Dag Pike finds shelter from westerly breezes at Ilfracombe and discovers it is a must-visit for foodie cruisers

Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon can be a useful anchorage on your way up the Bristol Channel or as one of  the last places you might stop over on your way to Land’s End, writes Dag Pike.

It is a significant port for both fishing boats and yachts but it does dry out at low water so this is really bilge-keeler country.

For yachts with a fin keel you might be able to dry out alongside the harbour wall if there is space but anchoring off is also a viable alternative, particularly in the summer when the harbour is very crowded.

There are two possibilities for anchoring here.

One is just off the entrance, tucked in close to the rocks on the east side, although here you do need to choose your spot very carefully.

The ferry out to Lundy often berths alongside in the outer harbour and the fishing boats come and go regularly so you need to leave room for these activities.

Make sure you are to the east of the line of the leading lights into the harbour and you will find enough space to drop your hook.

The alternative is to head a short distance to the east into Hele Bay where there will be a bit more shelter from a westerly and it will certainly be quieter.

Here, you can find an anchorage in about 5m about 300m from the shore.

There is also a slipway for landing your tender.

Continues below…

Buck's Mills, North Devon

Buck’s Mills, North Devon

This quaint North Devon anchorage is a peaceful haven offering protection from southwesterlies, says Dag Pike

Babbacombe Bay

Babbacombe Bay, Devon

On Devon’s eastern flank there is a degree of protection from the prevailing winds and Tor Bay served as an…

Unless the conditions are very quiet and settled this coastline is no place to stop in any winds from the north.

Neither of these anchorages is viable in anything over a fresh breeze from the west but should work reasonably well in a southwesterly and, of course, anything from the south.

The high cliffs offer good shelter and the bottom of the bay is sand which should give good holding.

A white house high up on the headland to the east of Hele Bay will give you a good guide about where to head in.

The Hele Bay pub is just a short walk from the slipway and they do good quality pub food and a wide selection of beers.

It is about half-a-mile’s walk into Ilfracombe and here you are spoilt for choice for pubs and restaurants.

I recommend the Lynbay Fish and Chip shop on the harbour, but if you want true gourmet food then head for the Thomas Carr at the Olive, which is one of the best places to eat in town.

Don’t miss the S & P Fish Shop on the south quay, either, where you can get the best crab or lobster sandwiches at lunchtime.

Ilfracombe is making quite a transition from a run down seaside town to a real foodie destination, so is well worth a visit if the wind direction favours you anchoring off.

Finally, the town has the most amazing bronze statue of a pregnant woman as a seamark to welcome you into its harbour.

Verity is by Damien Hirst and stands over 20m tall.