Ilfracombe is surrounded by its natural beauty including Hillsborough, Capstone Hill & the Torrs but also has few man made green spaces, the main ones being Bicclescombe Park, St James Park, the Seafront & Runnymede Gardens all of which are owned & managed by North Devon Council.
Hillsborough is a local nature reserve & Site of Scientific Interest (SSI) overlooking the town & harbour. The great banked earthworks of an Iron Age fort are still visible today. In 2011 members of the Hillsborough Volunteer Group, with the help of a local archeologist, carried out survey work. As well as measuring ditches & banks they were also looking for post holes where a main structure may have been. The Rural Development Programme for England funded the work.
Capstone is a large outcrop of rock that lies between Wildersmouth Beach & the harbour. Capstone Parade, which goes around the promontory is said to have been built between 1842 & 1843 as an unemployment scheme. In true Victorian style this walk provides a host of stunning views across Ilfracombe & the surrounding coast. Steeper paths are cut up the front and back of the hillside with panoramic views from the top.
The Torrs is a National Trust area with cliff top footpaths from Ilfracombe to Lee Bay & is part of the Souh West Coast Path. In 2013 a new ‘Toposcope’ replaced the one that went missing many years ago. Designed by students from Ilfracombe Academy it is made of cast bronze and reflects Ilfracombe’s cultural Victorian heritage, local wildlife, coastal landscape & North Devon’s surf scene.
Seafront & Runnymede Gardens With the exception of the Bandstand, which we decorate, this area of the town is planted & maintained by contractors employed by North Devon Council.
Bicclescombe Park is Ilfracombe’s premier park, owned & managed by North Devon Council with a play area for children, tennis courts & pavilion, public toilets, model boating lake, sensory garden, duck pond with an island, mill, a tea room, picnic areas, flora & fauna & lots of wildlife! It has been awarded a Green Flag for many years and in 2015 & 2016 was awarded 5 stars in the South West in Bloom Best Park Award.
Several community groups are involved with the park, including the Bicclescombe Park Improvement Group who run the tea room, with all profits going towards improving the park, Bicclescombe Park User Group, which meets three times a year, & the Ilfracombe Model Boat Club. Also based in the park is the Ilfracombe Tennis Club, which has been in existence since 1947 & organise the Ilfracombe Tennis Tournament each July. Some of the courts are open to the general public.
More than 100 primary school children from Ilfracombe have made the grade as junior park rangers. North Devon Council organise the course which teaches the importance of parks, with the children also learning practical skills such as pond dipping & birdwatching. They are also taught about wildlife, biodiversity & the natural environment.
St James Park & Larkstone – St James Park overlooks the harbour and has recently had improvement works carried out by North Devon Council including the stablising of the cliff.
Mullacott Roundabout is owned by Devon County Council & is an important entrance to the town. In 1990 Ilfracombe in Bloom took responsibility for the design & implementation of the natural landscape & continues to maintain & replant as necessary. The roundabout is 800ft above sea level & exposed from every direction to sea winds, being one of the highest points in the area. Trees would not grow there & gas & water mains through the middle mean nothing permanent can be built or planted within 2 metres either side of these. The roundabout is designed as a rockscape with heathers, junipers, native rockroses, gorse & large rock ‘outcrops’ with scree slopes. The grass verge is mowed on a regular basis & the clippings removed in order to reduce the fertility of the soil & encourage wild plants. This fringe is planted with wild daffodils & primroses.
Chambercombe Manor & grounds are set in a secluded valley. Chambercombe is a registered charity, run by a family trust & open to the public from Easter to October each year with no charge to enter the grounds although donations are appreciated. There are over four acres of beautiful gardens, with ponds & woodland walks for you to enjoy.