Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Clovelly, England

The Sledges of Clovelly

Wooden sleds have replaced donkeys to cart goods around this utterly charming car-free village. 

You won’t find any cars zooming up and down the steep cobblestone street of this picture-perfect English fishing village. It’s pedestrian-only, meaning locals have long had to get crafty when it comes to carting their goods from place to place.

Most cottages in this delightfully cute village have large sledges (basically the British version of a sled) leaning against their whitewashed walls. People pull these huge wood and crate contraptions along the main road, which is called both Up-Along or Down-Along, depending on the direction you’re heading.

The locals typically construct their own sledges, making each one a unique part of the day to day life within this lovely village. Outside goods and supplies are trucked into the parking lot at the top of the village, then delivered to the residents and businesses that line the cobblestone street via the sledges. Garbage, too, is hauled down the hill to the harbor, where a ship awaits to ferry it away.

Before the villagers made the switch to wooden sledges, they relied on donkey power to get their items from one place to another. The braying beasts of burden schlepped heavy baskets of herring from the fishing ships docked in the harbor into the village, and also brought in supplies from outside towns. When tourists began trickling into Clovelly the donkeys also carried luggage and weary-legged visitors to the hotels.

Now, thanks to the sledges, the donkeys’ days of trucking around heavy loads are over. With the people now taking on the hard labor, they’re free to enjoy a life of leisure—though they’re still enlisted to give the occasional ride to visiting children.