The ancient town of Ottery St Mary is famous for its impressively imposing Medieval church, and unusual circular tumbling weir on the River Otter. This picturesque town has been a hub of literary inspiration for hundreds of years, most recently featuring in Harry Potter’s adventures as Ottery St Catchpole.
Situated on the edge of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, yet just a 20 minute drive from the Cathedral city of Exeter, visitors to Ottery St Mary will find there’s a huge variety of things to see and do.
The town itself boasts a ramshackle collection of excellent independent shops and eateries, and is a walker’s paradise, with almost 100 different walks to choose from, varying from level walks along the banks of River Otter where you may spot a family of otters or beavers, to hills from where you can enjoy views as far as Dartmoor on a fine day.
Nearby Wildwood at Escot offers a brilliant family day out. Set in over 200 acres of stunning parkland, here you can come face to face with some of the wildlife that used to live in Devon, including red squirrels, lynxes and wild boar. There’s also a maze, hidden playground, drop slide, indoor play barn, and Anglo Saxon village to explore.
For days out by the seaside, the coastal towns of Seaton, Beer, Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton are all just a short drive way – each offering access to the magnificent World Heritage Jurassic Coastline, with its impressive cliffs, coastal walks, fossil hunting opportunities and family-friendly beaches to enjoy.
A holiday cottage in Ottery St Mary provides a great base from which to enjoy the many and varied rural and coastal charms of East Devon and neighbouring Dorset.
A family-run business, Escot House and estate is a beautiful country house and events venue in Devon. It’s also home to the Wildwood family day out, where you can come nose-to-nose with British wildlife past and present. See red squirrels, wild boar and lynx as you make your way around the park, and explore the adventure playground with a drop slide, indoor soft play area and a maze. Prices start at £9.50 for adults, and £8.00 for children, and the fee will support Wildwood Trust's Conservation Projects.
Based in the Roncombe Valley, East Devon, the Alpacca Farm & Trekking breeds Huacaya and Suri alpacas and uses the fleece to produce beautiful clothing. They offer alpaca trekking all year along the beautiful bridleways surrounding the farm, as well as selling alpaca yarns, felt, socks, scarves and felt shoe/boot insoles. For more information, take a peek at their website!
A soft play facility in Honiton, Playdome Indoor Play has a café on site, and is a safe environment for children to play and explore. It’s perfect for kids’ parties, and is open seven days a week. Prices start at £3.90 for children aged 1-4 years, and £5.30 for those over the age of 5.
Established in 1896, Honiton Golf Club is a beautiful mature parkland course that’s relatively flat and easy to walk. That said, it still provides a challenge for ambitious players with 18 holes and lovely views in all directions. The clubhouse and bar are charming, and there’s an indoor training facility as well as coaching, a golf simulator, putting greens, pro shop, practice grounds and nets. Green fees start at £18 per day (members' guest fee) in peak season and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
Honiton is famous for its historic lace industry, and the Allhallows Museum is an homage to some of the highest quality production in the world. In Honiton’s oldest building, dating back to 1327, it features examples of 16th to early 20th century Honiton lace. The museum also incudes Honiton pottery, a mid Victorian furnished doll's house; palaeontology; children's toys; war memorabilia, mementos of Allhallows School and the Borough of Honiton; coins and trade tokens. There are children’s activities when you visit, and lace making tutorials are of course a highlight, helping to keep the craft alive for future generations. The museum is open from March to October although hours vary so keep an eye on the website. Admission is free, but it is a charity, so all donations are welcome.
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This was an amazing museum to visit -and you can try your hand at lace making --- highly recommended visit for all ages. A gem of a place...
If you like specialist charcuterie, fresh pork dishes and other tasty specialities you’re in for a treat at the Rusty Pig. This specialist charcuterie shop and restaurant is run by ex River Cottage chef Robin Rea who transforms the freshest local ingredients into mouth watering dishes.
The Rusty Pig Yonder street, Ottery Saint Mary EX11 1HD (T: 01404 815580)
By the seaside town of the same name, Sidmouth Beach is a long stretch of pebbles that stretches from the River Sid at the east of the town, West to Chit Rocks and Jacobs Ladder Beach and beyond. From the town you go over a footbridge and a number of steps down to the beach, however there are also access points along the sea front esplanade. There are a number of car parks close by, most of which are a few minutes’ walk from the beach itself, and it benefits from nearby facilities, cafes, restaurants and shops. Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 1st May to the 30th September, however there is a small area at the East end of the beach where dogs are allowed all year round. It’s a delightful spot for swimming sailing and surfing if the weather permits it, but you do have to take your own equipment.
Nestled into a valley that reaches down to the sea, Branscombe Beach is tucked away on the Jurassic Coast, and is linked to a timeless, magical village of the same name. Surrounded by woodland and farmland, the area is peppered with thatched houses, a working forge and a restored windmill. It’s a National Trust location, with a number of charming walks and trails to follow, one of which leads to the Old Bakery tearooms. The beach itself is a long pebble beach below the village. It has a large car park close by where there are toilets available, as well as a picnic area. The beach is a haven for fossil hunters and adventurous rock-poolers. If you want to catch your supper it’s a wonderful place to fish for Mackerel and Pollack, although there is also a restaurant close by.
A picturesque two mile pebble beach backed partly with cliffs, with plenty of space and lovely clean clear water. Along the esplanade there are beach cafes and a car park and it is only a short wander into the village for toilets, shops and pubs. Care should be taken swimming towards the eastern end of the beach where there can be strong currents due to the River Otter, and there are no lifeguard facilities.
A small pebble beach in East Devon, Beer Beach is in a picturesque fishing village that hugs the shoreline. Parking is a little distance away from the beach itself, which is accessed via a sloping road and steps at the east end. There’s one large car park that’s around five minutes away on foot, and another smaller one in the centre of the town. As the beach is such an integral part of the town itself, there are cafes and shops close by, simply by dint of its location. There are toilets above the beach, so it’s got all the makings of a charming day out for the family in the summer, or somewhere to stroll and have a cup of tea if it’s a bit cooler. There aren’t any organized activities on the beach, so if you’re bringing the kids then keep that in mind. Dogs are not allowed on the West part of the beach from 1st May to 30th September.
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Visited one evening. A beautiful beach. You can walk to Seaton on the coast path, if you feel energetic and don't mind a lot of steps. Well worth it due to the stunning views.
Seaton Beach is a mile long shingle beach overlooking Lyme Bay in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of East Devon. The gently sloping pebbles make this an ideal place to take a dip or try your hand at windsurfing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding with equipment easily hired on site.
An esplanade links Seaton town at one end of the beach and the popular Seaton Beach Café at the other. The South West Coast Path runs alongside the beach and a walk to the nearby picturesque village of Beer is a real treat. Dogs are welcome all year.