Walk - Lee Meadow - Ilfracombe & The Torrs

9.4 miles (15.2 km)

Lee Meadow Lee Meadow

Challenging -

Once a fishing village, dating from Saxon times, Ilfracombe's particular popularity as a fashionable seaside resort was established in 1874, when the railway arrived. Although recent innovations such as the Landmark Theatre and Damien Hirst's 'Verity' statue have won it international acclaim, the Victorian flavour remains. Any walk around the town features steep gradients, but the magnificent cliff scenery towering above the picturesque harbour makes it worth the effort. This route travels out of Ilfracombe through a long wooded valley to The Torrs, a rugged area also known as 'The Seven Hills' with tremendous views across the Bristol Channel.

Walking from Lee Meadow, this is a very challenging family walk. 

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Westwell Hall

Luxury, adults only, guest house with direct access to the Coast Path. Cordon Bleu evening meals available. Fabulous sea views.

Avoncourt Lodge

Simple, light, airy B and B with home cooked breakfast, honesty bar and drying room. Ideal base for Torrs Walk and a 10-minute stroll to town centre.

Harcourt Hotel

Harcourt Hotel in Ilfracombe is a small "dog friendly Hotel " with a clean, friendly, home from home environment, in very close proximity to all amenities, including the Coast Path.

The Olive Branch Guesthouse, Ilfracombe

4AA* Guesthouse just minutes walk from the coast path! Hikers/runners/cyclists most welcome! Free WIFI + Large Inclusive Breakfast.

Ocean Backpackers

Quality independent Youth hostel with large self catering kitchen, communal lounge and dining room. Private en-suite rooms and dorms. Open all year.

Collingdale Guest House

Award winning Guest House directly on SWCP with stunning views of Ilfracombe Harbour. Minutes to the Moors, Seconds to the Sea. Book direct for best rates.

Hele Valley Holiday Park

Located in the beautiful seaside town of Ilfracombe along the stunningly rugged North Devon coast. The perfect destination for relaxing and for walking the South West Coast Path.

Sunnymead Farm Camping & Touring Site

Small friendly family run 4 AA Pennant Campsite, stunning views, dogs welcome FOC, hot showers, EHU's, large level pitches, play area

Lee Meadow Farm Camping

Traditional campsite set in lovely countryside beside the Coast Path. Visit the farm animals, free hot showers, farm shop & tea room on site. Ehup available.

Marlyn B&B

We've three en-suites with fine bedding, good food, views and 3 nearby pubs. Parking and coast road buses for break days and longer stays.

Stowford Farm Meadows

Stowford Farm Meadows is a superb camping & caravan site, from which to explore the best of North Devon.

Lundy House

Lundy House B&B sits between Mortehoe and Woolacombe on the North Devon coast. Surrounded by National Trust land. Great breakfasts. Dogs and dirty boots welcome.

Marine House B&B

We are a small modern B&B in the center of Woolacombe, just 2 minutes walk from the beach and the South West Coast path.

Newberry Beach Lodge

A pebbles throw from the award winning Newberry & Combe Martin beaches, local pubs and cafes. Enjoy a soak in a roll-top bath after a day's walking!

Channel Vista Guesthouse

This friendly, hikers' haven is open Feb-Dec. By SWCP, beaches & amenities. Free Wifi & Parking; Conservatory Bar; Laundry & Drying

Mellstock House B&B

A free pick up/drop off service is available to the Coast Path, we offer boot trays, drying room, laundry service, packed lunches, cosy bar and evening meals. All our rooms are en-suite and have TV/DVD, tea/coffee etc with free WIFI.

Fontennay B&B

A family run bed and breakfast within very close proximity of the coast path. We offer a warm friendly welcome along with our home products and cooking.

Cornwall House

A self-catering apartment and ensuite double room situated minutes from Combe Martin's stunning beaches, shops and cafes and a short walk from the path.

