Ilfracombe - Well worth a re-visit!By Jayne McCracken -
It had been 35 years since my husband and I last visited the north Devon coastal town of Ilfracombe and we are now wondering why we left it so long!
This small Victorian seaside town oozes charm and character with many attractions to keep families, couples and singletons entertained whatever the weather.
Ilfracombe is situated in a deep valley and surrounded by hills which includes the infamous Porlock Hill - the UK’s steepest A road. To say the least, all but the hardiest of hikers wouldn't attempt to walk up or down this hill - it really is so steep, as are many of the approach roads into Ilfracombe. Surprisingly, once we arrived, the immediate town and harbor areas were relatively flat and accessible, with lots of places to take a seat and appreciate the beautiful sea views.
As well as a wide variety of cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets, including a newly opened Wetherspoons bar/restaurant. In the pretty harbor area, there is an abundance of ice cream outlets which offer an incredible range of great quality, delicious flavoured ice creams ( my personal favourite was the salted caramel flavour- highly recommended). This is a must when you are in a quintessentially English seaside resort on a lovely sunny day!
The town has an active and established theatre called the Land Mark Theatre which replaced the original Victoria Pavilion built in 1888. The Land Mark Theatre was built in the mid 1990s and is a curious new build that appears to have become quite a talking point. It resembles two large stunted bottle kilns which are, in my opinion, very attractive in an urban sense but clashes with the traditional Victorian architecture of many of the surrounding buildings. The theatre provides 2 specific wheelchair spaces and also has an infra-red hearing assist system. In addition, it has an accessible, busy cafe with views of the gardens surrounding the building, the sea and the town.
Ilfracombe's hand cut Tunnel Beaches are well worth a visit. We went on a lovely sunny day and spent an afternoon exploring the sea bathing coves which originally segregated Victorian male and female bathers! Tunnels lead to each of the bathing areas which are dimly lit and slope, so care needs to be taken when walking through them. Access to the gents’ bathing area is via some very steep steps which lead onto a pretty sheltered beach. My husband has a knee problem and needed to take care walking up and down the steps to this particular beach. The ladies beach is accessed through a further sloping, dimly lit tunnel and a rocky path onto the beach. Once on the beach, it was sheltered, warm and naturally beautiful. Interestingly, the Tunnels Beaches attraction is also a wedding venue!
On the whole, Ilfracombe is a lovely place to spend time relaxing and winding down, offering a truly traditional English seaside holiday.