Visiting East Devon outside of the summer months might not be the obvious choice if you imagine relaxing on beaches, eating ice cream in the sun, or walking the Jurassic Coast, True, East Devon is nothing short of beautiful in the summer, yet this idyllic region has more than meets the eye throughout the year and if you know where to look, there is so much to discover. You can explore East Devon’s cultural highlights all year round in our many theatres and art galleries including the award-winning Thelma Hulbert Gallery, as well as the region’s rich history through our museums and heritage centres. Experience workshops.
Michael Caines, Chef Patron Lympstone Manor & Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant, said: “East Devon is a beautiful part of the country, blessed with a plethora of exciting days out, astounding scenery, remarkable history and it goes without saying ‘exceptional food and drink for all,’ with so many wonderful places to visit. If you’re after fresh, wild and atmospheric breaks – you will find visiting East Devon outside of the summer months a life affirming experience. Whilst summer in East Devon is unarguably great, there are many things it can’t offer that the other months can, and unless you’re a dedicated sun worshipper, you might just find it makes for a better time to visit.’
Chris Woodruff, AONB Partnership Manager, said ‘In a nutshell, East Devon AONB is an incredibly diverse landscape, with its imposing and colourful red sandstone and white chalk cliff coastline, wildlife rich wetlands, heathlands and woodlands, intimate yet vast, with picturesque villages, historic hill forts and a patchwork of hedge lined green fields, dissected and criss-crossed by rivers, quite country lanes, ancient lanes and footpaths, it’s easy to see why East Devon isn’t just for summer!’
Councillor Nick Hookway supported the call to arms further by stating ‘East Devon is perfect for unwinding and getting back that positive vibe that comes from a good walk in the countryside. East Devon has a wealth of intriguing natural features, such as The Jurassic Coast, The Pebblebed Heaths and our ancient woodlands waiting to be safely explored at your leisure. In these places there is a chance to reconnect with nature so that the whole family can enjoy the tranquillity of the winter season. With luck you may even come across the first signs of spring.’
So why is East Devon not just for summer? Well, if Michael Caines’ word is not enough, because it is a fantastic time of year to see East Devon in all its beauty. Okay, maybe you need more than that. We can give you more reasons, here are our top 10 reasons to visit all year round and not just for summer:
1. Best for the cruisers /For those looking to cruise – No matter what time of year you visit, Stuart Line Cruises sail whatever the weather, in the winter months take a Guided Bird Watching Cruise up calm-assured waters of the
River Exe, with heated inside seating on the lower deck, and open-air seating on the upper deck with cosy blankets. Take to the tracks on the Seaton Tramway, 3 miles of unspoilt East Devon countryside along the beautiful Axe Valley. Starting in Seaton the coastal resort and gateway to the Jurassic Coast, the spring months are the best time soak up the unrivalled views, as you travel smoothly past Seaton Wetlands, the Exe Estuary RAMSAR site & award-winning nature reserves ending your trip in historic Colyton, “Devon’s Most Rebellious Town”.
2. Best for the wild swimmers / For those looking to explore 28 Miles of Coastline – We’ve plenty of places for a spot of sea swimming, dip your toe or dive straight into the waters at our favourite locations; Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Branscombe, Beer and Brave the waves in winter months, for some stress busting cold water therapy. Why not follow in kite surfer and RedBull Athlete, Tom Bridges footsteps and discover for yourself why East Devon is the perfect kitesurfing environment, or if you’re looking for a challenge or a quiet day of paddle-boarding in the marina, East Devon is a wonderful place to start.
3. Best for the culture seekers / For those seeking culture – It’s easy to see why so many artists, writers, and creatives flock to East Devon, with landscapes and seascapes like ours you can’t help but be inspired. You can explore East Devon’s cultural highlights all year round in our many galleries hosting award winning art, museums and heritage centres highlighting the region’s rich history. Experience workshops and talks by inspiring authors at our literary festivals in Budleigh Salterto
4. Best for Pedal Power / For those looking to cycle our trails – Getting on your bike is one the best ways to explore East Devon and embrace our great outdoors, with miles of National Cycle Networks to choose from, open heathland and woodland trails, you’ll find it’s perfect pedalling during the quieter months, you can take advantage of the tranquil trails and country lanes. For the more accomplished and active cyclists there’s also plenty of off-road routes and trails to test your skills on.
