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Monday, 6 October 2014

Walk 122 Seaton to Sidmouth (Devon)

Walk 122 Seaton to Sidmouth (Devon)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 192
Distance: 11 miles or 16km approx.
Difficulty: moderate
Terrain: coastal path
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: X53 or 52A bus goes between the two towns every hour or so

Leave Seaton and follow the South West Coastal Path around to Beer. Corny as it sounds, I felt that I had to have a beer in Beer and there are is a pub near the front which sells good ale. (I forgot to note its name though). The village is spread along 13 valleys. Look out for Beer Brook which runs down the side of the main street.

This area is famous for smugglers and Lace. Queen Victoria’s wedding dress was made here. Leave the village by climbing on to the cliffs that lead to Beer head. The cliffs provided shelter for a fleet of small fishing boats winched up on to the shore at night.

Continue along the cliffs for about a mile and descend the hill to Branscombe Mouth. The views of the beach, village and cliffs are stunning. The valley was carved out in the last ice age, 15000 years ago. One of the buildings, now an outlet for food and drink, is a former coal wharf and boat house. The area has been a rich source of lobsters, crabs and other seafood. The cliff tops have plenty of live stock and local farmers have produced a range of goods including beer and cheese. The Branscombe Vale Brewery is nearby. An old forge, mill and bakery in the village are owned by the National Trust and are worth a diversion inland to visit. Look out for the large anchor near the front, this is from a ship beached here in 2007. Containers were swept off the ship and treasure seekers from all over the UK descended on the beach to plunder the containers and two days of chaos ensued.

Further along the coastal path is Hooten Landslip. In 1790 about 15 million tons of sand and chalk cliff subsided in the middle of the night. The red colour of the cliffs here is evidence that they were formed when the area had hot dry deserts – similar deposits can be found in Death Valley, California.

The next notable landmark is Weston Mouth. The hamlet of Weston lies at the top of the ‘combe’ or valley created by a water course cutting through the chalk and softer sandstone of the hills. Combes are typical features of the East Devon coastline.

Continue the walk along to Dunscombe Cliffs. Much of this area is a National trust nature reserve. Some of the greyer cliffs near here were used by stone masons when building Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey.

From Salcombe Hill there is a panoramic view of Sidmouth. The River Sid comes out here. The town was fashionable long before the likes of Exmouth and Torquay and was saved from over development by the late arrival of the railway (since closed). The seafront has a number of Georgian and Regency buildings and cottage style houses. They reflect a time when fashionably dressed people strolled along the prom and hired bathing machines and sedan chairs. Sidmouth was given royal approval in 1819 when the Duke of Kent came here with his daughter Victoria – later to become queen. Many people have retired here as it is considered a healthy spot to live. The author Ronald Delderfield, who wrote ‘To serve them all my days, has a plaque indicating that he lived here.

Photos show\; Beer beach looking towards Beer Head; Branscombe; Weston Mouth; Looking eastwards at Sidmouth.

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