Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is the start (or end, depending on your direction of travel) for the Devon Coast to Coast route. Set in an absolutely stunning natural setting, the town overlooks the Atlantic. 
As with many towns and villages in Devon, tourism is vitally important to the local economy. Given that importance, you'd expect the town to make much of being the starting (or end) point for thousands of cyclists making the iconic journey across Devon. You'd also be mistaken, sadly.
Even the local tourism association hardly mentions cycling, and when they do they entirely fail to realise the economic importance of cycle tourism. This is an omission that you will see being repeated in a number of other places along the route, despite cycle tourists spending on average more per day than any other tourist.

Criticism aside, Ilfracombe has a lot going for it, and generally you should find the locals to be friendly and helpful. On a sunny summers day, standing next to the statue of Verity, gazing out to sea is a fantastic way to spend a bit of quality time. Of course, there's far more to Ilfracombe than just the Atlantic, and the gorgeous Verity standing guard.

A small town, with a population of just over 11 000, it nevertheless has much to offer. Many cruise operators are based in the harbour - which has a long and proud history of offering safety to mariners throughout the centuries - offering fishing trip, or regular ferry trips out to the island of Lundy. 

The town has quite a vibey feel to it, which is helped by the Landmark Theatre. Probably the best beach is a poorly-kept secret, in the form of Tunnels Beaches - Victorian handcarved tunnels that allow access to the beach through imposing cliffs.

Of course, the town is on the North Devon coast, which means the stunning vistas introduce a slightly less welcome side effect: hills. Fortunately, NCN27 isn't overly steep as it snakes it's way out of Ilfracombe, but it will serve as an early wake-up call that cycling Devon Coast To Coast certainly involves hills!
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