Ilfracombe is a seaside town and resort on the Atlantic coast of North Devon. It has a population of around 11,000. Ilfracombe is located in a hilly area and its small harbour is surrounded by cliffs. Ilfracombe’s origins date back to the Iron Age where Celts settled on the dominant hill in the area known as ‘Hillsborough’. Today Hillsborough is an Iron Age fort and nature reserve.
Ilfracombe’s economy around the mid 19th century consisted of both national and international trade and fishing. Today however, Ilfracombe’s main industry is tourism and a recent survey suggests up to 76% of the population are employed in the service sector.
Helping the tourism economy along is a rather unique set of beaches accessed by tunnels that were carved out by Welsh miners in order to allow access to the beaches by foot and horse drawn carriage. ‘The Tunnels’ as the beaches are referred to, are still in use today and provide access to the beaches and two tidal pools. Hele Bay to the east of the two also holds a blue flag for clean conditions and is well worth a visit.