The Ilfracombe to Woolacombe walk is one of the best in North Devon. It takes in epic coastline, including cliff paths and glorious bays. It does have some hills, but it’s not too taxing, and it’s about 15 kilometres in length.
This blog post will show you how to walk from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe on the South West Coast Path!
About the Ilfracombe to Woolacombe Walk
The Ilfracombe to Woolacombe walk is part of the South West Coast Path, one of the most amazing routes for walking in the UK. This historic path was created to keep a watch out for smugglers along the Cornish and Devon coast, and nowadays, it is a popular hiking route.
This is a shorter section of the Combe Martin to Woolacombe walk, which is usually recommended by guidebooks.
However, we preferred to take our South West Coast Path journey slowly, which meant that we decided to split some of our walks up a bit more – and Ilfracombe is a lovely place to spend the night.
Things to do in Ilfracombe
There are plenty of things to do in Ilfracombe. It started as a Medieval port and then turned into a popular seaside resort in the 1800s. Here are some suggestions:
- Stroll around the harbour and see Ilfracombe’s many beaches.
- Play mini-golf at the harbour.
- Visit the Ilfracombe museum and Ilfracombe aquarium.
- See the Tunnel Beach and the Victorian bathing pools.
- Go on a day trip to Lundy Island.
Where to stay in Ilfracombe
The Avoncourt Lodge is a friendly B&B that has clean rooms and offers a delicious breakfast. Click here for more information.
The Grand Harbour Hotel is a brand new hotel with spacious, airy rooms and deluxe furnishings. Click here to read more.
The Devonian is a trendy boutique hotel with stylish furnishings. Click here for more information.
Ilfracombe to Woolacombe Coastal Walk
You’ll start your Ilfracombe to Woolacombe walk right on Ilfracombe harbour. This segment of the South West Coast Path follows the Tarka Trail, a route in North Devon that follows Tarka the Otter’s journey in the book named after the otter itself.
There are no standing signposts for the South West Coast Path in Ilfracombe, but keep looking for footprints on the floor that indicate where to go for the path. You’ll need to walk past the Landmark Theatre in town (it looks like two upturned buckets!) and then up some concrete steps.
The path starts to zig-zag uphill – keep following it – you’ll pass through some coastal path and some roads before descending to Lee Beach.
Lee Beach is a pleasant little cove, and there is a car park with toilets and a pub just inland. It’s a lovely spot to stop and enjoy some lunch or just take in the views. From Lee Beach, you will need to follow a road uphill and then go through a gate until you are back on the path.
The coast path is marked well from this gate, but it does get slightly more challenging, with some steep uphills and downhills. If you’ve done the Porlock to Lynmouth hike or any others, you’ll find it easier in comparison – but it’s certainly not flat!
Bull Point Lighthouse
The next interesting point of call is Bull Point Lighthouse. The current tower was built in the late 1970s, but it replaced one that was constructed in the 1870s. Continue along the coast path past this area, and you’ll notice several paths going towards Mortehoe Village.
Mortehoe is a hilltop village that is home to just over 1500 people. The village is a little off-route, but there is a good campsite here called North Morte Farm which accepts walk-in hikers. You could stay here the night.
Alternatively, the official South West Coast Path route goes close to Mortehoe Village after you have gone around Morte Point, so you could visit the village then – there are a couple of pubs and some cafes in the village.
If you don’t go up to the village, you’ll walk past Rockham Beach which is owned by the National Trust. This is currently (June 2021) closed due to a landslide, but you can enjoy the spectacular views from the path over the beach.
Morte Point is a dramatic headland (morte means death!) just before Woolacombe. The coastal path will lead you around the headland – look out for seals in the sea as you walk parallel to the ocean! As you walk around Morte Point, enjoy the panoramic views of the sea and coastline.
Descending into Woolacombe
Once you’ve walked around Morte Point, you will be able to see Woolacombe in the distance. Following the path, you’ll walk uphill before going through a gate. The road downhill leads straight to Woolacombe, but the official path leads uphill towards Mortehoe and then through another entrance on the other side of the road before going through Heddon Valley and dropping into the village.
Barricane Beach is the first beach that you’ll see when you come into Woolacombe. This is a beautiful beach with rock pools and is a great place to watch the sunset!
Finally, you’ll come to Woolacombe Beach. Woolacombe was a small farming community until the 20th century when people realised how stunning the surroundings were. In fact, the beach was rated the 13th best in the world and the best in the UK! It’s a popular tourist spot – on a sunny day, it’s absolutely packed – but surfers also love it.
Well done, you’ve completed the Ilfracombe to Woolacombe coastal walk! If you are hiking the entire South West Coastal Path, you might want to stay in Woolacombe for a day or two before gearing up for the next day of hiking. There are plenty of things to do in Woolacombe, as you’ll see below.
Things to do in Woolacombe
- Enjoy the epic golden sands of Woolacombe Beach!
- See the other lovely beaches of the area, like the nearby Croyde Beach
- Walk around Baggy Point and enjoy the beautiful views of Woolacombe and Croyde – although this is part of the next South West Coastal Path walk (from Woolacombe to Braunton)
- Play a spot of crazy golf by the seaside
- Enjoy Woolacombe’s rich dining scene.
Where to stay in Woolacombe
We stayed in North Morte Farm in Mortehoe, which has a huge peaceful campsite for tents and accepts hiker walk-ins. You’ll be able to enjoy dramatic scenery right from your tent each morning – and it’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset! This is probably the cheapest option for accommodation near Mortehoe, at only £10 per person.
Lundy View has, as the name suggests, an excellent view of Lundy Island. It has beautiful, bright rooms with some balconies overlooking the beach. Click here for more information.
Watersmeet Hotel has luxurious rooms and bathrooms with roll-top baths. It is in a wonderful location on the seafront. There is also a seasonal outdoor pool. Click here for more information.
How to get from Woolacombe to Ilfracombe
The Ilfracombe to Woolacombe coastal walk is a straightforward day walk as there is a public transport route connecting the two. The 31 bus connects both towns. The bus journey time is 20 minutes, although it’s only an 11 minute drive between the two beach towns, so you could also take a taxi.
Ilfracombe to Woolacombe Coastal Walk
Hopefully this guide has shown you how to walk from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe – which is one of my favourite hikes in North Devon! Be sure to take a look at the rest of my South West Coast Path guides!