We recently spent two nights in an Airbnb in Devon to visit Woolacombe at my husband’s request for his birthday. Being a late booking, I couldn’t find accommodation left in Woolacombe, so we stayed in nearby Ilfracombe instead. With just two days to our visit in north Devon, we spent the first day at Woolacombe and the second whole day at Ilfracombe. Read on to see what we thought of Ilfracombe and our family travel photos.
Which is better? Woolacombe or Ilfracombe?
We honestly enjoyed both our days and both places have different things to offer. If you have the time on your trip to north Devon, then I recommend visiting both, just like we did.
Woolacombe is much better for a beach day. They have a long sandy beach approximately 2-3 miles long with sand dunes, rocks, surfing/bodyboarding waves, lifeguard cover and a large carpark right next to the beach.
However, for some on foot exploring and different sights, then we loved Ilfracombe for the day. From rocky coves with black sand to sculptures, hill walks, crazy golf and amazing scenic views and more… read on to see what we got up to in Ilfracombe for the day.
Our family day out in Ilfracombe, north Devon
We were able to walk to the centre of Ilfracombe from our holiday accommodation, walking directly down to the harbour as our first stop. Here we could admire the boats whilst eating a pasty for breakfast(!) from The Pasty Bakehouse.
We saw a sign saying something like ‘best pasties in Devon 200 yards this way —>’ and we thought we’d see if they were! Not that we have a lot of experience eating pasties in Devon, but they had two vegan pasties on offer and they were both amazing! They had a vegan cheese and onion pasty and we loved it so much, we went back later on in the day to get another, but not surprisingly they had sold out.
As we entered Ilfracombe on foot we were greeted by this picturesque harbour.
We were also amazed to see this impressive and humungous statue in the distance. This is the Verity Statue by artist Damien Hirst.
Reuben wanted to bring his favourite teddy, Marshall, and I said no as he’d have to carry it all day and likely we’d end up carrying it… so the clever clogs said “no I can put him in here and no-one has to carry him”!
The tide was out so we could walk around the boats at Ilfracombe Harbour for a close up look.
A lovely photo of Bella finishing off her breakfast pasty. This is the view out to sea behind Ilfracombe Harbour with beautiful dramatic cliffs and bays only accessible by water.
We were really impressed by the statue of Verity, mainly by its size! It must look quite incredible as you come in to the harbour by sea. It’s like something out of a film.
As you walk around Ilfracombe you get to see Verity from different perspectives. One side of Verity is complete and the other is a cross section showing beneath the skin.
Here’s what Wikipedia say:
“Verity is a 2012 stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst. The 20.25-metre (66.4 ft) tall sculpture stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour in Ilfracombe, Devon, looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales. It has been loaned to the town for 20 years. The name of the piece refers to “truth” and Hirst describes his work as a “modern allegory of truth and justice”.
The statue depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books.”
Hopefully these photos show you the true scale and size of Verity. It’s a powerful statue and we loved to see Verity from different perspectives as we walked around Ilfracombe. Here you can also see some of the coves in Ilfracombe in the cliffs behind, as well as the land train which does a quick tour through the town.
One of the conductors was trying to get us on the land train, but I thought it was quite expensive. I can’t remember exactly, but around £15 for a family of four and it’s only a short ride. The kids would have enjoyed it, but maybe a couple of pounds each would have been a more reasonable price and tempted us.
St Nicholas Chapel
Near to Verity is a small walk up a hill to St Nicholas Chapel. It’s free to enter and the views on the way up of Ilfracombe are worth seeing. Ben went up to the chapel and inside, but the kids weren’t up for walking up the hill so I stayed with them to look at the views across the sea and managed to get them halfway up to the chapel where we waited for Ben.
Here I am trying to coax Reuben up the hill to the chapel! He’s having none of it!
Great views half way up to St Nicholas Chapel.
Capstone Hill and Ekaterine statue
We next walked up Capstone Hill which offers beautiful views again out to see, of Ilfracombe town and a small rocky beach below with what looked like black sand.
Upon this hill with views looking over to Hillsborough cliffs and nature reserve is a picturesque statue called Ekaterine, with a tragic story. The statue is beautiful and in memorial of a young girl who fell to her death from the cliffs behind.
The kids stop to look at their souvenirs!
“Ekaterine (Kate) Frolov
Born Moscow, 23rd December 1986
A beautiful girl, full of life and energy, who
tragically fell to her death from Hillborough,
19th July 2000
This statue was commissioned by her family
and dedicated to her memory.”
23:12:1986 – 19:07:2000
‘You are always with us'” – Devon Guide
Views of Ilfracombe from Capstone Hill with what looked like a black sand beach and the iconic Landmark Theatre building:
“The Landmark Theatre is a theatre in the North Devon coastal town of Ilfracombe. Of unusual double conical design, it is locally referred to as Madonna’s Bra, a reference to its shape and that of an iconic bra worn by the singer Madonna”. Wikipedia
The view from Capstone Hill looking towards the harbour and Hillsborough.
Reuben is very proud of his new treasure chest with real treasure inside!
Lots to do in Ilfracombe
From the top of Capstone Hill we could see a lot going on in Ilfracombe town so we went there next. First, there was a classic car show where Reuben loved the Lamborghini. Then we went to the bouncy castles where Reuben had a jump around, until he got a sort of carpet burn on one of the slides so came running out and didn’t want to go back in!
Finally, the kids had a round of crazy golf here.
Our final steps in Ilfracombe, north Devon
We were going to have a drink in a cafe or bar, but they were really busy! We’d seen a lovely thatched cottage style pub near our accommodation, so headed back. We enjoyed a walk back through the harbour to The Thatched Inn where we had some drinks in sunshine before going back to our holiday apartment and heading home the next morning.
Me walking up the slipway in Ilfracombe Harbour.