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The most popular resort on Devon's northern coast, ILFRACOMBE is essentially little changed since its evolution into a Victorian and Edwardian tourist centre. In summer, if the crowds of holiday-makers become oppressive, you can escape on a coastal tour, a fishing trip or the fifteen-mile cruise to tiny, windswept Lundy Island, all available at the small harbour. On foot, you can explore the attractive stretch of coast running east out of Ilfracombe and beyond the grassy cliffs of Hillsborough, where a succession of undeveloped coves and inlets is surrounded by jagged slanting rocks and heather-covered hills.
There are sandy beaches here, though many prefer those beyond Morte Point, five miles west of Ilfracombe, from where the view takes in Lundy. Below the promontory, the pocket-sized Barricane Beach is famous for the tropical shells washed up by Atlantic currents from the Caribbean. It's a popular swimming spot, though there's more space just south of here on the two miles of Woolacombe Sands, a broad, west-facing expanse much favoured by surfers and families alike.