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Forest ramblings

Our Favourite Local Beaches

May 24, 2018

One of the best things about holidaying in Devon is having access to so much coast line. Every beach offers something different, but, no matter where you venture, that special feeling you get when you stand by the sea and smell the salty air never changes. The north and south Devon coasts feel quite distinct in character and, if you can, it's worth visiting both. Today, however, we're going to introduce you to our favourite local beaches. Each of these beaches is part of the famous Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site and they are all easily accessible from Forest Glade, taking around 45 minutes in the car. 

Branscombe is fantastic for a family day out. The shingle makes for clear water and there are stunning views of the coastline. To get there, you need to keep driving right through the pretty Devon village - believed to be the longest village in England! There's a car park and loos right by the beach. Mackerel fishing trips are available in summer and you can keep what you catch - they're fantastic cooked simply with lemon on a BBQ. For lunch, there is a 14th Century Inn, the Masons Arms, where even the beer garden benches are thatched! For cream teas or a light lunch, try the Sea Shanty Beach Cafe. If you decide you'd like to venture slightly further and you're feeling energetic, there is a beautiful walk on the South West Coastpath from Branscombe to Beer, a picturesque fishing village with lots of quaint shops, several pubs and a beachside fishmonger. 

 

Just a 'stone's throw' from Branscombe is Sidmouth, where visitors have a choice of two beaches: the main town beach and Jacob's Ladder beach, both of which have sand and pebbles and benefit from large nearby car parks. An esplanade, lined with Regency hotels, runs the length of the town beach. It's perfect for a stroll, or for people watching from a deck chair, sitting with an ice cream in hand. If you're feeling more energetic, why not have a go at paddle boarding? Sailing is also very popular; you'll see plenty of people out on the water. Towards the end of August, Sidmouth Regatta has sailing races and plenty of family activities. Of course, the Folk Festival earlier that month, affords music, traditional dancing and stalls along the esplanade and is a great time to visit and soak up the atmosphere. 

Jacob's Ladder beach, slightly up the hill from the main town, is a fantastic spot for some quality family time. The red cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop and "Jacob's Ladder" itself is a set of white, wooden steps leadning up the cliff to Connaught Gardens, where the Clock Tower Cakery and Restaurant have some of the best views and cakes around. There's a large expanse of sand at low tide and plenty of rock pools.

Exmouth is the western gateway to the Jurassic Coast. The long, sandy beach is fantastic for all the family and also makes a great base for a boat trip along the coast. There's loads to do, even when the weather isn't so great. A new indoor entertainment centre, 'Ocean' offers bowling, soft play and places to eat. Dogs are welcome all year on some parts of the beach. There are two miles of golden sand and at low tide, interesting rock pools are exposed, offering the kids a chance to spot all kinds of sealife. At one end of the beach is Orcombe Point, the most westerly point of the Jurassic Coast and at the other, the picturesque marina is a wonderful place to stroll and admire some of the rather nice boats. It's also where you can catch a ferry in summer out to the River Exe Cafe, which boasts fine dining on a floating restaurant!

On the other side of the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren is a traditional family seaside resort. The Blue Flag beach is staffed with lifeguards in the summer and is backed by sheltered sand dunes, shops, cafes and amusements. Walk a little further and explore - Dawlish Warren is also an internationally renowned bird sanctuary, with wildfowl and wading birds enjoying this spot on the estuary. During the summer there are many free open-air events, children's entertainers and spectacular firework displays.

Lyme Regis is an historic seaside town, with several beaches. The town beach no longer gets covered at high tide and provides a large area for safe sandcastle building. Mostly pebbled, there's also an area at the Cobb end which boasts sand imported from France! There are RNLI lifeguards and the town beach also has takeaways, cafes, restaurants and pubs. East Cliff beach is rich in fossils, particularly ammonites. This is what Lyme Regis is famous for; you can literally find prehistory for yourself and take a piece home with you. As the cliff is constantly being eroded, fresh rock falls offer new finds regularly. It goes without saying that you're not advised to climb on, or take your hammer to, the cliffs themselves. The beach can become cut off at high tide, so it's worth checking tide times before you set off. There are 114 steps back up to the car park, but the climb is worth it for the splendid views! Lyme Regis is also famous for its harbour wall, the Cobb, which featured in a film starring Meryl Streep, 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'.

 

Image credits: Mark Wootton, Maria Thorne, Pixabay and Forest Glade