Things to do in Devon
East Devon has a large amount to offer throughout the year. There are a whole host of stunning beaches and it is the only World Heritage Site in England. You can sit back and enjoy the leisurely pace of life or relish some of the most breathtaking views from the South West Coast Path.
Food & Drink
There are an abundance of pubs and restaurants in this part of Devon. Click the links to find out more about more about the lovely places to eat when on holiday in East Devon.
Claire Farmer has been involved in catering for many years and started her career on sailing yachts in the Caribbean. Now based in East Devon she bases her ethos on wholesome family cooking and is passionate about using local ingredients and suppliers. From drop off suppers to canapé parties, birthday treats and special occasions she is happy to help and can supply menus on request. Prepared meals can be pre ordered and left in your freezer to make your holiday enjoyable and stress free.
Why not contact Claire to discuss your requirements.
Wild Thyme Catering
Delicious artisan cooking and catering for parties of 18 or over.
For more information please contact Tamsin Lear.
The Anchor Inn
Looking out to sea from the picturesque fishing village of Beer, this 19th century inn serves tasty food, fine wines, and good beer. In the summer, you can enjoy a hog roast or barbecue in the cliff-top beer garden whilst taking in the magnificent view out to sea.
Other Devon Restaurants
The Diggers Rest
The Maltsters Arms
Jack In the Green Inn
The River Exe Café, Exe Estuary
Le Saveurs Restaurant
Rockfish Seafood Restaurant
Ottery St Mary
The Rusty Pig
The Picnic Boat
Warren House Inn
Two Bridges Hotel
The Rock Inn
Horn of Plenty Restaurant
The Ashill Inn
Hix Oyster & Fish House
The Cobb Arms
The lazy Toad
Towns & Beaches
185 million years of history to explore on the East Devon’s Jurassic coastline, recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. From the white sands of Exmouth and the red cliffs of Beer to the fossilised rocks of Charmouth this coastline offers something for everyone. Numerous valleys dotted with idyllic villages cut through the East Devon countryside to the coast, providing numerous walking and cycling paths and a chance to see some spectacular wildlife.
Pebblebed holiday cottages are ideally located to access beaches and towns along the stunning East Devon coast and beyond.
Sidmouth is an elegant Regency seaside town surrounded by rolling hills, golden fields and the steep red cliffs of the Jurassic coastline.
There are many events on throughout the year with the highlight being Sidmouth Folk Week during August. The town comes alive with music and folklore and this is an event you won’t want to miss!
Take a stroll along the seafront and breathe in the sea air with a backdrop of listed buildings… Enjoy a Devon cream tea or ice cream from a local creamery… Climb the steep steps of Jacobs Ladder to walk around the award-winning Connaught Gardens… Hike along the cliffs or drive up Peak Hill through a magnificent avenue of trees for an unforgettable view across the sea towards the South Hams and the English Riviera, and Dartmoor and Mid-Devon to the west. Behind you will be the prehistoric Mutters Moor, one of the earliest Neolithic settlements in southern Britain. There are walks, history and beautiful scenery everywhere.
A beautiful gently curving pebble beach with clean calm waters. An impressive headland with magnificent red cliffs stands steeped in geological history. The pretty town makes for a leisurely stroll, with many interesting shops selling local produce, as well as some impressive listed buildings, including the thatched Fairlynch Museum.
Famous for its smuggling history, this cove is home to an array of fishing boats bringing in regular catches to be sold at both the fresh fish hut on the beach as well as featuring on the menus of many of the restaurants in the town. If you fancy catching your own, there are regular mackerel fishing boat trips where you are guaranteed at least a few fish on the line – great on the beach barbecue! The winding streets of the village itself play host to a range of galleries and art houses featuring work by local artists and designers.
See the Events section for Beer Regatta, held in August every year, a great fun family event.
Featuring on many a postcard with its thatched cottages and hanging baskets, this village (believed to be the longest in country) really is picture postcard. Follow the spectacular valley down to meet an expanse of gently rolling pebble beach. Well worth a visit are the many historic but still working buildings, such as the old bakery, the working forge (the only one left in England), as well as a thatched smithy dating back to Norman times.
The oldest seaside town in Devon, Exmouth boasts two miles of sandy beach, and is the gateway to the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.
Explore the town by following the Blue Plaque Trail available from Exmouth TIC to places of interest including Nelson House.
A visit to the World of Country Life at Sandy Bay is a great all-weather attraction with lots of animals, rides, play areas, and a Victorian street.
Take a Jurassic Coast trip with Stuart Line Cuises. They also offer bird-watching cruises as the mudflats and grazing marshes of the Exe estuary attract a huge variety of birdlife.
