I’m lucky enough to live in a holiday hot spot in east Devon along the Jurassic Coast. This brings its advantages (jobs, diversity and holiday makers with money to waste) as well as it’s disadvantages (highest water rates in England, 2nd homes and city drivers not use to our narrow roads.) So I thought it would be helpful to write a post on what we, the locals would deem a good day out or place to eat as a guide to East Devon. There are the usual places, advertised in the 1000’s of leaflets adorning every pub, cafe and B&B, for a tourist visiting our little corner of Devon it’s a mine field of where to go and when.
It’s not a big area to cover but here are some of my favourites.
Days out for families
- Pecorama, in Beer, is a train enthusiast’s dream, but thats not all. Apart from the model railway museum, which kids will love, there’s a large play area which, over the last few years, has undergone lots of modernisation, a newly built indoor soft play area (which serves great coffee) stunning gardens and a ride on miniature railway. If you don’t mind hills, a trip down to the village and the beach is well worth it. Pop down to Kenno’s beach cafe for afternoon ice creams on the left of the beach, if it’s not ice cream weather then Osbourne’s coffee and wine bar do the best caramel lattes and the decor and free wifi back a perfect backdrop for a lazy, hot drink refuel.
- The Donkey Sanctuary, by Sidmouth, is charity run and more importantly free! Aside from the donkeys (obs) there are some really nice walks. You might struggle to get a whole day out of it. We like to take a late afternoon walk (there are several), my favourite is the sea bound one through a couple of donkey fields, past an old hermits hide away, where the smell of wild garlic under the trees is a full sensory experience for the kids.
- Sidmouth beach, Jacobs Ladder side. This is situated on the far right side of Sidmouth. There’s a car park nearby and you can take a walk round Connaught Gardens where you’ll find a small cafe called the Clock Tower overlooking the sea which serves huge slices of cake along with the stunning view. This beach is great any time of the year, I prefer it on not so warm days as it’s not as busy and the kids can splash around in the rock pools at low tide. Wander along the seafront into the town too as Sidmouth has some really lovely shops and ice cream bars.
- The Byes riverside walk, Sidmouth, is fab for taking a picnic, rug and footballs and just chilling while the kids let off steam. If you’re a dog walker, this is a doggie dream as they are free to run around and can cool off in the river Byes. We park the car in Sidford, there’s a small free car park by the Social Club or a pay-one behind Sidford Spar, and walk down to the town, stop off for coffee and stroll back. It’s all flat and paved so you can take bikes, skateboards, scooters, push chairs or anything else that help little or big legs cope with a walk. You can easily kill a few hours there and back with a few small bridges to stop and throw sticks in the water or sit and rest your legs.
- The Wetlands, in Seaton, is a lovely nature fuelled walk. Make your way to the hide to do some bid spotting or go pond dipping. There is usually a seasonal timetable of activities that can be found on the link.
Places to eat
- The Sea Shanty, Branscombe – park up at the village hall and walk down to the beach ( approx 20 minutes), it’s a little off road in some places so take your sling or 3 wheeler buggy if you’ve got little ones, you’ll work up an appetite en-route. The Sea Shanty is situated right on the beach and is open Weekends November to Easter and 7 days a week high season.
- The Loft, Sidmouth, we discovered this quirky restaurant completely by luck in the search for Saturday brunch. Delicious food and a warm welcome, thorough;y recommend the brunches and they do child’s portions.
- Bay View, Beer. The best cooked breakfasts in East Devon and great lunches. Grant, the manager / chef also holds Paella evenings on the beach in the summer which are advertised in the windows in Bay View.
- Steamers restaurant, Beer. For an evening meal, you can’t beat the local, quality food cooked by owner, Andy. My favourites are his scallops and bacon and Baileys creme brûlée.
- Ottertonmill, Otterton. If you’re looking for quality, then the food here is divine. I’d go on a day when it’s warm enough to sit out side though as there isn’t much indoor seating. We park up and go for a walk along the river then come back for something to eat. For kids there are spots along the way where you can paddle in the river on a warm day.
- Sidmouth has an old style cinema showing the latest releases as well as old classics.
- Pecorama Playstation is perfect for wet weather fun.
- Swimming pools at Axminster and Sidmouth have fun sessions in the afternoons with a huge inflatable and floats.
Places to stay
Aside from the big Victorian hotels in Sidmouth and a few caravan parks dotted around, this is where my knowledge is pretty limited as I don’t need to stay any where other than home but for self catering holiday cottages in Beer I can recommend the following;
- Midships is a 1st floor 2 bedroomed flat in the heart of the village with its own private parking. It’s comfortable, modern and furnished with high quality furniture and appliances, perfect for a family of 4 with older kids (age 4+)
- Hogscliff is a large terraced house perfect for a large family, just a short walk from the village and parking directly outside.
- Gulls Rest is a large, detached house over looking the village, great for a large family or 2 small families. This is a luxury 4 holiday home where the view alone is a feast for your eyes while the sauna is an added bonus!
*****This is purely my own ‘how to do East Devon as a family’ holiday guide.*****