‘The most beautiful landscape in the world’ was how novelist Daniel Defoe described East Devon in 1724 and it is easy to see why.
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The unspoilt East Devon countryside is home to pretty seaside towns, villages, resorts and areas such as the Axe Valley, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, plus dramatic red and white cliffs which plunge down to traditional sandy beaches and sparkling blue sea.
The red cliffs are some of the oldest parts of the World Heritage Coast. The distinctive colour comes from iron in the clays and sands that once formed part of a desert in East Devon 200 to 250 million years ago.
It is also famous for its landslips which happen when erosion causes the clay to break away and slide into the sea, creating a fascinating undercliff in areas like Axmouth and Beer where the untamed wildernesses are packed full of unusual plants and wildlife.
These Devon villages are built from stone mined from Beer’s unique quarry caves, local sandstone, chert and flint, cob and thatch, plus popples which are water-smooth pebbles. The stunning landscape also shows signs of ancient settlers with Roman villas, Saxon farmsteads, prehistoric hill forts and Bronze Age burial mounds.
This part of Devon has a wealth of history to discover, including high seas’ drama and civil war rebellions. There are numerous ancient churches where visitors can soak up the rarefied atmosphere.
Stone mining was once a key industry in the area, along with lace making and the manufacture of carpets. Devon holidays have long been popular and tourism, along with dairy farming, are now the premier industries, leading to a stunning landscape that is a patchwork of green fields.
Birds like avocets and cuckoos can be spotted in the fields and estuaries, along with wild animals such as badgers and red deer.
East Devon is rightly proud of the food produced in this lush green landscape, including bacon, eggs, sausages, cream and apple juice, which can be bought in many of the local shops and at the regular farmers’ markets or sampled at the many pubs, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and cafes.
The start of the World Heritage site in Devon is marked at Orcombe Point, Exmouth by a geoneedle; a five-metre high pyramid shaped sculpture, which is made of stone from the quarries at Beer and pebbles from Budleigh Salterton. It was unveiled by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Whilst on your Devon holidays explore the area using the South West Coast Path and the East Devon Way, which offer some of the most beautiful walks in the whole country. There is also the Buzzard Cycle Route, which links the main towns through delightful coastal and inland countryside.
The coastal areas offer a wide range of water sports including windsurfing, jet skiing, boating and fishing. Swimming in Devon is of course popular and many beaches provide lifeguard cover. Dogs are welcome on many beaches, even during the summer, in clearly marked areas.
Visitors can enjoy local customs such as Ottery St Mary’s Tar Barrel Rolling. The tar is set alight and the flaming barrels carried on the shoulders of brave local men whose families have been Tar Barrellers for generations.
There are a number of activities including arts events throughout the year. The beauty of the area has always attracted writers and artists, including Poet Laureate John Betjeman who was captivated by its unique charms. Discover for yourself what drew him by visiting this beautiful part of Devon.