Ages and ages ago, Mae invited me to join her for a night in Ilfracombe that her parents had won in some way or another. We picked the last weekend in May and made excited plans to get surfing lessons and transform ourselves into bronzed surfer goddesses in the space of two days.
Sadly for us, we arrived in Ilfracombe to grey skies and and unrelenting drizzle. Surfing plans abandoned, we donned our raincoats (or at least Mae did…I braved it with a less practical hoodie & leather jacket combo) and headed out to do some sightseeing – after a little stop to the hilariously quaint St James Tearoom, where we ate sandwiches and drank tea in what was essentially somebody’s living room. First up on our sightseeing tour of the town was Verity, the Damien Hirst statue that watches over the harbour.
From there we climbed up a deceivingly steep hill to the St Nicholas Chapel. On a clear day the views are probably stunning, but I think they were equally atmospheric with all that Dickens-by-the-sea fog over the hills.
Next up, we decided to walk along the South West Coastal Path in the direction of the Tunnels Beaches, which Mae was keen to check out. Despite the rain, this was a great way to check out the coastal sights of Ilfracombe and we took great delight in reading the signs at the various stopping point – I definitely learnt a lot about coastal wildlife!
This is apparently the “famous Ilfracombe elephant.” Can you see him? It took us a while…
We ducked into another tearoom for a quick drink and a cake and ended up staying there for a good couple of hours watching the world go by. I forget its name, but that’s okay because although my vanilla chai latte was perfectly nice, my little chocolate cake was distinctly on the dry side and I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it. Then we took a leisurely drive through terrifying country roads to Croyde and by the time we got back, it was time for dinner. Lucky for us, the sun chose that moment to make a welcome appearance. Suddenly the town looked completely different!
It took a lot of deliberation, but in the end we went to the very first place we’d found for dinner: The Terrace tapas & wine bar (a phrase that always appeals). I have to say, this was a fab choice and I’d definitely recommend it. The tapas was reasonably priced and the sangria was too, and the service was quick and friendly. The owner was there, milling around in his shirt and chatting, and they were quite happy to let us sit there for a good few hours.
Two jugs of sangria later, it was time to head back to our hostel (Ocean Backpackers – we had a double en suite room and seeing as it was free, anything was good enough for us). We had planned to maybe do some more sights/actually go to the Tunnel Beaches if it was sunnier the next day, but unfortunately it was just as grey and miserable. After a welcome breakfast at a cafe near the hotel (sausages on toast…yum), we made a quick stop to the chocolate shop for presents for ourselves and for Rory, and then headed home.
I’ve been wanting to visit Ilfracombe, and pretty much everywhere else in Devon, ever since I came to Exe in first year, so it was fab to get away for a day or so and do some exploring – bit of a shame about the weather (story of my life, am I right?!) but I had a lovely time anyway! If you’re a Devon local – where should I visit next?!