North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Ilfracombe Harbour

The North Devon Coast AONB is defined by its Special Qualities. These are what make our AONB so special. There are 14 Special Qualities and for each of these we have chosen a place within the AONB where you can see what we mean.

Special Quality 14 – Tourist-orientated settlements in sheltered seaside locations.

Many tourist settlements sprung up along the North Devon Coast sprung up in the early 1900’s as the area became a fashionable place to stay and enjoy the coast. Some like Woolacombe and Westward Ho! sprung up out of nothing, while other more traditional settlements such as Ilfracombe, continued to grow. Photographed from the Local Nature Reserve at Hillsborough, Ilfracombe, whose name derives from “Alfred’s Combe” Combe being a sheltered wooded valley in old English, expanded rapidly towards the end of the 19th Century and remains an important settlement that still relies heavily on tourism today.