Rapparee Cove

Rapparee Cove - Devon
© Lewis Clarke and licensed for reuse under this Licence

Tucked away on the eastern side of Ilfracombe at the foot of the high cliffs of Hillsborough is the little beach of Rapparee Cove. A small patch of sand with rocks to either side, this is a very sheltered spot from both waves and wind.

Behind the beach is a small shelter, a throwback to the cove’s Victorian heyday when Rapparee was a popular bathing beaches. Back in those days a ferry service ran from the Ilfracombe harbour to the cove, which was lined with bathing huts. Today access is a little more challenging and involves descending the steep steps which run down the cliff.

As the tide comes in the sand at Rapparee all but disappears. The beach is also in the shadow of the high cliffs for much of the day so some planning is required for a successful day at the beach.

In October 1796 the sailing ship London sank in rough seas off the cove. Nearly all of those onboard drowned and in the region of 100 bodies were buried beneath the cliffs here. The reason so many of those on board the ship died is simple - they were in chains. However, it is still not known where the victims came from with conflicting evidence that they were either slaves from St Lucia or French soldiers.

Type of beach

Sand & rock

Lifeguard service


Dogs friendly beach?

Dogs allowed

Devon dog friendly beaches »


  • Rock pooling


  • Promenade

Nearest town



EX34 9NU

OS grid ref.

SS 5284 4773

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