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The Canine guide to Ilfracombe holiday cottages

Towns and cities

The Canine guide to Ilfracombe

Ed Roberts 17 June 2021

The seaside resort of Ilfracombe is an extremely dog-friendly holiday destination in Devon. Treat your four-legged amigo to a splendid holiday in the South West as there are so many wonderful places to discover in and around the town. It’s a rare occasion that you and your dog will find restrictions barring entry into the shops, pubs and restaurants of the town, making it an ideal backdrop for your pet-friendly break away to North Devon.

Ilfracombe is a harbour town that has been a popular holiday resort since it was first established as one by the Victorians. The architecture of that era dominates the steep hills that characterise this beautiful town. Situated on an unspoiled stretch of the North Devon coast, it is well-positioned for visiting some of the UK’s best surfing beaches and the majestic wilds of Exmoor National Park. You won’t run out of beautiful places to walk to and explore in and around Ilfracombe.

We have compiled a guide that features the best places to visit with your dog including walks, beaches and places to eat and drink. Why not stay at one of our self-catering dog-friendly holiday cottages in Ilfracombe? Browse our collection to find your perfect holiday base.

What have we got to get tails wagging?

Click to fetch Ilfracombe’s…

🐶 Top days out

🐾 Top walkies

🏖️ Top beaches

🍴 Top dining spots

🏡 Top places to stay

Great dog-friendly days out in Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe Torrs

Ilfracombe Torrs

The best for sea views: Just west of the town centre are The Torrs, a veritable warren of criss-crossing paths that diverge and connect along the cliff sides. With endless views across the Bristol Channel, it’s the perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day. Your dog will love following scents along the winding paths that open out into large fields. Be mindful of grazing stock at the top of the cliffs as sheep worrying is an offence. If you have lots of time, head over the hills via the South West Coast Path down to Lee Bay, 4 miles to the west.

Why your dog will love it: Your dog can help you find your way back out! It’s a fun maze to solve.

The Valley of Rocks

The Valley of Rocks

The best for scrambling: At the edge of Exmoor and 0.5 miles outside Lynton (18 miles) is this eye-catching natural spectacle: the Valley of Rocks. Formed by glacial movement during the last ice age, the landforms draw in visitors looking for a unique photo opportunity. Perched on clifftops with views over the Bristol Channel to South Wales, you can follow the South West Coast Path from the valley along to picturesque Lynton and Lynmouth. Your dog will love it, as there are places to scramble and pick up scents; keep an eye out for the wild goats that make this curious area of the North Devon coast home.

Why your dog will love it: The sights and scents will send your dog spare (in a good way!)

Woody Bay

Woody Bay

The best for a picnic: Park your car high up on the fringes of Exmoor National Park, and let your pooch lead the way down through the low hanging trees to the zig-zagging descent that dallies down to gorgeous Woody Bay. Woody Bay is one of Devon’s best-kept secrets for a satisfying day out. The terrain your walk passes through is moorland, farmland and woodland culminating with a large, sheltered beach.

This rocky beach even has its own rock pool for swimming. There are no facilities at Woody Bay and it can be a strenuous walk back out, therefore we recommend saving a whole day for this excursion so you can take your precious time. There are no bins at Woody Bay, so make sure that you take your rubbish away with you.

Why your dog will love it: This is a great workout for human and dog – food is a good reward.

Top places for walkies in Ilfracombe

Bicclescombe Park

Bicclescombe Park

The best for a short exercise: Ilfracombe’s main park is under 1 mile from the town centre. Bicclescombe Park is a lovely spot for some exercise, especially if you have a puppy or an older dog with you. There’s lots of scope to meet other dog owners if your dog likes being sociable.

If your holiday home is close by, this is a nice safe park for early morning and evening promenades amongst the landscaped flower beds and large lawns. Dog owners are encouraged to keep their pets on leads as there is a busy road close by.

Why your dog will love this: There’s lots of opportunity to make friends with local dogs.

Capstone Hill and Parade

Capstone Hill and Parade

The best for sea and town views: Next to the main beach in central Ilfracombe, you will encounter the giant landform of Capstone Hill. From its peak, you can enjoy views out to sea and back inland at the town cascading down the opposite hillside. Some visitors may find the climb to the top a daunting challenge but there is a sealed pedestrian walkway around the edge of the hill called Capstone Parade, where you can watch local fishermen cast their lines off the precarious rocks below.

Why your dog will love this: The hill offers great bounding prospects for active dogs, and gentle paths for old dogs and pups.

Harbour Walk

Harbour Walk

The best for human contact: Enjoy a leisurely amble around Ilfracombe Harbour where you can see the gigantic Damien Hirst sculpture, Verity, stood at its furthest point. The harbour is packed with colourful boats including the SS Oldenburg that ferries visitors back and forth to Lundy. The harbour is also lined with eateries and pubs, where you can enjoy sit-down meals, takeaways, or a refreshing ice cream. You can also buy fresh seafood from a store on the north side of the harbour to eat straight away or to cook up later at your holiday cottage.

