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Hillsborough & Rapparee

As well as a popular local nature reserve, a hike up to Hillsborough will reveal the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, the largest cliff castle in the south west and around 2000 years old. Gaze across the stunning landscape from the summit of Hillsborough and you'll see why this location offered such an enviable strategic position. The harbour provides a safe haven from the perilous coastline, while the hills form a natural barrier to the landward side.

Though the wooden defenses of this scheduled ancient monument have long since vanished with age, you can still see the high banks which formed the ramparts guarding the entrance of this impressive fort. The site is undoubtedly both important and complex. In the 1930s, workers disturbed what are believed to be even earlier Bronze Age burial cysts on the side of the hill, and Bronze Age artifacts have been found in the local area. Archeological project work involving volunteers and Birmingham University (supported by North Devon Coast AONB, Biosphere and North Devon Council) has started to reveal just a few of Hillsborough's secrets, which are shared through new interpretation boards on site.

Hillsborough is also one of the earliest examples of conservation schemes in the area - arising when the quiet, recreational facilities of Hillsborough were threatened by developers in 1895. Ilfracombe Urban District Council came to the rescue and purchased Hillsborough (now a Local Nature Reserve), prompting the local paper to run the headline "Saved from the builders' hands."

Hillsborough is a great spot for walking, wildlife watching or a picnic - all amidst spectacular views of the coast & Ilfracombe Harbour. Why not try the Hillsborough circular walk (7.3 miles, strenuous at times).

Rapparee cove and beach was popular in Victorian times as a bathing beach and there was both a ferry from The Pier and numerous bathing huts. Sadly this no longer exists although the beach itself is still accessible via steep steps and is popular with dog walkers.

The cove is the site of the wreck of The London which sank in 1796 in stormy weather. Numerous relics from the wreck have been discovered at Rapparee including coins and bones. There is some controversy about the bones which are said to be either the bones of French soldiers or slaves from St Lucia. Ilfracombe Dive Club regularly visit The London and have brought up numerous items including cannonballs.

More in this category: « Hele Bay Lee & Lincombe »