Clovelly is exceptionally pretty and architecturally unspoilt. Cars are not allowed to enter the village and in fact, they would find it almost impossible to navigate the single cobbled street, which plunges zig-zag fashion, to the harbour half a mile below. This showplace fishing village has been described as, ‘a village like a waterfall’. The main street is known as, ‘up-a-long’ and ‘down-a-long’. Transport is on foot or by donkey, on payment of a small fee. It is fascinating to see deliveries of bread, milk and groceries being made by a man towing a wooden sledge.
Charles Kingsley, the nineteenth century novelist, author of ‘Westward Ho!’ and ‘The Water Babies’, lived in Clovelly as a child. His father was rector here for four years. Until Charles Dickens and Charles Kingsley publicised the beauty of Clovelly, Victorian visitors were few in number.
Visitors flock to Clovelly at all times of the year, but especially in Summer when the different coloured cottages are covered in flowers. Although facing North, the roses and fuchsias bloom as early as those on the South Devon coast.
At the bottom of the village is the Red Lion Hotel, overlooking the sheltered harbour and curved quay. Guests are able to have their luggage delivered by special vehicles, using a private road.
The Hamlyn family purchased the village and the estate in 1738 and ownership still remains with the family. We have them to thank for preserving Clovelly so that visitors today may enjoy its beauty. In the 1850s, life here was much harsher. Charles Kingsley writes in his poem, ‘The Three Fishers’, about three wives waiting for their husbands who will not return –
‘But men must work and women must weep
Tho’ storms be sudden and waters deep
And the harbour bar be moaning’