Why your dog will love this: It’s such an active place in the summer, your dog will love the activity. Your hound is sure to get fussed!

Top dog-friendly beaches in Ilfracombe

Harbour Beach

Harbour Beach

The best for convenience: Harbour Beach, also known as Strand Beach, only reveals itself at low tide. This small sandy beach is found in the inner harbour and is a nice place to sit down with a book or to watch people come and go. Boats also haul out onto the beach and its proximity to the RNLI’s lifeboat slipway mean there’s a need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. However, that said, it’s a lovely convenient beach that puts you at the centre of Ilfracombe’s buzzing heart.

Why your dog will love it: It’s a nice small beach where they can’t go far from your sight.

Rapparee Cove

Rapparee Cove

Best for hard won views: This small cove is popular with dog owners and close to Hillsborough Nature Reserve. Just a short walk from the centre of town in Victorian times, visitors caught a ferry from the harbour to reach Raparee Cove. The cove was once lined with colourful beach huts yet all trace of them has gone now. The beach is associated with the sinking of a ship called the London, those that perished are interned at the base of the cliffs. The beach is reached by a steep staircase, just like everywhere else in this fantastic, very hilly town!

Why your dog will love it: It’s a cool beach for rock pool investigation.

Wildersmouth Beach

Wildersmouth Beach

The best for relaxation: Wildersmouth Beach is just below Capstone Hill and found next door to Ilfracombe Theatre and Jubilee Gardens. In warmer months, there is always an ice cream van parked by the slipway to the beach. The beach is sandy and rocky with a stream running through its centre, and the black sand is an unusual sight! The water can get very choppy here so beware of currents for you and your doggy pals. This is considered to be Ilfracombe’s main beach.

Why your dog will love it: It’s close to a chippy and an ice cream van!

Top dog-friendly places to eat and drink in Ilfracombe

Adele’s Café and Sandwich Bar

Adele’s Café and Sandwich Bar

The best for early birds (and dogs): The early dog catches the sausage (to recklessly paraphrase), but for a cooked breakfast, we’d recommend seeking out Adele’s Café and Sandwich Bar; it’s a small dog-friendly spot in the centre of Ilfracombe. It’s the perfect place to grab a light lunch or something to takeaway and eat at the nearby harbour. Adele’s welcomes dogs all times of the day, so get involved!

Why your dog will love this: The staff are super friendly, and your hound may even get a small treat if they are good.

The Thatched Inn

The Thatched Inn

The best for a rest in the sun: On a sunny day, head out to one of Ilfracombe’s best pubs The Thatched Inn. Just a short walk from the town centre, this attractive pub is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal with your dog out in the well-kept pub garden. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t currently allowed inside to the bar, but when the sun’s out, this shouldn’t matter a jot. The Sunday Roast is amazing and each of the meals are of a high standard, so stop by if you love gastropubs.

Why your dog will love this: During the summer, this is a brilliant pub for dogs to sprawl in the sun and wait for the odd crisp to come their way.

Hele Billy’s Bar and Restaurant

Hele Billy’s Bar and Restaurant

The best for fish: Being close to Ilfracombe Harbour means freshly landed fish and seafood and they both feature on the menu, and the specials board is always displaying something interesting. Hele Billy’s is open every day and has a good beer garden. Dogs are welcome in and outside of Hele Billy’s, so drop in to enjoy an afternoon at this great dog-friendly pub in Ilfracombe.

Why your dog will love this: Dogs love a scrap of fish!

Top places to dog-friendly places to stay in Ilfracombe

Ocean View | Sleeps: 1 dog + 4 humans

Ocean View | Sleeps: 1 dog + 4 humans

This is a dramatic seafront apartment adjacent to Capstone Hill with breathtaking views across the Bristol Channel to South Wales. With split-level acommodation, the apartment is located on the harbour and occupies a superb central position that puts you within walking distance of most of the fabulous places mentioned in this guide.


Sandy Lane | Sleeps: 3 dogs + 4 humans

Sandy Lane | Sleeps: 3 dogs + 4 humans

This quaint property faces directly out onto Harbour Beach and the activity of the quay. It’s a cosy affair with restful bedrooms and a lovely lounge to relax in between outings to discover the best the town has to offer. Watch the tide rise and fall from your windows and make the most of this gorgeous three-storey dog-friendly holiday home.


Explore all the wonderful dog-friendly places to go in our guide to Ilfracombe in North Devon. Visit our collection of dog-friendly holiday cottages where you and your pet will find features that are bound to make a holiday in Ilfracombe thoroughly memorable.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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