greenhouse roof doesn’t leak like mine does.

  11. Em June 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    What a day for it! Wouldn’t want to be the postie there, sledge or no sledge.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      The grocery delivery man must love it too..

  12. Christina June 22, 2014 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, now that is something! My husband and I have been in Clovelly last week, so we “almost run into each other”! I wanted to post about it, too, but you beat me to it. Great post! I agree with you that Clovelly is well worth the entrance fee. We enjoyed our day spent there tremendously. Unfortunately we were too tired to see the Clovelly Court Kitchen Garden after we left the Clovelly village. Warm regards

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness. We were there on Friday.. how amazing if we had passed each other on the street. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and hope you had a really good holiday in Devon, what fantastic weather we managed to lay on for you.. look forward to seeing your photographs!

  13. Joanne June 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    It looks lovely, so idyllic! Looks like you had a wonderful time there.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      It’s a beautiful village, and the sunshine really made it!

  14. Jo June 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    It looks fabulous. We’ve stayed in North Devon but never made it to Clovelly. We’ll be staying in North Cornwall very soon, not too far away so I’ll have to see if we can make it this time, it certainly looks worth visiting.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Take comfortable shoes! Apart from the scratches from the sleds the cobbles show remarkably little wear considering how long they must have been there. I’m glad I had well cushioned trainers.

  15. rachel June 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    We were there a couple of weeks ago, and took many photographs too – but it was so crowded, the house fronts looked tired and some were rather scruffy. Your pictures make it look absolutely charming – as indeed it is, but perhaps the weather and the milling crowds were against us that day, I think; we are obviously the odd ones out. I kept thinking it must be very difficult to live there!!

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      I think we struck lucky, it wasn’t anywhere near as crowded as I feared it might be. Yes, quite difficult to live there, I complain enough about our bit of hill but that’s a completely different league.

  16. Denise June 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I have visited Clovelly a few times in my life. The last time was with Andy’s pensioner parents about three years ago. They insisted on walking back up instead of catching the LandRover. It was triumph we marched down as a four and returned as a four with all hearts and lungs intact!

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      I am grateful that marching up our 84 steps every day keeps us relatively fit, the gradient of that hill is cunningly deceptive.

  17. Sue@GLAllotments June 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    We went there years ago and I can remember thinking on the way down that IO wasn’t looking forward to going back up!

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      The trick is to stop off and have a look around the shops to get your breath back… and the tea room!

  18. Mark and Gaz June 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Stunning, absolutely stunning! And it amazes me as well how up to now I’m still discovering new places to visit in the UK.

    • Jessica June 22, 2014 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks guys. I’m still discovering my own county! But I hope to get to some of the iconic Cornish gardens this year too.

  19. bushbernie June 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen this place on one of our Aussie travel shows. It looks quite an amazing little corner of the world. Thanks so much for sharing your day out. Lovely photos of a truly stunning looking place. It’s on my must-see-one-day list!

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 1:17 am - Reply

      Th weather has been so good here lately that we felt it was about time we treated ourselves to a day out. There are quite a few similar villages dotted around the Devon and Cornwall coasts, fishing was a major industry at one time. Still is in some places.

  20. woolythymes June 23, 2014 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Had never heard of this little place…and now it’s firmly on my ‘bucket list’!!!!! How lucky to have such a picture perfect day, too!!!

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      Well worth seeing Steph, plenty more like it to add to the list if ever you decide to come this way!

  21. Virginia June 23, 2014 at 1:30 am - Reply

    What memories! Thanks Jessica. We went there at Christmas in 1979, when I was pregnant. He’s now 34! Back then there was no entry fee (that I recall) and the donkeys were still the bearers. We stopped at that same Tea Rooms and the not-so-old biddy made wonderful coffee with hot milk and delicious scones. The stop got us warm after the walk and energy for the trip back up … slowly as I remember!

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      You were brave, the walk back up is tiring enough without extra weight! The entrance fee is a relatively recent development I think, and a visitor centre at the top. Personally I’d prefer it without either, but I guess without them the village would struggle to survive. It was badly flooded a year or so back but there is no evidence of that now.

  22. Christina June 23, 2014 at 8:07 am - Reply

    You brought back some very happy memories of visiting Clovelly several times in the past. I don’t remember an entrance fee but if it includes the kitchen garden I suppose it isn’t too bad. I don’t think that was open when I used to visit. Lovely sunny day!

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      I love walled kitchen gardens, even if I do come away feeling pretty much a failure given my own dismal efforts. But it is a good way of learning how the professionals manage it. Little by little I will get there.

