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Picturesque CLOVELLY was put on the map in the second half of the nineteenth century by two books: Charles Dickens' A Message From the Sea and Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, whose father was rector here for six years. The antique tone of the village has been preserved by strict regulations limiting hotel and holiday accommodation, but its excessive quaintness and the streams of visitors on summer days make it impossible to see beyond the artifice.
The cobbled, traffic-free main street plunges down past neat, flower-smothered cottages where sledges are tethered for transporting goods, the only way to carry supplies since the use of donkeys ended. At the bottom, Clovelly's stony beach and tiny harbour snuggle under a cleft in the cliff wall. If you can't face the return climb to the top of the village, there's a Land Rover service leaving every fifteen minutes or so from behind the Red Lion (Easter– Oct 9am–5.30pm; £2.20). From the visitor centre, a more level walk is possible along Hobby Drive, through woods of sycamore, oak, beech, rowan and holly, with grand views over the village.
Of the old village's two pricey hotels, the luxurious Red Lion enjoys the best position, right on the harbour (Tel:01237/431237, Web: www.clovelly.co.uk ; Price: 111-150). Halfway down the main street, Donkey Shoe Cottage (Tel:01237/431601, Web: www.donkeyshoecottage.co.uk ; no credit cards; Price: 41-50) offers more modest B&B accommodation, and there's a greater selection of guesthouses in Higher Clovelly, including East Dyke Farmhouse (Tel:01237/431216, firstname.lastname@example.org; no credit cards; Price: 41-50), near the A39 junction.