Things to do on your Ilfracombe autumn break

Photo credit: Phil Longshaw

Autumn in Ilfracombe is a wonderful time of year for a break, with plenty to see and do plus the weather is usually mild and there are some amazing coastal walks and views to enjoy as the region dons its autumn plumage.

If the weather is rough, the rugged North Devon coastline provides some spectacular displays of the power of the sea to observe from a safe distance, before returning to your favourite hostelry or eatery for a well-deserved drink or hot meal.

It is a perfect time to enjoy mild weather without the summer crowds.

Photo credit: Allan Collins

Ilfracombe is also the perfect base to explore North Devon and Exmoor, with some glorious gardens and attractions to visit, looking stunning in their autumn mantles.

We’ve put together some autumn attractions and things to do while enjoying a break during what can often be the best time of the year.

Take an autumn walk

Autumn can often provide the perfect walking weather – not too warm, but not too miserable either!

Lace up your walking boots and set off to discover a world of autumn colour on a variety of walks in and around Ilfracombe.

The hills surrounding the town offer walks of varying distance and difficulty amidst the gold, brown, red and bronze hues of autumn and with the crisp crunch of leaves underfoot.

Photo credit: Phil Longshaw

Hillsborough provides the chance to lose yourself amidst the coastal scenery and autumn splendour – plus it is the site of an Iron Age hillfort too.

The former Victorian Cairn Pleasure Ground & Old Railway (where the trains once arrived in Ilfracombe!) is a lovely woodland full of history and is now the Cairn Woodland Local Nature Reserve.

The Torrs offers longer and shorter or circular coastal walks to combine the autumn experience with majestic sea views.

Photo credit: Allan Collins

Bicclescombe Park is also draped in autumn splendour and is a lovely park to stroll around, a great place for families, with a children’s play area, duck pond, boat pond, tennis courts and the charming Old Mill House and Tea Rooms.

Bring your four-legged friend

Photo credit: Gina-Luisa Groce

Ilfracombe is a dog-friendly town and there are plenty of places that welcome well-behaved pooches. Why not take a bracing walk on Woolacombe beach with miles of golden sand and dunes.

Wildersmouth and Hele beaches are open to dogs during the autumn, plus there are many walks around the town with sights to see and interesting smells to sniff!

Most pubs and many of the cafes also welcome dogs, including the café at Ilfracombe Aquarium.

Wave watching

Photo credit: Charmain Lovett

The autumn storms and Atlantic swells often bring some truly spectacular displays to enjoy along the North Devon coast – and of course they’re free to view!

But stay safe! Watch the show from a careful distance, do not stand where the waves are breaking and supervise children at all times.

Keep an eye on the tide times for larger tides, ideally 9.0 metre plus and the weather forecast for string northerly winds, or strong south west winds.

Photo credit: Charmain Lovett

The seaward side of Ilfracombe Pier, with a prime viewing spot on Lantern Hill, is a great place for wave watching, and a walk to the top of Lantern Hill will give epic views of Cheyne seawall as huge waves crash over it.

Off road adrenalin

The season of muddy fruitfulness is a prime time to get down and dirty on quad bikes or with a 4×4 Land Rover Experience.

Keypitts on Visit Ilfracombe

Keypitts Off Road Adventures on the outskirts of Ilfracombe offers all this plus a spot of axe throwing too!

Whether you are a seasoned off-roader or a complete novice, and regardless of age or ability, there is an exhilarating experience awaiting on 200 acres of scenic terrain.

You can expect a warm welcome, full instruction and guidance during your visit, so get your wheels into a muddy rut this autumn!

See the sea from every tee

That is the motto of Ilfracombe Golf Club and it doesn’t disappoint, with absolutely stunning views while you play that have to be among the very best of any golf club in the UK.

Ilfracombe Golf Club on Visit Ilfracombe

The club welcomes all who wish to go along and try a truly unique course. There is a wide range of clubs, equipment and shoes to hire, as well as buggies available.

A well-appointed clubhouse and restaurant offers plenty of time to relax too.

Take a bite

Returning from a bracing autumn day outside, what better way to wind down than with an excellent fresh-cooked meal at one of Ilfracombe’s many restaurants, cosy pubs or cafes?

The Brasserie at The Carlton Hotel

There is something to suit every budget and taste, whether that’s good honest ‘pub grub’, Italian, tapas, Indian, Chinese, vegan and everything in between.

Please bear in mind restaurants may not always be open every night during the autumn, and it is best to check with the venue and book in advance. You can find a list of just some of the great local eateries at Eat & Drink – Visit Ilfracombe

Visit some glorious gardens

North Devon is home to some amazing garden attractions, now wearing their autumn colours with pride and each one offering a great day out.

Broomhill Sculpture Gardens is only a few miles from Ilfracombe which combines extensive gardens with a hotel, restaurant and some incredible sculptures from fun or bizarre to thought-provoking. Each year it also hosts the National Sculpture Prize.

Marwood Hill Gardens is 15 miles and is a truly magical place, created in the 1950s and offering an amazing array of plants and landscaping to explore. Open until the end of October.

RHS Rosemoor

RHS Garden Rosemoor at Great Torrington really will fill your day, with 40 acres of formal and themed gardens that are constantly changing with new displays, as well as a host of workshops, activity fays, live music and events, an on site restaurant and shop and much more.

Arlington Court is a National Trust Regency house a few miles from Ilfracombe, set in wonderful grounds that always look spectacular in the autumn, with plenty of walks to enjoy, deer to spot and the house and Carriage Museum with its collection of horse-drawn vehicles to visit.

Make for Ilfracombe Museum

Ilfracombe Museum

With a truly eclectic mix of displays and collections, from local history to the exotic, Ilfracombe Museum is well worth a visit to while away a few hours.

The museum is hosting a series of talks during the autumn, with topics ranging from Combe Martin silver mines to the Victorian sex trade! For information and tickets go to Ilfracombe Museum Trust CIO – Art Tickets

The museum also runs regular workshops and craft sessions for families and children – visit Ilfracombe Museum for more details.

Photo credit: Phil Longshaw

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival

Exmoor has some of the darkest skies in Europe and is an International Dark Sky Reserve, with some amazing astral displays to enjoy once the sun goes down – spot autumn constellations and planets as well as the Leonid meteor shower throughout November.

To celebrate this, Exmoor National Park hosts the Dark Skies Festival each year, with more than 50 events across the moor, with talks, guided night time walks, stargazing sessions, the chance to visit a planetarium and a great deal more,

For the full programme, visit Exmoor – Dark Skies Festival (

Follow Us

Explore More