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Explore exceptional East Devon this autumn and winter

East Devon has plenty to offer, and we’ve listed some of the best places you need to visit.

By LLM Reporters  |  November 21, 2021
Aerial View Of Bigbury Beach In Devon

Exceptional East Devon is a beautiful and diverse part of the country which is crying out to be explored this autumn and winter.

All landscapes have something to offer, but few have quite as much – or are as varied – as East Devon. With two-thirds of its territory located in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a coastline featuring the first natural World Heritage Site in England, East Devon’s natural capital is one of its most treasured assets.

When tourists flock further west to Cornwall, for example, they are lured by thoughts of wide surfing beaches, cosy coves and picturesque fishing villages, but that’s a fairly limited list compared to what is on offer in beautiful East Devon. As well as all the wonderful places scenically to visit, it is also an incredible destination for its food and drink. 

Michael Caines, renowned chef and owner of Michelin starred Lympstone Manor, said: “East Devon is an outstanding part of the world, full of amazing ingredients. There’s a huge amount of talent and passion in places such as Darts Farm, THE PIG and River Cottage. We are all building on our local identity and sharing the same philosophy from fork to plate.

“It’s important to us that guests experience something unique in our businesses. As unique as the vegetables growing in the garden, or the pig that’s farmed down the road or the cattle grazing in the pastures. These are all symbiotic with what we are trying to highlight here in East Devon. Food and drink is such an important part of our economy – tourism, farming and food production are really important – and these things attract people to the area to spend their money here.”

There are a host of incredible places to stay, eat and discover, so read on to find out more. 

Unearthing the edible legacy of East Devon

Darts Farm
There’s a huge amount of talent and passion in places such as Darts Farm, THE PIG and River Cottage

With such a diverse sense of place; there’s a concentrated food and drink scene found across East Devon. Fishing and farming has shaped the character of the region, as does its unique microclimate. The coastline wrapping around the South West has the highest annual mean temperature of any sea area near to the UK and with the region’s undulating hills and sea breezes, the terroir lends itself to lush green pastures, ancient orchards and healthy crops.  

There’s a wide range of outstanding food and drink to try, including these highlights below.

Ebb Tides seaweed

Dulse, kelp, sargassum and laver are just a few of the varieties of seaweed hand-harvested from the shores along the craggy Jurassic Coast. Perfect for garnishing soups, scrambled eggs, salads and fish, seaweed gives a unique umami flavour and can be used as a seasoning just like salt and pepper. Supporting Ebb Tides contributes towards preserving the coastline of East Devon as their Natural England license ensures the seaweed is hand harvested both sustainably and ethically.

LittlePod
LittlePod manufactures high quality vanilla paste, along with coffee and chocolate extract

LittlePod Vanilla

The village of Farringdon is an unsuspecting location for a vanilla pod processing factory, but this is where LittlePod manufactures high quality vanilla paste, along with coffee and chocolate extracts. With the majority of vanilla flavourings found on supermarket shelves being a synthetic copy, the plight of real vanilla is real. Each LittlePod vanilla product bought supports their tireless campaign behind real vanilla – a bid to save this tropical spice (and the communities who farm it) before it becomes extinct.

Good Game Charcuterie

Standing up against the most authentic in global awards, Topsham-based Good Game have produced a vast range of charcuterie using traditional methods, from nduja sausage to pastrami. Co-directors Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay believe the secret to fantastic charcuterie is starting with exceptional pigs that have grown slowly with plenty of space to roam. With slow growth, there’s more fat, which produces a more delicious product. Everything is handmade and cured with nothing but salt and air.

Two Drifters is battling climate change one bottle of rum at a time

Two Drifters Distillery 

The world’s first carbon-negative distillery, Two Drifters is battling climate change one bottle of rum at a time. Based near Exeter Airport, Two Drifters Distillery have avoided 35.29 tonnes of carbon, whilst removing 16.72 tonnes. Each bottle of award-winning rum is crafted with a light, British-made bottle, FSC wooden top and compostable labels.

