Clovelly, North Devon: Hillside Views Fit for a Queen

Clovelly's steeply cobbled street
Clovelly from Buck's Mills.
Clovelly, North Devon, England

Nestled in the Torridge district of Devon, England, lies one of the most picturesque communities in all of the United Kingdom. Clovelly┬áis a tiny fishing village built into the side of a 400-foot cliff. With soaring views of the Bristol Channel and quaint cobblestone streets, it draws visitors from all over the world – despite its small population of just under 450 residents.

The village was once purchased by William the Conqueror, King of England, as a gift for his queen. From the Elizabethan era forward, Clovelly has remained under private ownership. It is managed today by the Clovelly Estate Company, with oversight from John Rous, a descendant of the Hamlyn family that has owned the village since 1738.

Clovelly Village does not permit any motor traffic, thanks to its steep landscape. Instead, donkeys and sleds move cargo up and down the hills, adding to the preservation of Clovelly’s old-world charm.

Clovelly donkeys
Clovelly donkeys

The narrow street (known as ”Up-a-long” and ”Down-a-long,” depending on the direction traveled) is built from cobbled stones gathered from Clovelly’s beach.

Clovelly's steeply cobbled street
Clovelly’s steeply cobbled street

Artists of all genres, including notable painters like William Turner and Rex Whistler, flocked to Clovelly to capture its rich, contrasting colors of quaint buildings against the blue water. It has also been the focus of several literary works, including “A Message from the Sea” by Charles Dickens.

Lower part of Clovelly Village
Lower part of Clovelly Village

Clovelly’s two hotels are the 400-year-old New Inn and The Red Lion. Both offer delicious local cuisine and afternoon tea. Restaurants, like local favorite The Quay Shop, offer lunch with a captivating view of ships moving in and out of the harbor. With two local history museums and local tour guides, Clovelly is the perfect destination to step into the traditions and history of old England.