Things to do in East Devon whilst staying at Combe House Hotel.
Our hotel is located just 8 miles from the coast and 15 miles from the city of Exeter, making you perfectly placed to explore the whole of the area.
Exeter is fantastic for shopping and eating out, with its magnificent cathedral, museum and cinemas all well worth a visit. Sidmouth beach boasts both sand and pebbles, with rock pools for the kids and a pretty regency town with cobbled streets and historic buildings. Sidmouth Folk Festival comes to town early August, bringing entertainment for all ages. If you prefer a sandy beach, Exmouth is also very nearby. The golden beach is two miles long and great for swimming and water sports.
A little further afield are Beer and Branscombe, both stunning villages with a fishing heritage and beautiful pebbly beaches. Hire a boat and catch some mackerel, or walk the spectacular South West Coastal Path between the two bays.
Our hotel is also within easy reach of Exeter International Airport.
The beaches listed here have disabled access, toilets, parking nearby and refreshments. Some provide lifeguards and many offer water sports, boating, fishing and swimming. Dogs are welcome on some but check locally before you take yours along as restrictions may apply. In summer clearly marked areas on most beaches can be accessed.
Exmouth: Two-mile sandy beach, watersports, boat trips, beach hut, deck chair hire.
Budleigh Salterton: Two-mile quiet, uncrowded pebble beach, beach hut hire.
Ladram Bay: Small shingle beach, boat, deckchair hire.
Sidmouth Jacob's Ladder: Mile-long sand and pebble beach, beach hut, deckchair hire.
Sidmouth Town Beach: Mile-long sand and pebbles, watersports, boat trips, deckchair hire.
Branscombe: Two-mile quiet, uncrowded, pebble beach, motor boat hire. Private car park.
Beer: Pebble beach, boat trips, beach hut, deckchair hire, fishing trips.
Seaton: Mile-long pebble beach, beach hut, deckchair hire.
Local Towns & Villages
Exeter is full of heritage and culture, such as the magnificent Gothic Cathedral and medieval Underground Passages. The city’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum has just reopened after a multi-million pound development programme. Visitors can learn more about its history with Red Coat guided walking tour around the City. The Historic Quayside is a hub of activity with bars, cafes, bike and canoe hire, galleries and antique shops housed in the old warehouses. Finally Exeter has an abundance of independents shops as well many High Street and designer names.
Honiton is a pretty market town, it became particularly prosperous in the 17th century largely due to its lace making industry which was favoured by ladies of the aristocracy, who would send for it from London. In recent years, the town has become well known for its antiques and second-hand bookshops, with those-in-the-know visiting to find treasures in one of the many antique shops and auction houses. Set between two areas of ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty’, the Jurassic Coast and the Blackdown Hills, Honiton’s views were once described by writer Daniel Defoe as ‘The most beautiful landscape in the world’.
Sidmouth is a fine regency town, the quintessential English seaside resort. Beautiful gardens and leisurely walks, Regency history and fine hotels, clean beaches and friendly shops…. it’s all here in this lovely seaside town that nestles beneath majestic red cliffs and the green hills of the glorious Sid Valley.
Exmouth is a family resort with a 2 mile long sandy beach. The beach is excellent for the family to swim and play or just to relax, or enjoy its many activities, including top quality water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Sand dunes and rock pools and plenty of sea front attractions will keep everyone entertained for hours. Exmouth is a lively town with a diverse selection of shops, places to eat, things to do and an internationally-acclaimed nature reserve.
Budleigh Salterton is a small coastal town 8 miles from Alpine Park. It is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Budleigh lies at the mouth of the River Otter, where the estuary forms an area of reed bed and grazing marsh, an important haven for migratory birds and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Budleigh Salterton has a beautiful, unspoilt pebble beach full of old fashioned charm, wooden beach huts and small fishing boats. This pretty, sheltered beach is ideal for swimming and fishing, and the perfect spot to enjoy a family barbeque. There are a number of small independent shops, restaurants, pubs, traditional tea rooms and a gallery, as well as the Fairlynch Museum.
Budleigh Literary Festival 18-21 Sept 2014
Otterton is a very pretty village lined with thatched cottages. Otterton Mill is a must visit with a fantastic bakery, café, gallery and popular live music evenings. A great starting point for a walk along the River Otter to the sea at Budleigh Salterton.
