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Top dog walks around Ilfracombe

Hillsborough to Rapparee beach

Climbing the zig zag path at the back of Hillsborough gives us a fine view of the little bay of Hele, where endless battering of the waves means there is some great evidence of rock erosion. If you walk down as far as Hele beach and look back along the cliffs you can see a small archway in the cliffs, a Devon version of the famous French rock arches and needles of Etretat.

The climb to the top of Hillsborough is well worth it: a stunning view of Ilfracombe harbour awaits you. Up here, standing on the back of a giant elephant - some say that the rock formation looks like a giant elephant lying in the sea when viewed from the harbour - we consider the buried treasures concealed underneath us.

An Iron Age fort once stood here and, if you walk down the path towards the town’s swimming pool, a plaque gives more detail about the site and how it was used for defence more than 2000 years ago. It is still possible to make out the ramparts of the fort, which were formed by high banks that once guarded its entrance.

Continue to the other side of the hill and down towards Rapparee beach, and treasures of another sort may lie hidden under the sands. Coins and bones from a slave ship ‘The London’, shipwrecked on the cove in 1796, have been revealed over time. This is a dog walk that shows there is still so much to uncover about our curious little town. 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:


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