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Visit Clovelly, North Devon, UK

The rowing boats in the harbour of Clovelly
Titty McGee the rowing boat in Clovelly, UK

Is Clovelly Worth the Visit?

I my opinion to visit Clovelly is definitely worth it, especially if you love quaint historical places that feel like a living museum. That is probably one of the best ways to describe Clovelly. Only in this case, it is very much a living breathing museum that is as alive today as it was hundreds of years ago.

The historic cobblestoned street of Clovelly

How Long Does it Take to Visit Clovelly?

I would allocate and entire day to visit Clovelly, especially if you are travelling with children. Depending on where you are coming from, first you will have to drive there , unless you decide to stay in one of the hotels that are situated directly in Clovelly itself or some of those that surround the village. For more on that see Can you stay in Clovelly below.

Understandably, as the terrain is very steep you need to be prepared to walk both down and up again as well which usually takes a bit longer when you have tired children in toe. I usually leave a bag of jelly-beans in the car and use this is a motivator when the kids claim that they simply cannot walk another step. They always get second wind that way!

For the baby I carried him on my back in his carrier as usual because the slope and the cobble stone paving would have been far to perilous for him but the older boys (6 and 7 years) managed very well. I just waited until we had reached the harbour and then took the toddler out of the carrier and let him have a run around and a snack with the older two.

The spectacular view from our visit to Clovelly

Do People Really Live in Clovelly?

They sure do. In actual fact, other than the hotels that are there, the only other dwellings are residential homes. However, the choice to live in Clovelly isn’t for the faint hearted. One important thing to remember is that there are no cars whatsoever in the village which means that everything that comes in or goes out needs to be carried there.

This is probably with the exception of the Red Lion Hotel as there is vehicular access to the back of this building meaning that guests of that hotel are able to drive down the lane and park. But for everyone else, it is a case of carrying things up and down the steep pathway themselves or using a traditional donkey and sled for bigger items. Imagine if you needed a new fridge!

If you can try to stay in the Red Lion Hotel when you visit Clovelly

Can you stay in Clovelly?

Happily yes! We didn’t stay when we visited as we just went down for the day but now after seeing the village first hand I am definitely going to go back for a kid-free staycation at the Red Lion Hotel.

The Red Lion Hotel is a four-star inn that dates back to the 18th century and is located on the quay next to the historic harbour in Clovelly, North Devon. Its 17 tastefully furnished rooms all have a sea view. 

After a stroll around the village, you can settle into your stay by having an aperitivo while mingling with the locals at the Snug Bar and listening to their stories. Then move onto a decadent dining experience at The Harbour Restaurant. The menu there serves seasonal fresh fish from the bay, including herring, sea bass, lobster, crab, and sea scallops. In addition to fresh foods from Clovelly Court Gardens, the estate’s game, and nearby meat

The following morning, you will wake up to the sounds of the sea and the sights and sounds of Clovelly’s historic fishing harbour. It is a unique and unforgettable experience. 

I have often thought that it is actually the perfect setting for an Agatha Christie style Death in Paradise murder mystery. Maybe I’ll write it. Watch this space. 

The other accommodation option in Clovelly is to stay at the The New Inn. This This 3-star hotel in the centre of Clovelly offers lodging with a terrace, garden, shared lounge, and free private parking as well as a restaurant and a bar.

How much do you have to pay to visit Clovelly?

If you decide to stay at The Red Lion in Clovelly then the price of admission is included. I am not sure if this is also the case with the New Inn but I assume it would be as parking is also included at that hotel which would mean that you circumvent the admissions section at the top of the hill.

For anyone else who is not planning on staying the hotels, current entry prices can be found on the tickets page here of the Clovelly Village website. However, when we attended we purchased a family ticket was £23.60 and I think that included parking in the carpark as well.

The tide out in the harbour during when we visited Clovelly

Can you visit Clovelly without paying?

You definitely can. Despite being on private property, the village is also situated along a public footpath and as you walk down to the harbour from the car park and admissions area at the top of the hill you will see where the two paths intersect.

After reflection, however, I actually came to the conclusion that I was happy to pay to visit the village because I know that a lot of the proceeds of entry are invested back into preserving the village and encouraging visitors to come and attend social and cultural events that they hold throughout the year. This includes things like the annual Cider festival or rowing and yacht races. For more on what events might cooiccide will with your visit check the events page of the village website.

So the short answer it yes, you certainly can, and if I were hiking the coastal path (which extends all the way from Westward Ho! to Bude in Cornwall, then I wouldn’t bother to pay as I would simply be passing through. However if I had made a purposeful trip to visit the village then I would be happy to pay to see it again as it is such a unique experience it is certainly wort the price.

When is the best time of year to visit Clovelly?

As you can see in the accompanying photos there are very few other people around which was actually an amazing way to experience visiting Clovelly. I didn’t really give this point much thought before we went down to visit, however, after seeing some other pictures of the harbour in mid-summer it is jam-packed! Taking that into consideration, I think you need to make the decision of what is the most important thing to your experience.

For us, we went to visit the village and experience the historical and nostalgic elements of the village, not to sunbake or swim in the harbour. So, our visit was in autumn after school holidays were over in September or October. This meant that the weather was pretty good and not cold but it was very easy to get around the village and we really did feel like we saw it as a local might do.

It is a tough one but if you are down to visit the area for a summer holiday then I would recommend going anyway as it is such as lovely place to see, however, if you live a little more locally and you can pick what dates you want to visit with a little more flexibility then I would recommend not coming during the peak season as I think it will take away from the experience.

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I foundered Donc Voilà Quoi while living in Tours, France in 2015 when I fell in love with the phrase! I have a longstanding love of language and words are my superpower. When I'm not talking or writing, you'll find me out and about in nature, watching a classic whodunit or cooking up a storm. For press enquiries, please email me on

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