Otterton Mill | www.ottertonmill.com
Ottery St Mary
Set in the beautiful Otter Valley, Ottery St Mary is one of the south west’s oldest towns with many historical buildings. St Mary’s Parish Church was built in 1337, and is a scaled down version of Exeter Cathedral. The town is also the birthplace of poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge who was born in the town in 1772. The town’s good selection of family run businesses are worth exploring along with the popular Otter Nurseries located just on the outskirts of town.
Branscombe is one of the most picturesque of East Devon's many villages. Believed to be the longest village in the country, it sweeps down along a spectacular valley, past colourful cottages down to the sea. There are pretty rows of thatched cottages with hanging baskets and climbing roses, a picturesque Dovery and a church with one of the most inspiring views in the county.
Beer is a picturesque fishing village with a colourful population of fishing boats, fresh fish for sale and mackerel trips. Beer Stone was first quarried by the Romans and was used in the building of Exeter’s Cathedral. Today visitors can take a guided tour around Beer Quarry Caves.
Family Attractions & Activities
East Devon has everything you need for the perfect family holiday - the Great Outdoors! Beautiful beaches for sandcastles, swimming, sand dune jumping, rock pooling and pebble building. The Commons to roam and explore. Rivers to paddle in, fish and get muddy. Off-road cycle tracks for the whole family to enjoy as well as the lovely outdoor swimming pool at Topsham open during the summer months. But most of all, plenty of fresh air!
If that isn’t enough, there are also plenty of family attractions for you to enjoy whatever the weather. Here are some of our recommendations:
Crealy Adventure Theme Park Devon | www.crealy.co.uk
Go Ape at Haldon Forest | www.goape.co.uk
Escot | www.escot-devon.co.uk
Play Dome Honiton | www.theplaydome.com
World of Country Life | www.worldofcountrylife.co.uk
Bicton Botanical Gardens | www.bictongardens.co.uk
Donkey Sanctuary | www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Saddles and Paddles | www.saddlepaddle.co.uk
Also see information below on other activities and sports.
Unfortunately at Combe House Hotel we do not have a swimming pool, however should you fancy a swim you can easily visit one of the many swimming pools in the area. And for when the temperature is really high and you don’t want to go into the sea, try the outdoor pool at Topsham.
Topsham Outdoor Pool | www.topshampool.com
Exmouth and Sidmouth Swimming Pools | www.ledleisure.co.uk
The Exe Estuary Trail cyclepath and walkway, when completed, will run around the entire Exe Estuary linking Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Exeter and Dawlish. The route itself is fairly flat and takes in the most fantastic views along the River Exe with lots to see and do along the way.
For the hardcore mountain bikers who prefer muddy trails and challenging routes, then Woodbury Common just up the road and Haldon Hill near Exeter are great!
You can hire bikes locally if you haven’t brought your own, take a look at these links for details and prices.
The Exe Trail - Devon Cycling Path | www.exetrail.co.uk
Exmouth Cycle Hire | www.exmouthcyclehire.com
Knobblies Cycle hire | www.knobbliesbikes.co.uk
Budleigh Salterton Riding School provides lessons, hacks, treks, riding courses and pony days. They are situated just on the other side of Woodbury Common within easy reach of Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Exeter, an ideal location for country rides over heathland with spectacular views of the Jurassic coastline. The riding school also has two large all-weather menages with jumping facilities for riding lessons. All standards and ages of rider are welcome, from complete beginners to those with a lifetime of experience.
Budleigh Riding School | www.devonriding.co.uk
East Devon Golf Club is situated on the cliff top above Budleigh Salterton, at the western end of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. The Club commands magnificent views along the coast, on a clear day Berry Head is visible to the south west and to the east the high point of the distant Portland Bill in Dorset can be seen 35 miles away. East Devon Golf Club is regarded by many as one of the finest courses in the South West and is well reviewed in the Top 100 Golf Courses of the British Isles.
You also have Sidmouth Golf Club situated in the natural beauty of the Sid Valley and Woodbury Park Golf & Country Club nearby.
East Devon Golf Club | www.edgc.co.uk
Sidmouth Golf Club | www.sidmouthgolfclub.co.uk
Exe Wake in Exmouth is Devon's leading centre for wakeboarding and waterskiing. They cater for all levels and ages so don't worry if you have never tried wakeboarding or waterskiing before - with their qualified team you will be on your feet in no time!
Edge Water Sports in Exmouth is run by a team of unique 'water-people' passionate & knowledgeable about all aspects of training & equipment. They offer kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, power kites and kayaking lessons and equipment to hire or buy.
