Ilfracombe wears it’s Victorian influence so well…

Similar day to yesterday, mostly sunny and dry but with some heavy showers and quite a chilly wind. I didn’t fancy going far, so we ventured into Ilfracombe and what a lovely Victorian town it is. Now I had previously written the town off, judged on the main High St, as being a bit run down, but as we explored the seafront and harbour, I believe that to have been unfair.

The sea is largely separated from the town by a series of hills and gardens running down the slopes to the town. These hills provide excellent views both out to sea and of the town.

Firstly we went to gave a look at the Tunnels beaches, unfortunately though they are closed until Easter, however we had a sneaky look from up above.

These were opened in Victorian times, with access created through the hillside, by tunnel to two beaches and sea pools, one for the ladies and one for the gentleman! How fab? Access is now £2.50 for an adult for the day.

Further along the front is the main beach, not massive but very attractive, Poppydog loved it, charging in, out, over and around!

The sand or really very fine shingle is grey, reflecting its main component being slate. We also found a nice little selection of sea glass on this beach,

The twin domes of the Theatre offer an interesting dimension to the background, seen as we start to climb Capstone Hill.

Up on the top of Capstone Hill, passing Windy Corner (and it was!) on the way up, is a beautiful statue in memory of a young Russian girl ‘Kate’ who sadly lost her footing and life on nearby Hillsborough Hill in 2000.

From here we wandered down the other side of the hill, to get our first glimpse of the oldest working ‘lighthouse’ in the UK, the Lantern.

The little chapel of St Nicholas (patron saint of sailors) dates back to 1321 and through the chapels varied history (as a church, family home and periods of near dereliction) it has always shone a light to guide boats into Ilfracombe’s harbour.

This is a very pretty part of town, with little boutiques, cafes, galleries and pubs looking out on to the sandy inner harbour and the old lifeboat station (now an Aquarium) in one corner and the new one in the opposite one!

And there just beyond the inner harbour is ‘Verity’ – I have seen signs all over the place to Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’, with no idea (forgive my ignorance!) to what they referred to – well now I do!

I fine figure of a woman she may be, dare I say it though, I think the statue on Capstone is more beautiful, meaningful yet somehow carefree?

From the harbour we went up to take a closer look at St Nicholas’ church which unfortunately for us is currently closed for refurbishment.

Oh yes and look it is raining in Wales,

Two thoughts of the day:

Don’t judge a town on first appearances!

We have had a really good day, learnt a lot and have a lot of respect for the Victorians – they gave us ‘holidays’ after all!

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