Eco places to stay 

When you’re in East Devon you’re only ever 30 minutes from the coast. East Devon boasts two areas of outstanding natural beauty and incredible coastlines, which all need to be preserved. For those who love to travel and are environmentally conscious, take a look at the fantastic array of eco-friendly places to stay in and around East Devon. Every aspect is covered, from country cottages to seaside hotels.

Higher Wiscombe
Higher Wiscombe have worked with the Green Tourism Business Scheme for the last 15 years and have won over a dozen eco awards

Higher Wiscombe

Expect beautiful, secluded, award-winning, five-star luxury holiday cottages only four miles from beaches including Beer, Sidmouth and Branscombe. Higher Wiscombe have worked with the Green Tourism Business Scheme for the last 15 years and have won over a dozen eco awards, a perfect peaceful green retreat. Their wood chip burner helps keep the cottages cosy and heats the outdoor pool in warmer months.

Holyford Yurt

A staycation in Holyford’s Yurt is the epitome of green-living in East Devon’s breathtaking Axe Valley. This family-friendly smallholding offers organic fruit and veg, solar showers, and an earth oven. While you’re there, you can enjoy home-cooked meals from the owners (for an additional charge), and buy their homemade preserves, pickles and apple juice. It’s positioned next to ancient woodland and the impressive Jurassic Coast. Holyford is the perfect base for days spent walking, cycling, fishing, kayaking and swimming.

The Nest
You can overlook the ancient wood and family run farm from your room at The Nest

The Nest

High up in the boughs of an old English oak tree, this tree-house is the ultimate eco-escape. Complete with fully equipped kitchen, living area with wood burning stove, plus balcony, you can overlook the ancient wood and family run farm. The owners have just planted 700 more trees to replace those taken for firewood.

The Granary, Larkbeare Grange 

Expect self-catering accommodation situated in the heart of Devon countryside, bursting with incredible views. Their biomass boiler provides underfloor heating and hot water, while energy is generated from their solar array. They take pride in shopping locally, including eco-friendly cleaning materials and they plant trees each year to offset carbon emissions. From their Gold Green Tourism award to their Quality in Tourism 2021 award, it’s an impressive eco escape.

Mazzard Farm
From biomass heating boilers to solar panels, Mazzard Farm do their bit to preserve the beautiful countryside

Mazzard Farm

A variety of delightful cottages, surrounded by 17 acres of private woodland, orchards, gardens and fields, it really is a haven of peace and tranquillity, the ultimate relaxing break. They do their bit to preserve the beautiful countryside, from biomass heating boilers to solar panels and of course their Gold Sustainable Tourism award (2012).

Dining with a sea view

The East Devon coastline is packed with top-notch restaurants and cafés serving mouth-watering meals with second-to-none sea views. Here are some of our recommendations for places to eat by the sea, ranging from suggestions for a light bite to the perfect place for an exquisite dinner.

The Rockfish
Rockfish offer sustainably caught local fish with sensational views

Rockfish, Exmouth 

Overlooking the incredible Exe estuary, the tide rips past the front of the restaurant creating the perfect setting to enjoy freshly cooked seafood. They prepare sustainably caught local fish with sensational views.

The Galley, Topsham

This charming fish and seafood restaurant in historic Topsham overlooks the River Exe estuary. The family-run team proudly serves the very best of Devon on a plate and uses only local suppliers including Country Cheeses, Exe Valley Lamb and Forest Fungi mushrooms.

The East Devon coastline is packed with top-notch restaurants and cafés serving mouth-watering meals with second to none sea views

Dukes Sidmouth 

Award-winning South West sourced food and drink situated along the Sidmouth Esplanade, the ultimate location for a bite to eat by the sea.

Mickeys Beach Bar, Exmouth 

This is the newest restaurant launched by Michelin starred chef, Michael Caines. Located directly on Exmouth beach seafront, looking down the coast to Torbay and Berry Head, the beauty of the location inspires Michael’s menus. They certainly celebrate local businesses with the freshest ingredients being used throughout their menus. 

Harbour hotel
Dishes at The Harbour Hotel incorporate regional flavours, employing local produce and seasonal ingredients

The Harbour Hotel, Sidmouth 

A casual, all-day seafood bar and grill, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. Dishes incorporate regional flavours, employing local produce and seasonal ingredients all with a fantastic view of the sea. 