Exe Wake - Wakeboarding Devon | exewake.com
Kitesurfing, Windsurfing and Watersports Equipment and Gear | www.edgewatersports.com
Sea fishing on Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth beaches are very popular which, depending on the season, are great for catching Mackerel and Bass, or take a deep sea fishing trip from Exmouth. Why not hire a self-drive boat at Beer and try your luck with your fishing lines!
A coarse fishery at Upham Farm enjoys an excellent national reputation for providing superb carp and tench fishing for all types of anglers, from beginners of all ages to seasoned professionals. They have six well stocked spring fed ponds sited in a gentle sloping valley surrounded by farmland amid the pictureque East Devon countryside.
Upham Farm Fishing | www.uphamfarm.com
Devon is wonderful for walkers of all levels offering stunning country and coastal walks to suit everyone. The coast here is magnificent, and you can combine a walk along the top of the cliffs with a riverside stroll along the River Otter - which is a haven for thousands and thousands of birds. Why not stop off at Otterton Mill for one of their cream teas!
Woodbury Common is just a short drive up the road from Alpine Park with it’s adjacent heaths and offers some of the finest inland walking to be found in the East Devon area. Paths criss-cross the various commons and it's easy to make up your own route as you go. For an easy going suggested walk of four and a half miles, try the Woodbury Common Walks link below.
The South West Coast Path runs all the way round from Minehead in Somerset on the north coast to South Haven Point near Poole in Dorset on the south and includes all 95 miles of the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site, The Jurassic Coast, where fossils can be found dating back to prehistoric times. As well as the views, the path also boasts some fantastic flowers and wildlife - May is a good time to see the coastal flowers at their best. Seabirds are also highly visible, as well as other bird life.
Woodbury Common walks | www.westcountrywalks.com
Jurassic Coast | www.jurassiccoast.com
South West Coast Path | www.southwestcoastpath.com
Pebblebed Heaths | www.pebblebedheaths.org.uk
Bird Watching and Nature Reserves
Here are just a few...
Otter Estuary Nature Reserve
This reserve lies just to the east of Budleigh Salterton and contains the whole of the estuary of the river Otter, together with a small adjacent area of reed bed and grazing marsh. The estuary has more Saltmarsh vegetation than any other in Devon and, together with the tidal mudflats, provides an important feeding and resting area for over-wintering birds.
Seaton Marshes: East Devon District Council Local Nature Reserve
Seaton Marshes is a freshwater grazing marsh, with scrapes, ditches and ponds that attract considerable wildlife interest, from wildfowl and wading birds in the winter to dragonflies and butterflies in the summer. A large area of wetland and marsh, Seaton is a honeypot for birdlife, especially in the autumn and winter months. There is a bird hide on the reserve taking in breathtaking views of the Axe estuary.
Exmouth Local Nature Reserve
Exmouth Local Nature Reserve is a massive area of tidal sand and mud at the southern end of the Exe estuary – in fact, it’s one of the biggest Local Nature Reserves in Devon. It's also a globally important area for winter birds. In the autumn thousands of birds fly from the freezing Arctic to spend the winter months on the estuary, one of Devon’s most impressive natural spectacles. Dark-bellied brent geese make their way to this place every year in September and during the winter months, other wildfowl crowd into the estuary to feed - look out for huge flocks of widgeon and graceful pintail ducks. Walking out over the sandbanks at low water offers you the chance to get away from the town and explore a wilderness in the middle of the estuary.
More info here East Devon Nature Reserves | www.eastdevon.gov.uk/local_nature_reserves
RSPB Avocet Cruises
A few years ago, you would have been lucky to spot avocets anywhere, but today they're a conservation success story. With their black-and-white plumage, and our slender, curved bills, you can't miss them on the Exe Estuary in winter, especially as they often get together in flocks of up to 500, sweeping the mud in search of tasty morsels!
Every winter, over 40,000 birds, including hundreds of black-tailed godwits, Brent geese and red-breasted mergansers, flock to the Exe Estuary from as far afield as Siberia and Greenland. Also keep an eye out for the grey seals!
Join friendly guides onboard an avocet cruise to experience one of nature's most beautiful spectacles, on one of the world's great wetlands. Full cruises depart from Exmouth or Starcross and last for approximately 3-4 hours. The mini cruises depart from Topsham and last approximately 1.5 hours. Advance booking is essential for all cruises. For more info:
RSPB | www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnaturewww.eastdevon.gov.uk/local_nature_reserves
RSPB Bowling Green Marsh | www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/b/bowlinggreenmarsh
Out & About in Devon and the South West
Days Out you will always remember
Combe House Hotel, Gittisham, near Exeter, Devon
somewhere different, somewhere special