North Devon Cottages in Clovelly

North Devon cottages to rent or buy in Clovelly are pretty much impossible to find. There are currently no self catering cottages in Clovelly, although you can find limited hotel and B&B accommodation in the village.

Clovelly is a very special coastal village that’s been preserved by the efforts of one family and well worth a visit.

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North Devon Cottages - Clovelly cc Kit Logan

“Suddenly a hot gleam of sunlight fell upon the white cottages, with their grey steaming roofs and little scraps of garden courtyard, and lighting up the wings of the gorgeous butterflies which fluttered from the woodland down to the garden.” Charles Kingsley

Charles Kingsley, who wrote The Water Babies, wrote this about Clovely over 150 years ago and it has hardly changed. Kingsley spent much of his childhood in the village and retained considerable affection for the place.

The village straggles down to the harbour in a hotch potch mix of white, slate-roofed cottages. The cottages cling to each side of the steep cleft. A series of terraces lead off from the steep main street to a tiny fishing port. Once a busy centre for the herring trade Clovelly is now mostly a tourist attraction.

Clovelly is a totally traffic free village. Cars must be parked at the top of the hill and the main street is steeply sloping with quite slippery cobbles. There’s a Land Rover ‘bus’ service for much of the year to take you back up the hill, if you can’t face the steep climb. The only other transport allowed are sledges and donkeys.

The village sits in a fold in the cliffs and has done since the Iron Age! The Saxons gave it the name “Cleave Leigh,” which means “cleft in the cliff”.

The village forms part of a private estate and in the past 800 years has only been owned by 3 families. It is this private ownership that keeps the village preserved as it is and prevents any development.

There’s a small charge to visit the village. This covers parking and also includes an audio visual visitor centre which gives an overview of the village and its history.

The village has shops and tea rooms, The Charles Kingsley Museum, a cottage museum shows the life of a typical fishing family in the 19th century. There’s also Clovelly Court, the manor house.

The famous Red Lion Hotel serves food and has rooms. It is looks out over the 14th century harbour.

Go  east from Clovelly and you will find the delightful seaside hamlet of Bucks Mills and there you can find classic North Devon cottages which are available for holiday lets.

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