  23. Amy at love made my home June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Clovelly us a wonderfully beautiful place isn’t it, so very English it seems to me as well, but I would not want to live there – all those tourists!!! Just kidding!!! It is very picture skew isn’t it. I have never been to Clovelly Court or heard of it before though, so it was very nice to see your lovely pictures! xx

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      When the tourists have all gone home it must be nice. I can imagine sitting outside the pub on a warm summer’s evening looking out over the harbour. It’s the practicalities that would defeat me… I think here is bad for carrying home bags of shopping in the rain!

  24. frayed at the edge June 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    The donkeys were featured in last month’s Landscape magazine. It looks a lovely place to visit – I shall add it to the list!

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      I thought of you when I saw the donkeys. We went up to the stables to see more of them too.

  25. Antoinette June 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous and you had by. the looks of it perfect weather :-).

    • Jessica June 23, 2014 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Any hotter and it would have been hard going up that hill… thanks Antoinette.

  26. snowbird June 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Wow, what an astonishing place! I can’t get over how everything is pulled along in home made sleds! I love the pics, the views are wonderful and I bet it’s so quiet without the racket of cars….lovely donkey too!xxx

    • Jessica June 24, 2014 at 12:11 am - Reply

      The residents of Clovelly must have permanently bruised ankles, and well developed arm muscles from dragging the sleds back up!

  27. Suzanne June 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    What super photos. Looks like a wonderful place. Wish I could win big money and live in a place like that. The town, not the manor.
    Is it far from you? Love your part of England.

    • Jessica June 24, 2014 at 12:32 am - Reply

      You’d miss your garden, the ones I saw in Clovelly were tiny, albeit perfectly formed. It’s not too far and quite an easy drive. We are well placed for getting all over Devon and down into Cornwall, just need to find the time to do it more often!

  28. nataliescarberry June 24, 2014 at 3:10 am - Reply

    Thanks for taking me with you to this lovely, quaint little town! Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica June 24, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, thanks Natalie.

  29. elaine June 24, 2014 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Such a lovely place but I’m not sure I could manage those steep hills every day.

    • Jessica June 24, 2014 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Kill or cure for my knees I would think!

  30. SmallP June 24, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I have just discovered your blog and all I can say is wow! Your photos are absolutely stunning 🙂 Might I be cheeky and ask what camera you use?

    Clovelly looks absolutely dreamy. It must be wonderful to live somewhere that is so pretty, although I wouldn’t fancy getting the weekly shop down those cobbled slopes!

    • Jessica June 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you SmallP and welcome to rusty duck!
      We use a Nikon D80 DSLR. I’d agree about the cobbled slope. We live on a hill here, with 84 steps to get between the house and the garage, post box etc etc and that is bad enough.

  31. Cordelia June 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    wow. Those English gardens blow my mind. Just can not have that green, lush look here. Not in Summer at least. Also the color of the harbor water… I’d like to dive in!

    • Jessica June 25, 2014 at 12:15 am - Reply

      Some people did dive in… Not for me though, it may look tropical but it’s blinking cold!

  32. Linda June 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Clovelly looks as picturesque as I remember it when we used to spend holidays in Devon as a child although the thing that most sticks in my memory is the pretty harbour and the walk up the street with the donkey! I’m fascinated by plants that grow in the crevice of rocks so was interested to see the maidenhair spleenwort. I think it would do well on our stone wall at the front of our house as I’ve seen it on other drystone walls round here and photographed it.- such a lovely green and now I know the name of it!

    • Jessica June 25, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply

      I’ve only recently started experimenting with plants in walls.. one sempervivum so far! But I can see it becoming an interest, how do they manage with so little water I wonder.

  33. Linda June 25, 2014 at 12:38 am - Reply

    I was expecting to see Doc Martin come up the path!
    So beautiful….how lucky are you to visit!
    Linda :o)

  34. June 25, 2014 at 5:43 am - Reply

    Your photo series is absolutely amazing, enjoyable, and wonderfully done. What an amazing day.

    • Jessica June 25, 2014 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Thanks Charlie. We are spoilt for choice with seaside villages around here, although Clovelly is one of my favourites.

  35. Dorothy June 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Oh, what a picture perfect village! Thanks for sharing your photos. Interestingly, Erigeron karvinskianus is very common here in California where it is commonly known as Santa Barbara Daisy and has naturalized to the extent that it is often referred to as a native plant. We love it because it attracts beneficial insects, has a long bloom time, is drought tolerant, and in addition the flowers add a cottage look to the garden. I didn’t know it was such a well traveled plant! So many lovely areas to visit in your beautiful country!

    • Jessica June 26, 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply

      If it’s tough enough to survive in a dry stone wall I can see it doing well in California. I don’t know why I haven’t planted it before.

  36. Vintage Jane July 1, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    We have a photo of my little man and two little pals sitting on a wall at the bottom of the hill with ice cream all round their mouths and dripping down their t-shirts … much needed sustenance in readiness for the climb back up! I love it there, such a pretty place.

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

      It is a lovely place and ice cream at the bottom of the hill just has to be done!

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