Teignmouth & Shaldon
A long sandy beach with clear waters, this traditional British seaside resort has many attractions to entertain the children, including donkey rides on the sand. Take a stroll along the Victorian Grand Pier, or take the passenger ferry over to the pretty village of Shaldon where you can enjoy lunch overlooking the water. The Ship Inn, to be found in the Teignmouth town overlooking the estuary, provides another taste of the sea.
Lyme Regis & Charmouth
Travel east for half an hour into Dorset and you will discover the wonderfully unspoilt historic town and fishing port of Lyme Regis. With its impressive Cobb harbour, numerous fresh fish restaurants, pretty gift shops, art galleries and mill, you will find lots to fill a day.
Children will enjoy searching for fossils on the pebble beach to the west of the town, or a car trip further down the coast to Charmouth where even the most amateur fossil hunter can be sure to leave with something from the Jurassic age.
Situated only three miles from Dartmouth, Blackpool Sands is set in a sheltered bay surrounded by evergreens and pines. It is one of South Devon’s most beautiful natural treasures, an award-winning privately managed family beach with turquoise-blue sea giving it an almost Mediterranean feel. Facilities include a beach café and shop, plus surf-ski, kayak, boogie boards, wetsuit and snorkel hire.
Sports & Activites
East Devon has lots more to offer in addition to beautiful beaches including stunning countryside and coastal walks, cycling, horse riding, golf, swimming, sailing, fishing and lots more.
Click the links to find out more about what fun things you can do whilst on holiday in East Devon or visit www.exploredevon.info.
You can take a walk along the banks of this river from Tipton St John. The river flows south-westerly, passing through villages and towns including Honiton and Ottery St Mary before reaching the sea at Budleigh Salterton.
Large stretches of the river are of environmental importance. The estuary is a nature reserve managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust. It’s a special site of scientific interest (SSSI). Due to conservation efforts over recent years, otters can once again occasionally be spotted in the river.
A thirty minute drive from Venn Ottery will take you to the high moorland of Dartmoor National Park. From here there are various walking trails with spectacular views over to the coast. Explore ancients ruins, climb to the top of Hay Tor and walk amongst the wild moorland ponies. The website www.dartmoor.co.uk is an excellent source of information on things to do on Dartmoor. Fingle Bridge, Postbridge, Ashburton and Okehampton are all great places to start various circular walks.
Southwest Coast Path
You are able to pick this up at most of the beaches along the coast in either direction. Each of the long distance walks can be done in shorter sections, and are well served by public transport links.
If you fancy a circular walk with spectacular views, start at Branscombe beach car park, and take the steep path up and over the cliff top towards Beer. Once at the headland with Beer down to the left, a stile situated on the right will take you back down along the cliff edge and via a tree lined path, where you have the option of taking a left fork back down to the beach, and back to the car park. This walk is very steep at the beginning and has some steep drops on the return journey, but is well worth the effort.
From Budleigh Salterton, the coastal path will take you up and over to Orcombe Point at Exmouth. You will see the Geoneedle marking the western boundary of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which stretches back the way you have come all the way to Dorset. The rocks here are from the Triassic period and are over 250 million years old.
The historic quayside is a ten-minute walk from the Cathedral and is the ideal place to try an irresistible Devon cream tea. Take a leisurely stroll along the River Exe, or for a longer walk head to the Double Locks pub for lunch. Exeter shipping canal is one of the oldest in the country, and the Double Locks are the longest, housing two ships at a time.
There are also plenty of other activities to get involved in, from rafting or hiring a pedalo, to canoeing or cycling from this very point.
East Hill Strips (woodland walks)
Travel by car to the centre of Ottery St Mary and take the second exit out of The Square along Yonder Street for about two miles as the road winds up a steep hill. Upon reaching the top, follow the signpost right to East Hill Strips. At the end of this tree-lined road is a car park where you can first take in the stunning view over the valley, and then walk through the woods as far as Beacon Hill which looks out to the coastline at Sidmouth.
You can take advantage of the many quiet lanes from your doorstep or cycle one of the many routes through and around Exeter. Parking at the Quay in Exeter will allow you to join the Exe Estuary trail linking Exeter to the coast at Dawlish and Exmouth. Bikes can also be hired here from Saddles and Paddles along the quayside. Haldon Forest Park near Exeter has purpose built trails for all cycling abilities.
Mackerel fishing trips run regularly in the summer months from Beer beach. From here you can also hire your own boat to explore the bay. For a gentle paddle exploring the canal, canoes can be hired from Exeter Quayside.
There are also a number of outdoor pools within a short drive of Burrows and Apple Mill. These include Bovey Tracey and Teignmouth, with the nearest one being in the pretty town of Topsham, twenty minutes away.
