Tunnels Beach, Ilfracombe
The strangely named Tunnels Beaches at Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast have an unusual history.
Located near the centre of town the beaches are accessed from the western end of Wilder Road. Hand carved between 1819 and 1823, the four tunnels provide a truly unique experience. Visit and learn how local entrepreneurs developed the tunnels and pools, and transformed Ilfracombe from a small fishing village into a popular seaside tourist resort.
When first constructed, and reached through the first tunnel, the western beach was allocated to men only whilst the eastern pool, accessed through the third tunnel, was strictly ladies only.
As the guidebook states 'Segregated bathing was tightly controlled; a bugler sat between the ladies’ and the gentlemen's pools – if a man attempted to spy on the ladies, the bugler would blow an alarm call and the man would be arrested.' The separation of the sexes lasted for 82 years until 1905, when mixed bathing was first permitted.
Children can play safely in the tidal pool or explore the rock pools, while parents relax in deckchairs.
Please Note: There is a small entry charge.
✔ Sandy beach
✔ Cafe, shop or pub
✔ Easily accessible
✔ Family friendly
✔ Interesting geology
✔ Lifeguard in summer
✘ Total dog ban
OS Explorer Map OL9: Exmoor
This map is part of the Ordnance Survey's Explorer series designed to replace the old Pathfinder map series. At 1:25,000 scale this detailed map shows a host of attractions including gardens which are open to the public, nature reserves and country parks as well as all official footpaths, bridleways, roads and lanes. Other facilities covered include: camping and caravan sites, picnic areas and viewpoints, selected places of interest, rights of way information for England and Wales, National Trail and Recreational Path routes, and selected tourist information. The series is aimed mainly at the experienced map user but can be used by tourists and locals alike.
Stay at a nearby Holiday Park and keep the kids amused all day! Parks in the vicinity include those at:
Plenty of hotels are available locally. Consider those in the local towns:
There's plenty more to explore in this area, too! Find more attractions and things to do nearby: