Hillsborough & Rapparee Cove

Local Nature Reserve

Hillsborough is a great spot for walking, wildlife watching or a picnic – all amidst spectacular views of the coast & Ilfracombe Harbour. 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.

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.”

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 locals and dog walkers. Rapparee 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 there 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.