Free Walking Guides


The coast around North Devon is incredibly beautiful and steeped in a fascinating history of ships, shipwrecks, trading, and smuggling. Our wildlife is also amazing with us being one of the few areas of the UK in which you can see Grey Seals in the wild.


So special is the area that there are a number of agencies with particular responsibility for looking after it - the National Trust, for example, which looks after large areas of the coast here, and the AONB partnership. The North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 171 square kilometres (or 66 square miles) of mainly coastal landscape including special places such as Combe Martin, Lee Bay, Woolacombe, Croyde, Saunton, Northam Burrows Country Park, Westward Ho!’s Pebble Ridge, the Hartland Peninsula and Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.


Click to zoom to see the designated areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The South West Coast Path also runs along the coast - and straight through Ilfracombe which means that in this town we have unenviable walking access to this beautiful coast.


If you are unsure how best to enjoy our coast, or are not sure what to look out for while you walk, the North Devon AONB Partnership have produced two great downloadable guides.


The first, Wreckers, Railways and Rockpools, is an incredibly detailed guide to an eight mile walk following the South West Coast Path from Ilfracombe to the coastal village of Lee. It
returns via Borough Valley and then down the old railway line / cycleway back to Ilfracombe - which has been made into a walk known as the Tarka Trail.



The guide gives detailled information about the landscape you will pass through as well as the wildlife and glimpses of history you will see.

The second downloadable guide is the Ilfracombe and Hillsborough Wildlife Trail


You can choose between with a 3km walk (taking two to three hours) or a short route taking around half an hour.



The guide details the route (starting from Ilfracombe Aquarium), the landscape you will pass through and, of course, the wildlife you are likely to see, including our Grey seals. The walk takes in Hillsborough, the coastal hill known to locals as 'The Sleeping Elephant', which affords fantastic views over Ilfracombe. it is worth taking a picnic simply so you have an excuse to linger even longer over those views...!


Seals often pause and watch people going by.

The guides are both available as a free download from