East Devon and the Jurassic Coast - When and where to visit


Suggested places to base yourself

The places listed below make ideal bases for exploring East Devon and the Jurassic Coast.

Branscombe East Devon UK Tony Cobley Heart of Devon ImagesBranscombe is a perfect base for exploring the area © Tony Cobley, Heart of Devon Images

Bickleigh

Mid Devon is undeservedly neglected by visitors. Walk by the River Exe or take a horse-drawn barge trip on the canal. Or immerse yourself in local history at the Tiverton Museum.

Topsham

The foodie capital of East Devon. A short train ride to Exeter but terric birdwatching as well on the estuary.

East Budleigh

An enchanting village of thatched cottages with an art gallery of a church. Budleigh Salterton, with its culture and new beach, is a few miles downriver.

The Blackdown Hills

Yurts, tree houses and safari tents are among the quirky places to stay in this peaceful part of the county. Bring your bike or walking boots.

Rousdon 

A Victorian benefactor’s estate set in acres of parkland midway between Lyme Regis and Seaton, so perfect for fossil hunters or for visiting the new Seaton Jurassic centre.

Branscombe

An exceptionally pretty village with a spacious beach nearby and numerous walk options. Gets busy in the holiday season.

Getting there and around

Active East Devon

I was pleasantly surprised to meet a young, alarmingly fit-looking chap who said he’d moved to Seaton because of the wealth of outdoor pursuits available: running and cycling clubs, canoeing and kayaking, kitesurfing… Another fellow joined us and told me that Lyme Bay was the best place in the UK for sailing. And the image of Seaton is of a retirement town! Here are some of the ways to burn off your excess energy. 

Exe Estuary Trail East Devon UK by Tony Cobley Heart of Devon ImagesThe Exe Estuary Trail is great for both cyclists and walkers alike © Tony Cobley, Heart of Devon Images

Cycling

Cyclists are spoilt for choice. The quiet lanes of East Devon and the Blackdown Hills are perfect for cycling, and there are some dedicated cycle paths described in the relevant chapters. Standing out among these is the Exe Estuary Trail (part of NCN Route 2, page 33): it provides 26 miles of largely traffic-free cycling down both sides of the estuary from Exeter to Exmouth and Dawlish, with a ferry crossing between Exmouth and Starcross if necessary.

Walking

Around Exeter and the estuary are some good river strolls. More excitingly, the East Devon Way and 30 miles of the South West Coast Path (SWCP) both traverse the region, making a long circular trip of almost 70 miles. Sections of these trails and other walks are covered under their specific areas. If you do only one walk in East Devon make it the Otter.

Horseriding

The many bridle paths and wide spaces of the heathlands are tempting for anyone who prefers to explore the countryside on someone else’s legs. There are riding schools at Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Branscombe, the Coly Valley and Hawkchurch. Some of these places offer accommodation – B&B or self-catering – allowing you to immerse yourself in horsey Devon. 

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