South of Bideford on the other side of Clovelly is this dramatic coastal location with its lighthouse, beautiful cliff-top paths and a small shipwreck museum!
Join the A39 from Bideford heading south until you see the turning for Hartland Point
About two miles west of Ilfracombe - as the crow flies - lies this small gem of a seaside village. It's set in a very deep 'combe' or valley and is one of those places where you genuinely feel as though you've stepped back in time. The village can be reached by road where you can experience the vertiginous descent through narrow lanes or by footpath across the cliffs from Ifracombe with wonderful sea views.
Once there you can enjoy a variety of pleasures - visiting the Fuschia tea gardens or the Grampus pub, taking one of several excellent walks, or just enjoying the wonderful little rocky cove and beach which for many is the highlight that really provides Lee with its charm.
From Ilfracombe take the B3231 passing through Slade valley and Lincombe then descend into Lee.
If you want to see some of the surrounding countryside and villages, then a leisurely boat trip on the Volga is a good way to do it.
These run mainly during the summer and one of the most popular trips is to Tolga, taking about an hour each way.
There are also somewhat faster hydrofoil services to Kostroma, an hour and a half each way.
Trips are from the river station on Pervomayskaya Ulitsa.
A few miles south of Ilfracombe are the villages of Croyde, Saunton and Braunton. What they all have in common are huge sandy beaches and conditions that have become well known for surfing. If you don’t surf, just get an ice cream and watch – it’s quite entertaining.
Croyde, Saunton, Braunton
If you’re driving around north Devon, then you can easily be crossing Exmoor without realising it. It’s a National Park that extends from the Lynton and Lynmouth coastline to the Quantock hills of Somerset and features some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in England.
It offers some spectacular walks and is home to a huge range of wildlife, not least its very own Exmoor pony.
Up on Exmoor, which lies a few miles inland from Lynton, is an area called Badgworthy Valley. Due to the efforts of the writer R D Blackmore however, it has become known as Doone Valley, being largely the setting for the novel Lorna Doone.
The countryside here has an extraordinary wild beauty and whether you want to do some serious walking or just linger around Malmsmead, the village at the heart of the area, you won’t fail to share in the enchantment that inspired Blackmore to write his book.
There is a memorial stone to Blackmore on one of the footpaths and if you’re going to indulge in a cream tea, then Lorna Doone Farm is the place to have it while admiring the view over the little river valley.
Take the turning to Oare from the A39 just east of County Gate. After one mile fork right at Oare and into Malmsmead.
This is probably the most beautiful of the churches in the city. It’s worth walking all the way round, especially if you want to photograph it, as the pleasing collection of domes move around each other as you walk, offering sometimes surprising perspectives.
There is a warning that the church will be closed during wet spells, but I’m not sure if this is to help preserve the interior or whether it has a leaky roof. If you do venture inside you’ll find some of the best frescoes on the Golden Ring circuit.
Before the film 'Amelie', it was just another cafe in Montmartre. It serves perfectly good food and drink, as it always did, and lies on the tourist trail between the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur.
Now it's a stop for a coffee, or lunch, because everyone wants to see the film location. Apart from the tobacco counter, everything is just as it was in the film, including the miniscule 'toilette' where the earth-shaking sex scene took place.
When I made my visit it was full of art students rather than tourists, perhaps you need to go there in the evenings to find out if the locals still actually use it. As a rare example of a real life film set though, it's priceless.
15 Rue Lepic
Not far along the coast road from Lynton you’ll find a signpost for Hunters Inn, which as well as being a pub-restaurant and place of accommodation, is also a beauty spot near the bottom of the alarmingly steep and deep Heddon Valley.
The walks in this area are spectacular, whether you follow the river path down to the sea or climb the cliff paths which cut narrow tracks along steep, heather-covered inclines.
This is a truly beautiful place to spend some time, just make sure that your car brakes are in good working order before you make the journey.
Take the coast road from Lynton towards Ilfracombe. Watch for the signposted road for Hunters Inn.
In and around Rue Daru is a small Russian community where you can find Russian restaurants and shops to browse around. The grandest feature however is the Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky, which is an impressive sight, both outside and in.
Albert Kahn was a 19th and 20th century businessman who decided to use his wealth to create an 'Archive of the Planet' at the turn of these centuries in a world being irrevocably changed by the industrial revolution.
He did this by hiring a number of photographers, equipping them with the Lumiere brothers' autochrome colour photography cameras and despatching them to all corners of the globe. The result became a unique archive of 72,000 images and 600,000 feet of film taken between 1900 and 1930.
A selection of the autochromes, as well as clips of film footage, are now on display in the museum, the selections change on an annual basis.
The entry fee also includes access to Kahn's gardens which also reflect his internationalist philosophy. The gardens are a mixture of Japanese, French and English and also include three ‘mini-forests’ with terrain that you might find in any one of the African, Asian or American continents. There is also a ‘Palmarium’ that houses a café as well as some more exotic plant life.
The museum is modern, having opened only in 1986, and also includes computer booths where you’ll find an interactive map of the whole complex, inside and out.
Viewers of the BBC’s ‘Edwardians in Colour’ series will have had a preview of what the museum has to offer, and it’s well worth the 30 minute Metro ride to see it for yourself.