If it’s seaside swimming you’re after, you really are spoilt for choice. Exmouth boasts an expanse of sand and shallow waters. Sidmouth has a pebble beach but the waves lap at a sandy shore as the tide goes out. As with many beaches there are certain areas that are unsafe to swim, with strong rip currents. If lifeguards are on duty you should observe the red and yellow flags and ensure you swim between them. Please go to www.goodbeachguide.co.uk for more information on water safety.
If you would like to take a hack or riding lesson there are a number of very good riding schools nearby. For a hack up over Woodbury Common with views down to the sea, visit the stables at Budleigh Salterton. They also have a lovely timber-frame tearoom where you can enjoy a piece of cake and watch riders training. Or join a hack from Sidmouth Riding and climb the steep hill up to the woods at East Hill for a spectacular view over the Otter Valley and the coastline at Sidmouth.
Devonish Pitt near Honiton offers hacks through the local countryside and pretty villages nearby. There are also a number of stables dotted throughout Dartmoor with Eastlake Stables at Okehampton and Shilstone Rocks at Widecombe-in-the-Moor being just two to offer both group and individual riding at all levels.
You can take advantage of our membership to Woodbury Park Golf and Country Club situated in 550 acres of idyllic Devon countryside, where you can play the nine hole Acorn course or 18 hole Championship course, along perfectly manicured greens. Lessons are available.
Topsham to Turf Ferry
Take a relaxing day out on the scenic River Exe. Cruise across the estuary from Topsham to the delightful Turf Locks Inn. Take in spectacular river views and wonderful wildlife. Half hour round trip or stop off and explore the other side. Family run pub offering great food, wines, beers and ales. Pirate ship and play area in garden for the kids. Picturesque river and canal-side walks. Cyclists are welcome. Cycle the Exe Estuary Cycle Route.
The Sea Dream II ferry runs hourly throughout the summer. Return on whichever boat suits you.
See www.topshamtoturfferry.co.uk for sailing times.
AS Watersports are based on the River Exe and offer Canoe, Sit on top kayak and Stand Up Paddle board hire as well as well tuition for those that want to start Canoeing and kayaking, improve their skills, learn to roll or just have a fun day on the water.
For more information visit their website.
Edge Watersports offer Kitesurfing and Stand up Paddle boarding tuition at the mouth of the Exe Estuary. The family owned company, team-bridge hold multiple world & national titles in kite racing and freestyle and have a hands on approach to the Exmouth based shop & school- Edge. Assisted by British Freestyle champion and big air specialist- Ned Taylor the team all share the same passion – to ensure you get the best advice, service and coaching in your chosen sport.
For more information visit their website.
Exe Wake offer waterskiing, wakeboarding and inflatable rides on the River Exe, whether it be for learning, improving or simply a Hen Do.
For more information visit their website.
Exmouth sailing school
Sail Exmouth Sailing School offer sailing tuition on the River Exe. For more information visit their website.
There is so much to see and do when on holiday in Devon with children. Even if it rains, you will still have a great day out.
Click the links to find out more about what East Devon has to offer.
Bicton Botanical Gardens
These gardens, listed as Grade 1 by English Heritage, are home to rare and beautiful species of plants and trees from around the world. With a glasshouse, shell house, lake, woodland train ride, indoor and outdoor kids’ play areas, maze, crazy golf, gift shop and orangery restaurant, you will find enough to do here to fill a whole day. Throughout the summer months there are also regular pantomimes and concerts – take a picnic along for ‘Jazz in the Park’.
See www.bictongardens.co.uk for more information.
Escot Gardens & Forest Adventure
Set in the Otter Valley near Ottery St Mary, Escot House and its grounds are set up to provide stimulating and educational facilities for all ages. Here in 220 acres of parkland you’ll find an ark-full of animals with paths, trails and vistas. Feed the otters, stroll among the peacocks, get lost in the huge maze, take a daredevil trip down the drop slide or play amongst the adventure playgrounds set up within a natural woodland setting.
Stop for refreshment at the Coach House Restaurant or picnic on the grounds while watching the birds of prey display. With an indoor play area to escape any showers, this is a very special day out with the family. Throughout the summer there are a number of events held, the biggest of which is the Beautiful Days Festival in August.
Indoor soft play area with four-metre astra and drop slides, toddler areas with ball pool and cafe for the adults; this is a local place to escape from the rain for a few hours and tire those kids out.
Unit 1, Gloucester Crescent, Heathpark Industrial Estate, Honiton, Devon EX14 1DB
Colyton Tram & Wandering Wagon
Seaton Tramway operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in East Devon’s glorious Axe Valley, travelling alongside the River Axe estuary through two nature reserves and giving an unrivalled view of the abundant wading bird life. Plan your day by starting at Colyton Station and taking the tram to Seaton for a seaside lunch, then back to Colyton where you can board ‘The Wandering Wagon’, a horse drawn carriage which will take you around the pretty town of Colyton. You may want to stop off for a cream tea!
