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Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

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Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

Hi, I have lived in the Ilfracombe area for six years (in Devon for ten) , and I wondered what visitors and locals alike, think of Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. The 'Combe' is a good looking seaside resort down by the promenade, in my opinion. The town and its people are generally friendly, especially most of the shops, though Ilfracombe is marred by its 'bedsit' and hostels reputation. This is not the fault of Ilfracombe townspeople, this is the fault of policies, and the nationwide idiocy of putting trouble in to run-down seaside towns (telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10221475/Seasi…).

Recessions have also taken their toll, but we can still see the town's Victorian heritage, interesting perhaps to those who don't consider sitting in Wetherspoons and carrying on like they do at home, as a worthwhile pastime on holiday. Worth mentioning are the small businesses, who bravely battle modern trends, with their own shop, Cafes and restaurants. Bravo !!. We haven't been invaded by many nationwide chains, and for that I am grateful as a supporter of the High St. But the Councils have the final power; what will happen to our small businesses, in future?


Combe Martin about five miles away, has changed in recent years, and perhaps not for the better. All along the coast road from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin, there are coastal path walks, and wonderful views, the best anywhere, which of course cannot be harmed, thankfully. The village seems lifeless and drab though, Combe Martin seemingly has nothing to offer but a Museum about the village's good old days. No photogenic buildings of note, no flowers or bright buildings, and not more than a couple of really good restaurants and very little fish served. One wouldn't know they were in Devon. Whereas Ilfracombe has beautiful buildings, gardens and great restaurants. The village of Combe Martin has a wonderful history when you investigate, and there is an annual carnival but it seems to be a backwater full of shops. The village is hugely egotistical imho, and does not welcome visitors publicly. CM's Pubs have been decimated, latterly the Royal Marine, now yet another shop, but I guess shoppers and holidaymakers like that.

I do dislike the Ilfracombe theatre for its odd shape ("Madonna's Bra" they call it), "tribute" shows and mimics, with just a few good plays and shows. But complete disregard for the Victorian heritage. I'm not fond of 'Verity' either. That said, I am sure the right people will be attracted to Ilfracombe because of the statue, and equally sure 'she' attracts criticism because she has nothing to do with a few local values and beliefs. Ilfracombe has a rich history in maritime, boats, ship building, fishing, and Victoriana. If this is allowed to decline further, we will have lost one of the finest Victorian heritages in the world. The blame might lie squarely with the local Council.

There are rumours that Ilfracombe is due for redevelopment, good for the economy, maybe not so good for its traditional residents who value its quirky and quiet aspects. After the developers have finished, within a couple of years perhaps the town will look much different. It seems to have suffered in the recession and from under-investment, Hotels are sold and redeveloped, but just like any other town if we kept away from the less savoury parts, Ilfracombe would be a fantastic holiday. I love the area, it has some of the best walks, views, and rocky seascapes, in Britain. The town looks quite clean, and we have a brilliant quirky Museum with wonderful staff, which continually scores high on TA. Our Churches are lovely, and we have several of those. We have a few great restaurants, fishing, boat trips, and one or two outstanding Pubs here. That said: I do not venture on to the High St after dark , and this is what disappoints me. But does anyone have other positive views? Diversity and developments rightly reflect modern Britain which needs to be inclusive, but what if visitors can't get away to a Victorian seaside resort and have a change? Do we just rely on the coast and sea views and nothing else? Are we losing our Devonshire character? Love to hear other opinions.

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11. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

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12. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin


"Cowboy developers and property owners/management companies destroying Ilfracombe heritage". That's the upshot, as we understood things. We're uncertain of the accuracy of local Ilfracombe chatter, but locals were complaining over developers and builders. They've usually no respect for history or heritage, them being builders. They've had to be stopped by authorities and English Heritage apparently; cowboy builders are running riot and they're local people. The most vociferous complaint we heard was about the old Gaiety Theatre (now The Naked Cake) next to Wetherspoons."Tony the landlord has smashed the ornate Victorian ceiling which existed harmlessly for 100 years, to bits, and installed fibre-glass". If true, that is a tragic loss to heritage through sheer ignorance which will go unpunished. By the looks of it, Ilfracombe isn't going to have much heritage left, and they're expecting a builders breakfast when the town gets hundreds of new homes.

We've been on a break in the area for some weeks now, and it looks as if the town is getting a facelift. Though hopefully not at the expense of Ilfracombe's incredible heritage and history as a town second only to Brighton , a fact made clearly obvious by staff at Ilfracombe Museum. Shame if local complaints are true, and such a loss for the town, though we understand the local council and glitterati are hopeless and they are encouraging this mindless vandalism.

