Driving, or being driven, down the M5 at 4 o’clock in the morning to cut out traffic was exactly how I expected to start my August bank holiday weekend. I was en route to Ilfracombe in North Devon to visit family, see the cliff ridden coastline and enjoy a well deserved staycation.
If anyone knows me, they’ll know that long car journeys send me to sleep, and this one was no different. I even brought a fluffy cushion as a head rest. Granted, I wasn’t great company, but I was fully rested by the time we arrived in West Country and ready to explore.
The first thing we did was walk to the pier and buy some fish and chips. Nothing compares to a Yorkshire chippy, but I saw haddock on the menu and thought it might do the trick. I really tried to give it a chance, but seeing skin on fish just doesn’t sit right. We had a lovely view of a bare bottom as we ate as it was impossible not to spot Damien Hirst’s sculpture, Verity. It was definitely a talking point as people either love her, or hate her. I wouldn’t have thought the modern artwork actually guides ships into the harbour though!
Crabbing was out of the question because of the high tide, so we opted for the second best thing, drinks in the closest beer garden. The ‘poop deck’ of The Pier Brewery Tap & Grill had panoramic views out to sea, but definitely sealed my fate as I had an encounter with a seagull a couple of days later. Everyone says it’s meant to be good luck, but I found it a little hard to agree in the heat of the moment.
The next day, we undertook the short drive to Woolacombe. The three mile stretch of golden sands was voted ‘Best Beach in the UK‘ by Trip Advisor readers two years running, and it’s easy to see why. Even though it’s a buzzing tourist hotspot, there was still plenty of space to sun bathe and build sandcastles for the sake of nostalgia. I had a little paddle in sea, but wasn’t brave enough to get fully submerged even though the weather was reasonably warm.
Tunnels Beaches back in Ilfracombe was a stark contrast as the beach was more rocky than soft, and there were rock pools. The view was so picturesque from the overlooking cliff, but it was even better once you got down to the tidal bathing pools. The 1820s Victorian gem was the perfect spot to flip some stones and find a few crabs, Andrew’s niece even found a small prawn!
Ilfracombe Beer festival and Carnival were going on simultaneously on our last full day, so we sat on the grass verges on the side of the road with a drink in hand as the floats passed by. There were dragons, RNLI, bagpipe players and even some folk from the North Pole (maybe that counteracts my poo luck?). The North Devon seaside resort was so charmingly lively all evening, with people lining the streets until the sun went down.
We were super lucky with the weather, and for the most part, it actually felt like we had travelled abroad for the weekend. I imagine it may have been a different experience without the sun, but it’s a great destination to visit any time of year, especially if there’s an event on.
We skipped out on it before the end to get some grub at Giovanni’s & Luca’s, a lovely and authentic Italian restaurant. The staff were great, constantly joking about my partner’s love for garlic and the food was even better. It beat the traditional seaside fish and chips hands down and rounded off our staycation.
Have you visited North Devon and any of the attractions I mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!