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7 Picturesque East Devon Villages

east devon villages

Discover the most picturesque East Devon Villages

Within 20 minutes from Exeter, you can step away from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of these East Devon villages. Nestled amidst rolling hills, winding lanes, and patchwork fields, these quaint settlements offer a glimpse into England’s rich rural heritage. From thatched-roof cottages adorned with climbing roses to historic churches that have stood the test of time, the East Devon villages exude an irresistible charm.

Explore these timeless treasures, each with its unique story to tell. Wander through narrow streets lined with independent shops and cozy pubs, where friendly locals gather to share tales and traditions. Discover hidden gems, from ancient monuments to tranquil country parks, all within a stone’s throw of these picture-perfect villages. Prepare to be captivated by the allure of East Devon’s villages, where the pace of life slows down, and the beauty of the English countryside takes centre stage.

The list of villages below is just an example of the many lovely villages you can visit in East Devon. They are not produced in any specific order!

east devon rolling hills

Explore the Charm of Beer Village

Beer is one of the quintessential East Devon villages that simply must be visited. Tucked away on the Jurassic Coast, this fishing village has managed to retain its unspoiled charm and traditional maritime character. Getting to Beer is half the fun – the winding country lanes lined with hedgerows and thatched cottages set the tone for this historic gem. The village is easily accessible, just a short drive inland from the coastal towns of Seaton and Lyme Regis.

As you approach Beer, you’ll be struck by the picturesque scene of whitewashed houses with brick and flint accents tumbling down the hill towards the small sheltered cove. The compact village centres around the beach and ancient fishing quarter. Stroll along the pebbly shoreline where brightly colored boats are still launched from the traditional wooden causeway. Keep an eye out for fishermen unloading their catch of fresh crab and lobster.

No visit to Beer would be complete without taking in the magnificent St. Michael’s Church perched high on the hill. Dating back to the 14th century, it features an unusual wooden carved exterior. The church grounds offer panoramic views over Beer’s rooftops to the sea.

Another must-see are the Beer Quarry Caves, an intriguing reminder of the village’s illicit past.

beer quarry caves entrance

For a taste of local life, pass through the lovingly tended gardens to the quaint main street. Here you’ll find traditional craft shops, art galleries, and pubs like the 16th century Dolphin Hotel and Barrel O’ Beer. Warm yourself by the fire with a local ale or a classic Devon cream tea. Beer is also perfectly situated for soaking up the beautiful Jurassic Coast scenery with walks along the South West Coast Path.

While small in size, Beer packs a big punch for those seeking an authentic English village experience. Soak up the maritime history, admire the rustic architecture, meet the friendly locals, and bask in the timeless atmosphere that defines these East Devon villages. Beer is a delightful destination not to be missed.



“East Devon: The Jurassic Coast and Its Characterful Villages” offers a captivating exploration of one of England’s most picturesque regions. From the dramatic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast to the charming villages nestled within the countryside, this book is a visual and informative delight for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

Find Out More

east devon guide

Enjoy the Stunning Views in Branscombe

Nestled in a verdant valley between soaring cliffs, the village of Branscombe epitomizes the idyllic East Devon countryside. This quintessential English hamlet lies just a few miles from the coastal towns of Beer and Sidmouth, but feels a world away with its tranquil atmosphere and unspoiled beauty.

Getting to Branscombe involves leaving the main roads behind and venturing along winding country lanes, passing through archetypal Devon villages with thatched roofs and babbling brooks. As you descend into the village, you’re immediately enveloped by the lush, wooded Branscombe Valley surroundings.

At the heart of Branscombe lies the historic square and working forge, little changed over centuries. Admire the charming thatched cottages, the Old Bakers bakery full of tempting local treats, and the tradition of the village blacksmith shoeing horses at his anvil. Stop for refreshments at the Masons Arms, a welcoming 14th century thatched pub.

A must-see is the Church of St Winifred, parts of which date back to the 12th century Norman era. Its stone tower provides vantage points over the surrounding countryside. From the old church, footpaths lead up through Branscombe’s picturesque working farms to the dramatic clifftops of the East Devon Coast Path. These renowned trails offer incredible views along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its geological marvels.

History buffs will appreciate the National Trust’s Branscombe Old Bakery and Stone Gallery, where visitors can learn about this traditional craft and view a 40-ton stone that fell from the cliffs in 1700. The unspoiled beach at Branscombe Mouth, framed by soaring golden cliffs, makes for a lovely spot for a seaside stroll.