14 Rue du Port in the Boulogne-Billancourt district.
Metro: Pont de Saint Cloud (the museum is literally around the corner and is signposted).
Phone: 01 55 19 28 00
Feodor Volkov, son of a local wealthy merchant, founded the theatre in 1750. It was the first professional public theatre in Russia and went on to become an important centre for the development of actors, which it remains to this day. The current building, on the original site, was constructed in 1911 in the neo-classical style.
This is the centrepiece of Yaroslavl, a 16th century monastery which as well as an impressive cathedral and bell-tower also now houses a museum of local history. They also give impressive bell ringing demonstrations, the bells are hung from a free standing frame and worked by an impossible looking set of strings.
25, Bogoyavlenskaya square
Just a couple of miles up the road from Ilfracombe is the small resort of Woolacombe. The most remarkable thing about it is its huge sandy beach with a warren of dunes behind it. Most people seem to crowd together at the town end, but if you're prepared to put in a little exercise you can have the pick of the mile or so of sand that stretches before you.
An antique shop now occupies this building, which actually comprises a house from c1450 at the front merged with the Victorian era hall.
It’s the 15th century part that captivates everyone however, being a marvellous example of Tudor architecture. It’s now restored to a mellow-looking sandy colouring rather than the black and white that most people associate with this type of building. Inside is just as appealing as out but be careful, you may end up buying an antique to remind you of your visit.
St Andrew Street
So called as it is surrounded by rivers that feed into the Lea just slightly to the east and you can’t get to it without crossing a bridge.
It’s a relatively tranquil spot with some pretty cottages and riverside views and is a good starting point for the walks over Hartham Common and the meads. Inevitably, there’s a pub too, the Old Barge.
From the town centre, take Bull Plain to reach the bridge.
'Hertford Castle' refers more to an area in the middle of the town rather than the 15th century gatehouse that lies at the centre of it, the only remaining building of the actual castle that once stood there.
There are, however, other remnants including 11th century perimeter walls built with flint and the original 10th century motte. All this is situated by the river Lea and surrounded by some very well kept gardens, the modern day use being mainly as a park area.
The castle has had some famous residents over the years, including Elizabeth I, who was a frequent visitor.
My view is that this spot is best reached by following the cliff path from Lynton (rather than driving), which is well signposted. As long as you have a head for heights, the walk is beautiful and invigorating with fantastic views of the coastline. The spot itself is a dry valley surrounded by some quite spectacular rock formations which some people choose to climb. There are also several small but secluded bays in the vicinity where you can enjoy the coast in peace, assuming there aren’t lots of other walkers about with the same idea.
Just follow the cliff path from Lynton
Lundy is a Norse word meaning puffin, so ‘Puffin Island’ gives the game away somewhat. There are still puffins there, and this is what many people who visit the island are hoping to see, though in truth most tourists would be ill-equipped to do so, as the little birds don’t just stroll around on the footpaths, preferring instead to hide away on the extremely high, sheer cliff-sides that define the island.
On arrival, most likely via the MS Oldenburg that sails regularly from Ilfracombe and Bideford (the alternative being a rather more ostentatious helicopter), you‘ll find a 3.5 mile long and 0.5 mile wide granite outcrop residing in the Bristol Channel about 11 miles from the mainland. It rises some 400 feet, and when the heather’s in bloom, it makes a particularly pretty sight as you approach the small harbour at the bottom of the eastern cliff. There’s only one path up the cliff-side, which most people walk (it’s about a mile) though you can get transport if you need it. As a general rule though, there are no cars (or anything that you could call a proper road) on the island.
On the way up you’ll see a Regency style house, the residence of a former owner of the island, but this is hardly typical of the buildings that make up the small village that you’ll discover once you’ve reached the cliff-top. Inevitably, they’re mostly small, granite affairs that house the island’s 19 permanent inhabitants. There’s also one shop, a Victorian era church and, of course, a pub, the Marisco tavern, named after a former 12th Century ruler of the island, William de Marisco. Outside the village, on the south eastern corner, is a medieval castle that was built by Henry III.
The tranquillity of the island is legendary, as are the sea views and the opportunities for various forms of wildlife study – from bird watching to underwater exploration. I was very surprised to spot some wild deer in the middle of the island, but they’re very shy despite their limited territory. Lundy is also a gift for artists and photographers so don’t forget to take your gear.
Apart from day tripping, there is accommodation of various types on the island if you fancy a real retreat from modern life. No cars, no high street franchises, no office buildings, and no street lights – you can actually see the stars at night while listening to the roar of the Atlantic on the rocks below.
The MS Oldenburg runs regularly from Ilfracombe and Bideford during Spring - Autumn months.
From Lynmouth, if you have some decent walking shoes on, you can follow the river path along the deep, wooded valley up to Watersmeet. Here you will find wonderful scenery, pretty waterfalls and, after about a mile, a National Trust cafe and shop where everyone seems to converge.
From here, you can either rest and re-fuel before heading back, or continue along numerous paths that wind off further up through the forest. If it's a hot day, be sure to take a drink with you.
Take the river path that starts next to Lynmouth car park.
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