5. Best for budding Attenborough / For the budding Attenborough – As a region that’s blessed with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty it’s easy to connect with nature and rewild you child in East Devon. Our 10 East Devon District Council nature reserves situated across the district from Axminster to Exmouth are open all year round to explore and they’re free to visit! Throughout the year you can enjoy exciting events for all ages and activities with Countryside Team Rangers, inspiring budding Attenborough, and Bear Grylls with outdoor learning.
6. Best for the culinary adventurous / For the culinary adventurous – We’re lucky to have Michelin star chefs, food producers, growers, restaurants, and venues in abundance here in East Devon, offering all year-round hospitality and foodie adventures from trawler to table and farm to fork. Take a culinary food journey right here, try the supper club at The Rusty Pig, fine dining at Michael Caines or the Pig at Combe, sip a local ale from Powderkeg or Otter Brewery, try and buy charcuterie and champion cheeses from Darts Farm food hall or Otterton Mill farm shop and sample seafood caught straight from our shores at one of the many coastal cafés and eateries. You can also feast your eyes and take-home East Devon delights at the many food festivals and farmers markets and you’re sure to get a great taste of our gastronomic region.
7. Best for the wine lovers / For the wine lovers – East Devon is said to have more coastal south-facing fields with fertile soil and the ideal elevation and optimal drainage than in any other part of the UK, so, it’s no wonder we have some of the best Vineyards in the Country. We’re the perfect destination for an East Devon vineyard and wine tasting trail, take your pick from our crop of award-winning winery’s including Castlewood, Dalwood, Lily Farm Vineyard in Budleigh Salterton, Heron Farm, Lyme Bay, Lympstone, Pebblebed and Sidbury vineyards, simply sip, stay, wine and dine around our district and you’ll get the full flavour of it. If wine isn’t your thing, you can visit one of our many breweries and distilleries.
8. Best for Driving Enthusiasts /For those looking for the ultimate drive – Take to the Southwest 660, the ultimate driving route along East Devon’s Dramatic Coastline. Start your engines and enjoy the breathtakingly awesome drive that’s open all year round.
9. Best for the striders / For the stride takers – You can get your steps in any time of year here in East Devon, wander wildly along coastal paths, woodland trails, river valleys and over hills and heaths for the best views that stretch out over areas of outstanding natural beauty and our rugged East Devon coastline. Take it all in your stride on the 40-mile East Devon Way, you don’t have to do it all, you can choose from 6 shorter stages to walk. or traverse the world-famous Jurassic Coast, England’s first UNESCO designated natural World Heritage Site.
10. Best for variety lovers / For those looking for variety – Searching for an out of season escape? East Devon has an array of accommodation to suit all visitors, including boutique rural boltholes, 5-star coastal luxury hotels and unique glamping in the wild. Experience a fairy tale weekend away in a tower or spend the night in a lovingly converted Canadian school bus, from coast to countryside we’ve got plenty of perfect places for you to rest your head and feel revived.
If that’s not reason enough to visit during the cooler months, then how about the thought of seeing and doing everything you might do in the summer, but for a lot less money, as accommodation and activity providers often slash their prices when the summer season ends! Plus, you won’t have to fight the summer crowds, and you get to experience what this region has to offer through the eyes of the locals, but remember to pack an umbrella, waterproof shoes (a.k.a. wellies), and layers.
So, forget flocking further north, south or west we’ve got plenty to see, do and experience, including wonderful places to visit and a food and drink destination that’s second to none. Whilst summer is a stunningly nostalgic experience here in East Devon, both winter and spring are as comparably beautiful. There is plenty for you to see and do during your break to East Devon – whatever the occasion.