Combe Martin to Ilfracombe Coastal Walk

The Combe Martin to Ilfracombe coastal walk is a five mile/ eight kilometre stretch that takes in some of the most epic scenery in North Devon.

On a clear day, you’ll feel like you’re in Thailand with the epic views from cliffs and beautiful coves! 

This section of the South West Coast Path is famous for its dramatic viewpoints and rugged cliffs.

Many people actually opt for a longer section and walk past Ilfracombe for a few miles and go around Morte Point before reaching Woolacombe.

If you fancy a longer hike, you can do this – but Ilfracombe is a good place to spend the night as well. 

So, if you’re wondering what the walking routes are for this hike, or if you want some tips from somebody who’s done it, read on for all of the information that you’ll need! 

Combe Martin to Ilfracombe Coastal Walk

View over Combe Martin Beach

The Combe Martin to Ilfracombe coastal walk can be done as part of the South West England coast path, but many people do it as just a day hike, taking a bus or taxi back to Combe Martin at the end of the day.

It’s perfect for anyone who likes to spend time in the great outdoors – whether you’re an avid trekker, on an active family holiday or just someone who wants to enjoy the beautiful coastline of North Devon, you’ll love this hike!

This route is not quite as wild as the other South West Coast Path routes in Exmoor, but it’s certainly not built up!

You should meet quite a few other people hiking both ways, but you won’t see much in the way of settlements before you get to Ilfracombe.

The walk is five miles or eight kilometres long, and takes between 2.5 – 3 hours without stops. It does have plenty of uphills and downhills, but there are also flat sections and the hills aren’t too steep!

Things to do in Combe Martin

Combe Martin is a small place, and the best attraction is just to enjoy the beach! It’s a great spot to chill out in for a few days.

You can also enjoy the rest of Exmoor National Park, with attractions like the Lynmouth Cliff Railway and Watersmeet – one of Devon’s best waterfalls – nearby.

See all of the best things to do in Lynmouth here.

Of course, you can also try the Combe Martin to Lynmouth or Porlock to Lynmouth walks, which are also on the South West England Coastal path! 

Where to stay in Combe Martin

Newberry Farm is a large campsite with a scenic lake. They have a small grassy pitch where they accept hikers for camping. 

The Pack O’ Cards is a friendly pub with rooms located close to the town. Click here for rates.

Sandaway Holiday Park is a large holiday park with cabins and an outdoor pool. Click here for rates.

Combe Martin

Shadowy view over Combe Martin Beach

Combe Martin is a resort town located on the edge of Exmoor National Park in North Devon. It’s a beautiful family destination – it gets very popular during the summer holidays, but it’s perfect for any beach fans! 

This hike begins at Combe Martin Bay. A perfect place for rock pooling, this scenic bay is a wonderful spot to enjoy breakfast and take in the views. 

To begin the walk, you will need to follow the South West Coast Path up Seaside Hill.

The path traverses outside of town, joining the road for a short time, until you venture into a wooded path.

It eventually comes out at the Cove Hotel.

Keep following along a wooded track until you reach a gate going down the Watermeet Holiday Park. 

Watermeet Holiday Park

Coastal campsite with sea in background

Next, you’ll come to Watermeet Holiday Park.

From here, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the coastal surroundings.

Walk through the park, following the acorn signs, until you come up the other side. 

Then, you’ll pass through another wooded pathway and over some clifftops.

Carry on walking, following the coast and enjoying the stunning coves and bays. 

Watermouth Cove

Boats in the harbour near Watermouth

Eventually, you’ll get to Watermouth Cove.

This is a peaceful cove with lots of boats in the harbour and Watermouth Castle – a family-friendly theme park and one of the best things to do in Devon in the rain – in the background.

Keep following the high route until you see Widmouth Head, which offers a spectacular viewpoint over Ilfracombe.

Then, walk around Rillage Point before descending to Hele Bay. 

Headland near Ilfracombe

Hele Beach

Hele Beach is one of the most popular beaches near Ilfracombe.

You’ll see stunning views of the golden sands before you approach it – it’s only a small sandy cove, but it’s glorious.

Walk across the beach and look for a wooded footpath that ascends up a hill. 

This is the start of many hills before you reach Ilfracombe!

You’ll need to go all the way up this hill, coming to a viewpoint over Ilfracombe, before you start your descent! 

Into Ilfracombe

Wooded path near Ilfracombe

It’s fairly easy to see the way into Ilfracombe now.

You’ll be able to make out the pathways that edge down the hill, leading into Ilfracombe.

Once you have reached the bottom of the hill, carry on walking in the same direction towards the harbour. 


Ilfracombe harbour with boats and walkers

You’re now in Ilfracombe! Ilfracombe has gone from being a Medieval port to a cosmopolitan town that’s popular with tourists.

The rise of tourism in Victorian times saw it become a favourite with holidaymakers; while the buildings nowadays are a little jaded, it is in an attractive location and the surroundings are stunning. 

How to get back from Combe Martin to Ilfracombe

If you’re staying in Combe Martin and are just doing this as a day hike, you might want to get back to the starting point. There is a public transport option available – the 301 bus connects these two towns. 

You could also take a taxi. A Taxis run in Ilfracombe and can take you all around the local area.

Things to do in Ilfracombe

Boats in Ilfracombe

There are plenty of things to do in Ilfracombe, including family-friendly attractions and awesome activities for couples and solo travellers. 

You can see all of the best things to do in Ilfracombe here.

Where to stay in Ilfracombe

 I like the Grand Harbour Hotel, which is newly opened and has spacious bridge rooms that look out onto the high street. Click here for more information. 

Also popular is The Avoncourt Lodge, which is a family-run B&B that serves a delicious breakfast each morning. Click here to read more.

If you’re into Boutique Hotels, try The Devonian, which has modern and stylish themed rooms. Click here to read more.

There are a few Devon cottages around Ilfracombe, which are perfect for a family getaway. Ettiford Farm Cottages, in particular, offer rustic yet well-appointed accommodation. Click here for more information.

Next segment of the South West England Coast Path

If you are carrying on on the South West Coast Path, the next step is Ilfracombe to Woolacombe.

This route takes in Morte Point, more epic coastline and the village of Mortehoe, ending in Woolacombe, a famous North Devon resort town.

On the other side of Woolacombe is Baggy Point, leading to Croyde Beach and essentially Saunton Sands. 

Combe Martin to Ilfracombe Walk

The Combe Martin to Ilfracombe walk takes in a beautiful section of the South West England Coast Path, and it’s a great way to explore North Devon!

You’ll see the golden coast of this part of Devon, take in some epic cliff paths and ultimately see the picturesque harbour of Ilfracombe. 

This hike is an excellent choice for families, but it’s fantastic for adult groups and solo trekkers too!

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