North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Hartland Quay and Museum

Built in the late 16th century, probably by William Abbot of Hartland Abbey. Earliest ref. is to ‘Mr. Abbott’s Key’ in 1602-1603.   Originally served by steep road down from cliff-tops. The head of the pier was washed away in 1887.

There could be no more suitable location for a Shipwreck Museum than upon the dramatic cliffs of Hartland, a promontory of breathtakingly wild beauty. At the end of a narrow road the Hartland Quay Hotel and Museum now occupies the old Customs House and warehouses. The charming, privately-run traditional museum charges a small admittance fee. On the rocky shore nearby you can just make out the remains of the 16th century Quay swept away in 1887. The panoramic views from the Hartland quay and surrounding viewing points are well worth the journey.

Hartland Quay Museum, Hartland, Bideford, Devon, EX39 6DU 


The museum has images of wrecks, ships and artefacts from shipwrecks, which tell the stories of smugglers, wreckers and sailors alike. ‘Wreckers’ could perhaps more properly be called unofficial salvagers, as they simply took advantage of the plentiful natural supply of foundered vessels rather than causing any wrecks themselves, despite the fictional accounts of such practices! Other exhibits describe local wildlife, geology and the history of the Quay.


The high cliffs on this stretch of coast are a hotspot for climbers, whilst in the right conditions, surfers can be seen in the seas below.