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Top dog walks around Ilfracombe

Hillsborough to Rapparee beach

One of the best walks that starts out from Ilfracombe is the Hele to Berrynarbour trek that traces along the South West Coast Path. Originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south west peninsula looking out for smugglers, the coast path is a place of tremendous beauty, loved for its ruggedness and its sheer breath-taking views. The walk to Berrynarbour is a five-mile round trip that begins in a free car park at the top of Hele as you come out of Ilfracombe. The path takes you daringly close to the sea and, if you go in September or October, the hedges along its sides tempt you with over-ripe blackberries. The path is difficult at times and there are some steep climbs. But it’s a metaphor for modern life if ever there was one: just keeping one foot in front of the other, it is surprising how far you climb.

Half way to along the path, you catch a glimpse of the beautiful bay of Watermouth. The cove is protected on three sides by high cliffs and small fishing and sailing boats rock gently in its calm waters. When you get to the harbour, there’s a small café that has been opened up in an old boat: the “Storm in a tea cup” is definitely worth a visit (and maybe a cream tea too) before you head back on the return leg.


“Not all who wander are lost,” wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings”. If you have time to try this wonderful part of the coast path, it will definitely reinvigorate you and, if you are feeling a little lost, my advice is to take some time to wander here.

Check out the south west coast path’s website, which gives maps and ideas for other walks, lots of information about the path and any organised activities happening on it: www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk

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