Blair Lodge

Quiet location on the Coast Path, near the beach, we offer a warm welcome to weary, possibly wet walkers. Tea and cake awaits and, if required, dinner, laundry facilities and lifts.

Cranleigh House B&B

Set in the heart of Combe Martin, we are a comfortable, dog friendly, vegetarian/vegan, Yoga B&B. Bike storage and overnight drying facilities available.
You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Lee Meadow Farm Shop

The home of Glampig home reared pork cuts,our own eggs, fresh baked bread and pastries, cream teas, lite bites, amazing cooked breakfast, bbq products, dog friendly,free parking.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Leaving Lee Meadow follow the footpath that runs around the southern edges of the site. Where the path forks, take the left hand fork down twisting into Borough Valley. Look for a footpath on the left that descends to a footbridge across the stream.
  2. Take the footpath by the stream northwards through Borough Wood. Coming out from the trees turn left onto the footpath and follow it past the car park until you reach the sea. Turn right on the road, past the pub. Look for the sign with the acorn denoting the coast path. Follow the coast path for 3 miles to Ilfracombe.
  3. Go through the gate beside the sign. Ignore the track to the left, instead staying beside the wall on the right, going over a stile to rejoin the Coast Path.
  4. Stay on the main path, generally parallel to the coast, ignoring all the smaller paths running away from it at you rise and fall over The Torrs - also known as 'The Seven Hills', and you understand why as you walk back above towering cliffs to the town.
  5. Descending from the hilltop, turn left through a gate to follow the Coast Path steeply down the cliff face in a series of zig-zag bends. Carry on at the steps as the Coast Path turns inland. From here continue along the concrete path to the left, and on to the lane at the right, turning left into Torrs Walk Avenue. Carry on down Granville Road, going through the metal gate at the hairpin bend.

On your left, as you walk along Granville Road, the Tunnels beaches are reached through tunnels cut by Welsh miners in the 1820s. Immediately below you is the gentlemen's beach, with the ladies beach to the right, beside the tidal pool which was the town swimming's pool until the new pool was built at Hillsborough.

  1. In the ornamental gardens take the path to the left, descending behind the Landmark and down the steps to the seafront.

The mosaic set in the ground on the seafront celebrates Jonathan Edwards's astonishing men's world triple jump record of 18.29m, set in 1995 and still in place 18 years later in 2013. Edwards lived in Ilfracombe as a teenager, when his father was the vicar at 'Pip and Jim's' Church.

  1. Following the esplanade away from the beach, take the path up to the left behind the shelter, climbing steeply to the top of Capstone Hill. Descending on the far side, turn left at the bottom to retrace your steps along Capstone Road and back to the Quay.

The zigzag paths up Capstone Hill were constructed in the 1840s by unemployed labourers. It is said that when the town's men were at sea fighting the French, their womenfolk climbed to the top of Capstone Hill, wearing red petticoats, in order to convince the enemy that there was a brigade of redcoats ready to take them on if they landed.

The Landmark Theatre was built to replace the Pavilion, which once stood at the base of Capstone Hill. In finest Victorian tradition, the old venue ran a programme of music-hall style entertainment throughout the summer season until, already semi-derelict, it was partially burnt down in the 1980s and subsequently demolished.

As you walk along the Quay with the harbour on your right, the Lifeboat Station can be seen at the head of the slipway. The first lifeboat was stationed in the town in 1828 and the present station was opened in 1996. The first motor lifeboat at Ilfracombe was placed on station in March 1936. This was a 32 feet Surf lifeboat, a type that was designed for work close inshore. It was replaced in 1945, which allowed the Surf boat to be sent to the Netherlands where there was an acute shortage of lifeboats at the end of World War II. Today the station operates an all-weather boat and an inshore lifeboat. 

  1. Having explored the pier and its surrounding attractions walk back along the Quay towards the town, past the Royal Britannia Hotel. Bear right after the hotel and then immediately left, along Capstone Road. At the end of the road continue ahead along the tarmac path, then bear left down to the broad esplanade at the foot of Capstone Hill. Continue along the top of the beach to the Landmark Theatre.