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13. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

I'm staying in Ilfracombe in July/August with family (seven adults and two young children) Glad to see not all comments negative! Hopefully there will be thing for us to enjoy and we will have cars. I started feeling a bit depressed at some points in this.

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14. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

nellymay there is a lot of grumbling and griping, it's as though the people who live there want to stop anyone from visiting. I have to admit that I just don't understand the tone of this thread. It doesn't start with a question and mostly not answering questions.

I've given my two cents worth on page 1, I love Ilfracombe and visit regularly in the summer and also nearby Combe Martin (I see sand there). Both beaches good for young children as the slope to the water is shallow. There is also Hele beach between which is small and quiet. For the children crabbing and rock pooling.

Lots of places nearby to explore for a day trip if you want a change from the beach for a day.

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15. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

This is an odd thread, I agree. Nellymay, Ilfracombe has it's charms, it us a traditional seaside town with a pretty harbour and the north Devon area is wonderful - you'll have a great holiday I'm sure :)

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16. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

I found this thread while googling North Devon theatre closures but the district has a lot to recommend it. Walks, scenery, tourism, museums and churches are good here. This district is laid back North Devon and typical 'seaside' no worse than others. I'm sure visitors enjoy it. No use dressing it up, like everywhere else we've had banks and bus route cutbacks, and economic problems. People should not be put off. I would say bring a car if you're heading towards Lynton/Lynmouth and perhaps draw enough money for the day wherever you go. Ilfracombe's tourist bus service is very good indeed and North Devon is nice to explore. I think some local shops and taxis are expensive, cash withdrawals aren't always free and machines can be emptied quick. All of this happens everywhere.

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17. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin


Free leisure indeed. On this stretch of the southwest coastal path, Ilfracombe and Combe Martin boast challenging walks and truly magnificent views. It's fairly unobstructed but you'll need to be fit, with a good head for heights plus the right clothing and equipment.

Make sure you're safe and well-prepared, and you'll have a marvellous time. Best of all, it's free, and very healthy. You can also go the other way to Lee Bay and Woolacombe. If you want to know about all important safety, look here southwestcoastpath.org.uk/faq/safety-advice/ .

Information: visitilfracombe.co.uk/see-do/walking/item/335

We've walked from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin , and made it to the top of Great Hangman, the highest point, at 1,000 ft. Check with Combe Martin Museum on Cross Street or local shops for maps. There is a last bus back to Ilfracombe about 6.30 pm Mon-Sat or there are taxis. We wouldn't attempt this in ordinary clothes or shoes to be honest.

Edited: 08 April 2017, 20:27
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18. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

So Illfricoomb isn't that great a place to live then?

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19. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

Best to be honest whether some like it or not. Ifracombe is a great place to live if you choose your location right and you don't expect much from the local shops and Cafes (which we no longer patronise). Estate agents seem to be multiplying in Ilfracombe. You will get general groceries all right - but we have to travel for clothes and phones because the Ilfracombe offerings are pathetic.

We've also had a right pantomime with the local theatre, and the new management company still hasn't restarted performances. My family has lived here in Ilfracombe for a long time with stunning coastline and plenty of free coastal health esp. with the walks, hills and paths. An ideal holiday resort for the average person liking food and drink, and something for the kids. Landlords seem unable to run our Pubs though.

Great bus service too, but this is a very lazy town - be aware that most Ilfracombe High St cafes only serve cooked food til three pm. But there are boat trips to enjoy. Combe Martin doesn't hold any attraction for us and its bus service is very poor.

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20. Re: Ilfracombe & Combe Martin

Do people who have chosen to live in the very towns that they denigrate, ever consider that they might be part of the problem when they could be part of the solution?

If you choose to live somewhere - get involved with local activities.Organise some yourself. Campaign for improvements. Stand for elected office locally (town/local/county council). And be an advocate for your town. Tell people what is good about it, not what is bad.

So that theatre isn't being run how you like it - get a community group together and press for change. Take over the damn theatre if that's what it takes!

So it's a "lazy" town - well don't be lazy yourself (i.e. don't join the choruses of negativity - which as "lazy" acts go, sure takes the biscuit). If the cafés close at three - open one that opens until six, seven, eight. Run it as a community café and a hub for local people if you have to. Heck, start up a community pub and give people an alternative to the Wetherspoon's culture.

There is always something you can do to make your town better. Take responsibility and don't expect other people to do it for you.

Edited: 26 August 2017, 19:58
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