The Hideaway, Seaton 

A place of serenity by the sea to escape for a bite to eat watching the waves go by. They pride themselves on providing quality local and organic ingredients and work closely with suppliers to ensure all food is ethically and sustainably sourced.

River Exe Cafe
Wrapped by 360 views of the sea, coastal dining doesn’t get much better than the River Exe Cafe

River Exe Cafe, Exmouth

Devon’s only floating gastro shed serving the freshest local food, using some of the finest food and drink producers in Devon. Wrapped by 360 views of the sea, coastal dining doesn’t get much better than this. World Champion gig-rower Ian Donohue is one of the local fishermen who often supplies lobsters from his vessel ‘Girl Scout.’

The Clock Tower, Sidmouth 

A family owned café and cakery of 30 years in the iconic tower is situated within Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens. Boasting some of the most sublime sea views on the south coast of England.

Vineyards in East Devon 

The map of vineyards is increasing at pace in East Devon with more and more vines being planted and wines being produced

Devon has been identified as having the most well-positioned sites for vineyards in the UK. There are more coastal south-facing fields with the ideal elevation of 5-10% with optimal drainage and fertile soil than in any other county. The map of vineyards is increasing at pace in East Devon with more and more vines being planted and wines being produced. A vineyard trail makes another great reason to spend time in this gastronomic region. Here’s a small selection of vineyards to look out for:

Lily Farm Vineyard, Budleigh Salterton 

A small, family run, boutique vineyard that has been producing award-winning world-class wines since 2005. Walking distance or a quick car journey away from the incredible Jurassic coastline.

Lyme Bay Winery
Lyme Bay Winery is a small dedicated drinks company, who are passionate about producing delicious award-winning English wine, fruit wine, cider, mead, liqueurs and spirits all from Devon’s stunning Axe Valley

Lyme Bay Winery, Axminster 

A small dedicated drinks company, who are passionate about producing delicious award-winning English wine, fruit wine, cider, mead, liqueurs and spirits all from Devon’s stunning Axe Valley.

Heron Farm, Honiton 

A small family run vineyard, kitchen and shop on the outskirts of Honiton. Local produce for a bite to eat, play areas for the children and their own sparkling wine always chilled and ready waiting, a great afternoon well spent.

Alex Mills of Pebblebed
Pebblebed Vineyard is a multiple award-winning vineyard

Pebblebed Vineyard, Topsham

Multiple award-winning vineyard, which is carefully managed to encourage wildlife and reduce the impact of farming on the environment. Offering a vineyard tour and positioned next door to the outstanding Darts Farm where the wines are also sold and can be enjoyed in the new ‘The Farm Table’ restaurant. 

Castlewood Vineyard, Musbury 

An incredible setting with delightful views, run by incredibly passionate owners making it a special experience. Each year they run their very own wine festival which proves to be very popular, definitely a date for the diary. 

Countryside dining at its finest

The Agricultural Inn

Muddy-boots and dogs are welcome here – this pub hits the sweet spot between homely pub and quality dining. One glance at the menu shows you’re in safe hands with Karl Parker’s food. It’s no wonder they’ve won every award from Muddy Stilettos ‘Best Restaurant’ to Taste of the West Gold.

Rusty Pig receives outstanding reviews from all who visit

Rusty Pig 

This independent restaurant receives outstanding reviews from all who visit. Robin Rea and the team serve wholesome, hearty food with an emphasis on nose to tail eating. Supper is a fixed price of £48pp and guests begin the feast at 7pm. This ‘supper club’ style communal dining reduces kitchen waste and allows the kitchen team to create seasonal surprise menus using their on-site meat that they cure, hang and smoke themselves.

The Five Bells Inn

This Grade 2 listed inn was rescued from permanent closure in 2013 in a bid to keep the pub going within the community. With head chef Charlotte Vincent leading the kitchen now, The Five Bells has received numerous awards including a listing in Estrella Damn’s 50 Top Gastropubs and crowned ‘Best Roast in Devon’ from Devon Life Magazine. Using local produce such as fisherman John at Devon Quality Fish in Exmouth and Dart Fresh in Exeter.

