Saturday, 18 July 2009

Day 6 - South West Coast - Ilfracombe - Night on an island, and living with wolves

Sharon from Collingdale Guest House has the following suggestions for visitors to Ilfracombe;

- Visit the Tunnel Beaches. These are proof that people will do almost anything to go on a beach holiday. Just to the south of town, these beaches used to be cut off from visitors by a rocky promontory. No worries, though, because Victorian engineers carved out four tunnels by hand so that the town folk could go sit on the beach, their bodies fully covered by Victorian dress. I am sure the guys who actually dug the tunnels would have preferred, after all that effort, to see a few bikinis...

- Take a day trip - or even better, spend two nights on Lundy Island, which takes its name from the Norse word for "puffin" (you can see these on the island). Check out on my Google Map where it takes about two hours by boat from Ilfracombe (£32 an adult), or you can go by helicopter (£92 an adult). You can go for a day, but rather stay on the island, says Sharon. She stayed at the bottom of the lighthouse, but you can also stay in a fisherman's cottage, a Georgian mansion or the medieval castle. I wish I had enough time to do it, but when I planned my trip, I kept to the original plan, which was to stay on the mainland. I think "Islands of Britain" should be the next adventure!

- The Ilfracombe Theatre looks like two small power plant towers, but they are in fact ingenious acoustic designs, and well worth a look. The theatre hosts shows almost every day of the year.

- If you're a surfer, Woolacombe Bay to the south of the town is a must. It often hosts international surfing competitions, and is one of the best breaks on mainland Britain.

- For something completely incongruous with the area, check out the Combe Martin dinosaur & wildlife park. I'm not one for things like these, especially when lions, meerkats, wolves and monkeys are involved, but it is home to Mr & Mrs Wolf (aka Shaun Ellis and Helen Jeffs). Shaun is a noted wildlife biologist, and in 2005 he spent 18 months in captivity, living side by side with the wolves. So it has a good reputation, apparently.

For more things to do, contact Ilfracombe's tourist office.

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