"Much Improved Since My Early Visits" Top 5 Page for this destination Ilfracombe by johngayton

Ilfracombe Travel Guide: 76 reviews and 220 photos

When I first visited Ilfracombe in the late 90's I wasn't impressed with the place. Everything was run-down, the hotels were shabby and uninviting, the pubs were dingy and not particularly friendly and the harbour and beach areas were litter-strewn. The town seemed more of a cheap tacky resort where the only thing to do was visit its garishly lit and noisy amusement arcades and feed the slot machines.

This visit however (June 2009) has impressed me. It's like a different town. Everywhere has had a lick of paint, there's no litter, the pubs are friendly and inviting, the hotels, guest houses and other accomodations have taken a step upmarket and even the amusement arcades, although still there, seem to have toned themselves down.

Arriving by bus I found the bus station still a bit shabby and lacking in facilities, but shabby in a greyish utilitarian manner rather than dirty or unkempt.

UPDATE 2014 - The bus station is now a car park and the buses now run a circular route through the town centre.

The minute or so's walk to the harbour however served to counter the initial impression given by the bus station. This has been seriously cleaned up and whilst still very much a working harbour is now an major attraction - this is the place to sit and have your fish and chips and enjoy the slow-paced North Devon biziness. That's the attraction: everything that needs doing gets done, but at its own pace, not rushed.

The town too is a delight. Not only have most of its buildings been smartened up but also the streets are a riot of colour with floral displays everywhere and beautifully tended parks and gardens.

Being a "Combe" the town nestles in its valley and the hills on both sides are well worth the walk to appreciate not just the land and sea 'scapes but also the neatness and relative lack of development of the urban area as well.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Been Seriously Tidied Up In Recent Years
  • Cons:Still A Little Scruffy In Places
  • In a nutshell:Defintely A Destination On The UP!
  • Last visit to Ilfracombe: Oct 2015
  • Intro Updated Oct 17, 2015
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Reviews (41)

Comments (4)

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    Nice pix and write up John. Your dolphin photos are truly Awesome!.... ;o)

    • johngayton's Profile Photo
      Oct 18, 2015 at 1:40 AM

      Thanks for the visit Ann - looking forward, with a touch of trepidation, to this afternoon's rugby.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    The north Devon coast seems to be really beautiful. Two months ago I thought I would go there around Easter, to hike along the south west coast path and in Exmoor. Unfortunately I had to abandon that plan. Hopefully another year though!

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    You are right, the dolphins are awesome. I KNEW I heard you say that word before... in fact maybe also in Yellowstone? And maybe when we finally found that bar that celebrated smoking in Wisdom.

  • Jul 8, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    The Al Fresco View's just like in the postcard. The rest of tips include some great shots too!Cheers, Marina

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