While in Devon, I pestered my parents to drive us somewhere new – funny, as a kid it was always me doing the grumbling about car rides – and I picked Clovelly somewhat randomly from a guidebook. It’s about an hour’s drive from Lee on Devon’s north-west coast, past Appledore and Westward Ho! (Doesn’t this part of the world have the best place names?) My mum knew it vaguely as being where the famous Hovis advert was filmed but otherwise we were surprised to turn up and find that it’s an entirely private village, with a £6.50 fee payable to enter. Nearly every building in the village is listed so the fee mostly goes towards maintenance using traditional craftsmanship, upkeeping the tourist facilities and entry to a couple of the small museums.
Stepping inside past the customary gift shop, we were greeted with a stunning view over the rooftops to the sea and harbour below, and a cobbled walkway winding down through the village. There are no cars in most of the village (just for guests of the single hotel) and most deliveries are made up and down the cobbles by sledge.
It’s amazingly pretty, full of whitewashed cottages with picture gardens, a quaint pub, gift shops, ice cream and sweet shops and the sea sparkling beyond.
Even better – Clovelly is full of cats! I suppose it’s kitty paradise with fresh fish on tap and no car traffic. We spied 7 or so lounging on the low walls or catching some shade on windowsills, all happy for a stroke.
The harbour at the bottom is still a working fishing port. Plenty of boats were coming and going and kids were jumping off the jetty into the turquoise water.
On the walk back up we noseyed into the Charles Kingsley museum, a cottage done out how it would have been at the time he was writing The Water Babies.
At the very top there’s a little courtyard of shops including two beautiful craft studios: Ann Jarvis’s silk studio and Clovelly Pottery, housing the work of potter Clive Pearson. I bought a vase for my collection and was very tempted by the beautiful silks, bearing unique patterns based on artists’ sketches of the village, too.
I’d definitely recommend a trip to Clovelly if you’re in the area – it’s a lovely, unique place to spend an afternoon. Find out more on their cute website.