10 interesting facts about Ilfracombe

One tourist hotspot nearby to our North Devon beach accommodation is the lively harbour town of Ilfracombe, packed with things to see and do and areas of natural and manmade beauty to marvel at. Before you visit, here are ten interesting facts about Ilfracombe which will help you further enjoy your stay: 1) It has existed since the Iron Age, when the Dumnonii tribe of Celts built a fortified settlement on what is today the local landmark Hillsborough Hill. 2) It is just 35 miles across the Bristol Channel from Welsh city Swansea. This has made it popular for many channel-crossing challenges such as a recent kitesurfing challenge. The first person to swim the entire distance from Ilfracombe to Swansea was TV presenter Gethin Jones, who swam it in 2009 in around 22 hours. 3) It is home to a Damien Hirst sculpture, Verity, which visitors can see on Ilfracombe pier. Despite its controversy, it has creating a talking point for residents and visitors alike and stands to guide ships into the harbour. 4) Ilfracombe has had its own devastating fire, dubbed ‘The Great Fire of Ilfracombe’. The fire took place on 28 July 1896 and started at 12.40am in the basement of an ironmongers, with the flames not being completely extinguished until the following morning. In total over 35 houses and businesses were destroyed. Today the fire is remembered today in the town’s museum. 5) It is close to several of North Devon’s top beaches, including Croyde, Woolacombe and Saunton Sands. 6) It is the third largest town in North Devon, after Barnstaple and Bideford, with a population of over 10,000. Small by national standards, this number does increase at summer time, when the area becomes popular with tourists. 7) St Nicholas’ Chapel on Lantern Hill is reputed to be the UK’s oldest working lighthouse. Built in 1361, the building has stood as a beacon for over 650 years. 8) It was the home of two of the passengers of the Titanic. Alice Phillips and her father Escott departed for the fateful journey from Southampton in 1912; while Alice survived the tragedy, being rescued on boat 12, her father was lost at sea. 9) The South West Coastal Path passes through Ilfracombe, and allows walkers to follow the entire South West coastline. Starting from Minehead in Somerset, it continues through North Devon and Cornwall to Land’s End, where it then follows the south coast until it reaches Dorset. In Ilfracombe, the path passes through the town from Hele Bay to Lee Bay, passing through the harbour. 10) It was home to author Henry Williamson, author of popular novel Tarka the Otter, after which the Tarka Trail is named. He lived between 1895 and 1977, and resided in a small cottage in Ilfracombe.

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Our Luxury Holiday Cottages


Honey Pot Cottage
Honey Pot Cottage

Honey Pot is a beautiful, compact cottage ideal for couples with a small child. Honey Pot is dog-friendly and fully equipped for a comfortable break in North Devon.

  • Sleeps: 3. Rooms: 4
  • Dog Friendly:
Primrose Lane  Cottage
Primrose Lane Cottage

Primrose Lane cottage is a dog-friendly, compact cottage which has just been fully-refurbished to a high standard. Boasting a double bedroom, Primrose Lane cottage can sleep up to 3 with a put-up bed suitable for children.

  • Sleeps: 3. Rooms: 4
  • Dog Friendly:
Buttercup Cottage
Buttercup Cottage

Buttercup Cottage is an ideal cottage for families, especially those with fury members as its dog-friendly. Located in the courtyard, Buttercup cottage can sleep 4

  • Sleeps: 4. Rooms: 4
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Honeysuckle Cottage
Honeysuckle Cottage

Located in the courtyard, Honeysuckle Cottage is dog-friendly and ideal for families of up to 4.

  • Sleeps: 4. Rooms: 4
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Sea View  Cottage
Sea View Cottage

Sea View cottage is a superb, dog-friendly holiday cottage with stunning view across the North Devon coast. Ideal for families of 5, Sea View has been fully refurbished to a high standard. The bedrooms have the amazing view across the Sterridge valley and the Bristol Channel to Wales

  • Sleeps: 5. Rooms: 4
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Sunalways Cottage
Sunalways Cottage

Sunalways Cottage is a spacious, family-friendly cottage sleeping 5 with beautiful views of the Sterridge valley. The vaulted ceilings give a large bright spacious living area

  • Sleeps: 5. Rooms: 4
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Fisherswood  Cottage
Fisherswood Cottage

Fisherswood Cottage is a large and spacious cottage with beautiful vaulted ceilings. Sleeping up to 5 guests, Fisherswood Cottage has recently been refurbished to a high standard throughout.

  • Sleeps: 5. Rooms: 4
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Forest View  Cottage
Forest View Cottage

Forest View Cottage is a large, spacious cottage ideal for large families. This cottage is dog-friendly and can sleep up to 6 guests.

  • Sleeps: 6. Rooms: 4
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Meadow Sweet Cottage
Meadow Sweet Cottage

Meadow Sweet is dog friendly and the largest cottage at Smythen Farm. Book this cottage early as its well sort-after for large families or 2 families sharing. Meadow Sweet boasts stunning views across the Sterridge Valley.

  • Sleeps: 10. Rooms: 4
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