With its central loction and impressive gothic architecture, this is a must see whilst in Exeter.
Exeter Underground Passages
Visit 14th century underground passages that stretch under the city’s streets.
Phone: 01392 665887
Go Ape - Haldon Forest
Dare yourself to climb the 30-foot rope ladder, zip wire through the hilltops, and test your nerve with hours of treetop adventure. Children must be over ten.
Miniature Pony Centre
The Donkey Sanctuary
This charity has been providing a home to rescued donkeys from around the world for forty years. Entry is free, and with a lovely café and gift shop it is well worth a visit. This charity does, however, rely on your donations to carry on its good work.
This is a holiday with a difference – a chance for you to have close contact with the donkeys in glorious settings – you can groom, cuddle or just sit and watch the donkeys.
National Trust Properties
There are a number of houses and castles within a short drive of here. Each venue holds a regular programme of events throughout the year, from musical concerts and children’s entertainers to historical tours and events designed to take you back in time.
Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk for information on any of these properties:
- Killerton House
- Castle Drogo
- Powderham Castle
- Haldon Belvedere
- Okehampton Castle
East Devon villages and towns have a tradition of keeping busy and we’ve put some of the best known events here for you to explore. Some of them are frankly incredible to watch, like the Ottery Tar Barrels on November 5th, while others celebrate our history of music and sailing in Folk Festivals and sailing Regattas. Whatever you fancy doing, we can guarantee you’ll find something on in East Devon for you to enjoy.
Beautiful Days Festival
Beautiful Days has several stages, a seated Theatre Tent, site art installations, Wild Spa, Crafts Area, a huge Children’s Area, walkabout theatre, play zones, family camping, real ale bars from Otter Brewery, Folk Sessions, Healing Garden and a vast selection of carefully chosen food and craft stalls.
Visit www.beautifuldays.org for more information.
Sidmouth Folk Festival
This week-long seaside festival of music, dance and song has been one of the biggest annual events in East Devon since 1955. It usually takes place in the first week of August, and there is something for everyone, young and old – rising stars and established entertainers; major concerts and energetic ceilidhs, intimate folk sessions, storytelling, arts and crafts, dancers and street performers from around the world.
Visit www.sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk for more information.
Visit beerregatta.co.uk for more information.
Christmas Day Swims
Watch the annual Budleigh Salterton Christmas Day Swim, or if you’re feeling brave take the plunge yourselves!
Neighbouring Exmouth also hosts a Christmas Day swim, with thousands turning up to watch or take part. In 2019, this event starts at 11am on the beach by the clock tower.
Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels
Every year on the 5th of November, for reasons lost in antiquity, the Flaming Tar Barrels are carried through the streets of Ottery St Mary to the delight of thousands of townsfolk and visitors.
Ottery St. Mary is internationally renowned for its Tar Barrels, an old custom said to have originated in the 17th century, and is held each year. Each of Ottery’s central public houses sponsors a single barrel. In the weeks prior to the day of the event, November 5th, the barrels are soaked with tar. The barrels are lit outside each of the pubs in turn and once the flames begin to pour out, they are hoisted up onto local people’s backs and shoulders.
Exeter Food & Drink Festival
Since 2001 the Festival has established itself as a vital part of life in Exeter and the South West, celebrating our rich food culture while bringing together local producers, the region’s best chefs, and of course you, the food loving public.
East Devon is full of independent shops, artists and local farm shops producing and selling a wonderful array of produce. We even have our own vineyards in this part of the world. It’s worth mentioning that both Darts Farm and Greendales Farm Shops have well stocked delis, bakeries, in-house fish mongers and butchers. They both do excellent take away fish and chips, too!
Local Organic Produce Stores
Pynes Farm Shop Budleigh EX9 7AY
Darts Farm Topsham EX3 0QH
Joshua’s Harvest Store Ottery St Mary EX11 1NU
Local General Stores
Tipton St John Village Shop EX11 1BZ (1 mile)
Newton Poppleford Village Shop EX10 0ES (1.2 miles)
Knights Farm Shop Fluxton EX11 1RJ (1.6 miles)
Potters Village Shop & Post Office West Hill EX11 1TY (1.7 miles)
Greendale Farm Shop EX5 2JU
Waitrose Sidmouth EX10 9GA
Sainsbury’s Ottery St Mary EX11 1BW
Lidl Sidmouth EX10 9UU
Tesco Exeter EX2 7EZ
Salcombe (53 miles)
Exeter (15 miles)
Darts Farm Topsham EX3 0QH (9 miles)
Topsham (10 miles)
Sidmouth (5 miles)
Lyme Regis (18 miles)
Budleigh Salterton (6 miles)