One of my goals this year was to start walking the South West Coast Path after reading Raynor Winn's fantastic book The Salt Path. Various stretches are accessible from Blackdown Yurts - the closest being East Devon, but you can also reach the North Devon and Somerset coastline and South Devon should you wish. We started with a beautiful circular walk from Branscombe to Beer and back, up and over the cliffs to the attractive fishing village for lunch and back along the jungly undercliff.
The National Trust has a good guide to the walk. We parked in the beachside car park in Branscombe (be aware you still need to pay for parking even if you are a NT member). You can charge yourself with a coffee at The Sea Shanty beach cafe before you tackle the hill up to Hooken Cliffs. We enjoyed watching a pair of peregrine falcons hovering and diving while hunting on the clifftop.
One way takes about an hour and a half and you can enjoy lunch in Beer at one of the three beach cafes - we all had crab sandwiches! Alternatively grab fish and chips to enjoy on the beach from the shop on Fore Street or have lunch at one of the various hostelries. The Anchor Inn's beer garden has fabulous views over the bay. If tea is more your thing Bayview tearooms are conveniently situated and on sunny days they have an ice cream cart on the pavement outside.
Forthcoming events: Beer Regatta runs from 10th to 16th August (regatta day on the 15th) and Beer Bites, a seaside food festival is on Saturday 24th August from 2pm in Jubilee Gardens.
If you weren't walking back I'd recommend buying some fish from the fishmonger at the bottom of the slope to the beach.
On the return journey shortly after Beer Head we took the path downhill into the undercliff. It is like entering another world here - you can imagine yourself in the tropics or perhaps in a game of Jumanji. A dinosaur might lumber round the corner or a pterodactyl soar overhead. This is the closest you get to imagining what the Jurassic Coast might have looked like 250 million years ago. Sandy coloured cliffs tower above you on your right, you catch glimpses of silver sea through the vegetation and the sounds of waves off to your left. The path twists and turns up and down around rocky outcrops and through dense ferny vegetation. Roots of ancient ivy crawl over stone like strangler figs over the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It really is a magical place to spend a while walking through.
If you didn't have a coffee at The Sea Shanty before leaving now is a great time to have an ice cream to reward yourself for a walk well done. And to maybe have a paddle in the ford or a swim in the sea to cool off.
We also enjoyed a gorgeous day at Sidmouth recently with lunch at the beautiful Clock Tower cafe and restaurant set in the stunning Connaught Gardens at the top of Jacob's Ladder. Their cakes and sandwiches are amazing, as are the vibrant displays of both wild and cultivated flowers.
Saturday 23rd August Sidmouth Air Show including RAF Chinook helicopters, Battle of Britain spitfire, acrobatic jets and RAF Falcons parachute display team.
Saturday 24th August Sidmouth Society of Artists will be holding an outdoor art exhibition called Art in the Park in Connaught Gardens with a ukulele orchestra for accompaniment.
We stumbled upon a new attraction near Charmouth at the start of the holidays. Tunnel Treetops is a high-ropes treetop adventure set in woodland a short hop and a skip from the coast at Charmouth. It also boasts a shooting range in an old railway tunnel - who knew that was tucked away in the East Devon countryside!? Apparently The Tunnel is the UK's premier shooting centre and was a practice rifle range for Olympic athletes in 2012!
The treetop course kept the children occupied for an hour before we went five minutes down the road to the beach for a picnic and a spot of fossil hunting. Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is free to enter and has some great hands on exhibits and Attenborough's Sea Dragon that was the subject of a recent BBC documentary. You can go on a fossil tour with them, however you are advised to book to avoid disappointment. The shop downstairs is also a treasure trove of gemstones and fossils.
Find out more
Visit our Local Beaches webpage to read more recommendations for places to visit on the East Devon coast.