About Ilfracombe and Combe Martin
Two hundred years ago Ilfracombe was a fishing village and Combe Martin a mining camp. Mass tourism in the Victorian era changed all that. Admittedly, the seams of silver in the hills to the east of Combe Martin had mostly been worked out and the smelting mills, belching forth choking arsenic-laden smoke were mostly defunct. Suddenly, with the arrival of paddle steamers from South Wales and Bristol, and a railway line via Barnstaple, holidaymakers from the factories and mills of the Midlands and the North, and from the coal mines and iron works of South Wales, came to spend their holiday week in these newly created resorts on the Atlantic coast of Devon.
And now, in the 21st century these resorts, which see few arrivals by sea and none, directly, by rail, are experiencing a renaissance in tourism due to their proximity to a coastline seething with every possibly watersport you could imagine. Surfing, kayaking, coasteering, kite-boarding, scuba diving, power boat racing, shark fishing, shore angling, water-skiing, jetskiing and much more. And that's just the sea. There's the coast path and bridleways: horse riding, mountainbiking and some of the finest coastal walks in dear ol' Devon.