Dog friendly places to eat

Dog friendly cafes
There are plenty of dog friendly places to eat in East Devon

For those who are out and about exploring East Devon with their furry friends and fancy a bite to eat there are plenty of dog friendly places to eat.

The Grove, Exmouth 

Relax with your four legged friend under a parasol in their large beer garden, with plenty of space to play. The pub has lots of tasty food on offer too, all with fantastic seafront views.

The Point Bar and Grill, Exmouth 

Only a stone’s throw from the seafront, the perfect place to finish a walk. Families and dogs are positively encouraged and warmly welcomed. The pub is well equipped with plenty of bowls of water and dog snacks at the bar. 

The Point Bar and Grill
The Point Bar and Grill in Exmouth is the place for freshly cooked seafood

Otterton Mill, Otterton 

Set in the picturesque village of Otterton, a river walk away from Budleigh Salterton beach, they offer a mill, bakery, local food shop, gift and craft shop, art gallery and live music. Dogs are more than welcome in all outside areas and downstairs of the cafe where there are water bowls and complimentary dog treats.

Blinis Cafe Bar, Sidmouth 

After a stroll along the Esplanade with your dogs, you’ll find Blinis, a stylish popular place for a bite to eat. Dogs are welcome to come and enjoy this relaxing atmosphere and fantastic food. 

Beaches in East Devon

Visitors to East Devon are spoilt for choice for beaches to go to, the below lists just a few.

Budleigh Salterton
Budleigh Beach overlooks the high red cliffs, offering the perfect photo opportunity

Budleigh Beach 

A pebbly beach overlooking the high red cliffs, the perfect photo opportunity. A popular beach for water sports including windsurfing and paddle boarding, during the summer months you can hire various water sports equipment from the shore. At the far end you’ll be able to see the estuary of the River Otter, rich in wildlife. Facilities are fantastic ranging from ice cream huts, to toilets and only a two-minute walk to the high street. Everything you need for a trip to the beach. 

Exmouth Beach 

A two-mile stretch of flat, soft, golden sand with shallow waters. The beach front has plenty of amenities and facilities such as ice cream shops, convenience stores, toilets, amusements, restaurants and crazy golf. There is a vast amount of parking available, making it an easy and exciting day out for all the family. 

Fishing Boat on Branscombe Beach
If you’re visiting Branscombe Beach, then take sure to explore the area and visit the restaurant nearby

Branscombe Beach 

A well maintained shingle beach. There are lots of rockpools waiting to be explored by all the family. There is a car park close to the beach, along with toilets and a small picnic area. Nearby there is a local shop and thatched restaurant. 

Beer Beach 

A shingle beach with a fairly high tide, a great option for avid swimmers but definitely not one for small children. A working beach means it is scattered with colourful fishing boats and there are also fishing trips available. There is a beach café and toilets and various other facilities a few minutes away in the village. 

Recommended five-mile walk in East Devon

Beautiful walks in East Devon
There’s an array of beautiful walks in East Devon, including ones with stunning views stretching right along the Jurassic Coast

If you have just one day to spend in East Devon, the five-mile walk which takes you down the beautiful River Otter (now home of England’s first wild beaver population in 400 years) from the award-winning Otterton Mill visitor centre, to the sea near Budleigh Salterton and then east over the striking red-cliffs to Ladram Bay. Here you’ll see fishing boats landing bass, crab, plaice and mackerel, destined for local restaurants. From there you can head inland back to where you began for one of the most complete hikes in the UK. 

Not only can you taste award winning food at the mill, but you can enjoy one of the most lovely river valleys in the South West; admire the marshland and saltings which make up Budleigh’s bird-rich estuarine nature reserve; be blown away by the stunning views stretching right along the Jurassic Coast; and be surrounded by delightful Devonshire landscapes as you head back inland enjoying vistas of the nearby pebblebed heathlands as well as the high ridges which dominate the local landscape. Few other five-mile walks in England can offer such diversity.

In a way, the walk sums up what is unique and best about East Devon – its natural beauty and its enormous variety and diversity – all there, in one quick morning or afternoon stroll.