On the pier, Damien Hirst's 'Verity' statue is a 'modern allegory of truth and justice', according to its creator. The 66-ft bronze-clad statue, based on Edgar Degas's 'Little Dancer of Fourteen Years', arrived on a 20-year loan to the town in 2012. You pass Hirst's small gallery, flanked by his restaurant, as you walk along the Quay.

Ilfracombe featured in the 1086 Domesday Book as Alfriencoma, 'Alfred's Combe (Valley)', when it was a fishing village. Its harbour was well-established by the fourteenth century. In the twelfth century, it was an embarkation point for the Normans in their wars with Ireland, and ships and men were sent from here during the conquest of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Until its tourist boom in the mid-nineteenth century, it was an important local naval port, and many skirmishes against the French were recorded offshore here.

With the railway in 1874 came the pleasure steamers, carrying passengers the length of the Bristol Channel, to and from Minehead, Bristol and South Wales. Today the world's last sea-going paddle steamer, the Waverley, still visits and there is also a lively campaign by volunteers to keep her sister ship Balmoral on the water. Lundy Island's supply and passenger ship, the MS Oldenburg, sails from Ilfracombe several times a week in the summer (as well as from Bideford). Other large passenger ships occasionally visit, and there are numerous small pleasure craft, as well as the town's fishing fleet.

The jetty and promenade pier was built in the 1870s at the start of the Victorian tourist boom. The small round hill above is Lantern Hill, named after the light that was kept burning in St Nicholas Chapel, at the top, to warn sailors of the rocks below. The chapel dates from the 1300s, but the present lantern tower was not added until the start of the nineteenth century. It can be reached by means of a small path that winds up behind the harbourmaster's office.

One of the locals who frequented the bar of the Royal Britannia was author Henry Williamson, who towards the end of his life lived in a cottage on the left-hand side of Capstone Road. Williamson, who also lived and worked in Georgeham, is best known for his novel 'Tarka the Otter', following the journey of an otter through various North Devon rivers. An 180-mile walking and cycle route was later devised, based on the animal's travels, and the Tarka Trail joins the South West Coast Path along this part of the coastline.

  1. Stay on the road (Wilder Road) and carry on past the front of the Landmark Theatre.

The Landmark Theatre - combining pavilion, restaurant and tourist information office as well as a theatre - provoked considerable controversy when it was built in 1997. The two white cones, providing seating for 480 in an auditorium with stunning acoustics, were contemptuously likened to cooling towers, and locals dubbed the theatre 'Madonna's Bra'. The plate-glass windows, with spectacular views over the beach and cliffs below Capstone Hill, are decorated with lines of poetry penned by the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, who lived in North Devon. Also on permanent display at the Landmark is The Ilfracombe Tapestry, designed and sewn between June 1996 and April 1999 by ladies, and some gentlemen, of Ilfracombe. It depicts life in Ilfracombe in its Victorian heyday.

  1. Continue along Wilder road until you meet the main road. Turn right onto Church Street and crossing the roundabout continue on Church Street (the A361), passing Church Hill, before turning off right up onto Station Road.
  2. Stay on Station Road until you reach the site of the old station. As Station Road ends look for the cycleway on the left-hand side of the road, just after the old station entrance.
  3. Follow the route of the old railway line, now a footpath and cycle way out of Ilfracombe.

The Ilfracombe to Ossaborough Railway Path follows the now the disused London and South Western Railway Ilfracombe Branch Line, from Ilfracombe to Mortehoe and Woolacombe railway station. The route follows National Cycle route 27, passing Slade Reservoirs while giving a great view of the beautiful surrounding countryside. This part of the route is traffic free.

  1. Go under the road bridge and head into the small car park. Turn left and go back over the bridge before turning left into Shaftsborough Land and back to Lee Meadow.

 

 

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