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Things to do in Sidmouth, Devon

Sidmouth © Colette Bettis

Sidmouth is a lovely resort town on the south coast of Devon, 15 miles southeast of Exeter. It sits at the mouth of the River Sid on a sweeping shingle bay beneath striking red sandstone cliffs. The seafront is bordered by a long promenade.

Sidmouth's natural beauty was recognized long ago. It was listed as a small fishing village called Sedemuda in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD.

It developed as a fashionable seaside resort from the 18th century onwards; the railway arrived in 1874 but was later closed in the 1960s.

Present Day Sidmouth

Sidmouth has about 15,000 residents, including many retirees who move to Sidmouth for the mild winters and pleasant lifestyle. It is a frequent winner of the Britain in Bloom competition and its magnificent parks and formal gardens are quite breathtaking.

The seafront is lined with elegant Regency, Georgian and Victorian villas which are now mostly private hotels. The Royal Glen Hotel has a plaque on the front. In 1819 George III's son, Edward came to stay there for several weeks along with his wife and daughter. He died shortly afterwards. His daughter grew up to be Queen Victoria.

The town has a good selection of shops, banks, restaurants, pubs and services to meet the needs of most residents and visitors. It has a parish church dedicated to St Giles and St Nicholas and the Sidmouth Museum contains many local artifacts.

Sidmouth has some excellent cultural attractions including a theatre, cinema and arts centre. It hosts the annual Folk Festival in August.

Sidmouth has featured in many stories by Agatha Christie, William Makepeace Thackeray and Thomas Hardy. It has also been filmed in several TV shows including the popular TV series of Miss Marple.

Things to do in Sidmouth

Sidmouth has plenty to see and do around the town, as well as in the surrounding countryside of South Devon. The Cockle Rocks are a natural geological feature overlooking the shale beach. Jacobs Ladder is a wooden staircase that runs down the steep cliffs to the quiet beach below. It offers stunning views from the top.

Sidmouth is at the start of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The cliffs span several eons and there are many natural features such as Lulworth Cove, where you can visit Lulworth Heritage Cenntre and the natural arch at Durdle Door. Fossil-hunting is popular in the area as many fossils have been found in the cliffs, including those of dinosaur bones.

Sidmouth is surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is ideal for scenic drives, clifftop walks along the South West coastal path and cycling along the pretty Devon lanes.

The delightful village of Ottery St Mary is a delight to stroll around with its thatched cottages, or visit the narrow streets of Budleigh Salterton just along the coast. It has many antique shops and tea rooms as well as a local dairy which produces delicious Devon ice cream.

The Lockyer Observatory and Planetarium sits on the hills between Sidmouth and Salcombe, a lovely port town with a long history just along the coast.

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Images of Sidmouth

Jaccob's Ladder, Sidmouth. taken May07 © Colette Bettis
Sidmouth © Colette Bettis
Sidmouth © Colette Bettis

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