With its idyllic rural setting, wealth of historic buildings, and proximity to the breathtaking coast, Branscombe charms all who visit. Slowly wander the lane-lined village, pausing to chat with friendly locals, indulge in hearty country fare, and simply savor the ambiance that epitomizes these East Devon villages. Branscombe offers a slice of quintessential English life.

old bakery branscombe

Discover the Rich History of Otterton

Nestled along the River Otter in a lush green valley, the village of Otterton encapsulates the picturesque beauty of East Devon’s countryside. Despite its proximity to the coastal towns of Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, Otterton maintains a remote, peaceful atmosphere that seems frozen in time.

The approach to this charming village sets the scene, with winding country lanes bordered by dense hedgerows and ancient trees. As you enter Otterton, you’re immediately struck by the sight of the historic working mill, its iconic wooden waterwheel turned by the gentle flow of the river. This 18th century mill now houses an award-winning bakery and restaurant, offering visitors a taste of local delicacies like fresh bread and tucked away pub meals.

otterton mill

At the heart of Otterton lies the village green, surrounded by a collection of thatched and cob cottages that seem plucked from the pages of a storybook. The 14th century Church of St Michael stands proudly overlooking the green. Stop by the picturesque porched houses to browse local crafts for sale directly from the villagers themselves.

No visit to Otterton is complete without enjoying the great outdoors. The village lies within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, providing ample opportunities to explore the lush, rolling hills and ancient woodlands. Join the walker’s paradise that is the East Devon Way footpath, which meanders right through the village towards the dramatic Jurassic Coast at Sidmouth. Or paddle along the tranquil River Otter on a canoe or kayak.

For nature lovers, Otterton provides easy access to abundant wildlife havens like the Pebblebed Heaths and scenic Otter Estuary. Keep an eye out for rare birds like Beavers and Otters in the marshy reedbeds. Families will delight in visiting attractions like the Otterton Mill with its tiny zelkova tree maze.

Blissfully free of the bustle of modern life, Otterton offers a chance to slow down and immerse yourself in the rhythms of an idyllic East Devon village. Savor the stunning rural vistas, explore the outdoors, and experience the warm hospitality that defines these tucked-away gems.

Indulge in Local Delicacies at Sidmouth

Nestled between striking red cliffs and the gently lapping waves of the English Channel, the Regency town of Sidmouth charms visitors with its elegant architecture, peaceful promenade, and quintessential seaside atmosphere. One of East Devon’s most beloved coastal villages, Sidmouth seamlessly blends maritime heritage with refined grandeur.

sidmouth museum

For many, the allure of Sidmouth lies in its famously pristine beach and level promenade, ideal for gentle strolls while taking in sweeping sea views. Brick buildings in warm hues line the perfectly raked sand, recalling the town’s origins as a fashionable Georgian resort. Stop for tea and made-from-scratch baked goods at one of the delightful tea rooms overlooking the esplanade.

Despite its compact size, Sidmouth boasts an impressive array of attractions for visitors. In the town centre, shoppers will delight in the range of independent boutiques, art galleries, and bookshops housed within historic buildings. Don’t miss keen Court Gardens, a beautifully restored public garden oasis originally crafted in 1819. Check out the interesting Sidmouth Museum too.

Sidmouth’s grand architectural jewel is the Connaught Gardens, which were designed as pleasant pleasure grounds for Regency-era guests. These elegant gardens, lined with distinct circular flowerbeds, offer the perfect setting for open-air concerts and plays held during summer months.

For those who appreciate striking natural scenery, Sidmouth delivers with its famed Jurassic Coast backdrop. The town acts as a gateway to the dramatic South West Coast Path, with trails leading to towering red cliffs, geological wonders, and expansive coastal views. Take a gentle cliffside walk to spot fossils and abundant birdlife, or visit the Norman Lockyer Observatory to learn about the night sky over East Devon.

Families can also enjoy child-friendly attractions like Sidmouth’s donkey sanctuary, fun parks, and easygoing cycling trails through the pristine East Devon countryside nearby. As evening falls, catch live music at the pubs and bars, or enjoy seasonal events like Sidmouth’s beloved Folk Festival.

Donkey at the Donkey Sanctuary

With its mix of polished Regency elegance and relaxed beach town charms, Sidmouth seamlessly blends heritage and modern delights. This East Devon gem offers the quintessential English coastal holiday experience.

Stroll Along the Quaint Streets of Colyton

Tucked away in the verdant Coly Valley, the picture-perfect village of Colyton epitomizes the rural charm of East Devon. Despite its close proximity to the Jurassic Coast, this historic settlement feels a world apart, frozen in time with its winding lanes, medieval buildings, and tranquil atmosphere.

Approaching Colyton, you’ll thread through a landscape of rolling hills and patchwork fields dotted with farms and orchards. The village slowly reveals itself, a jumble of mellow stone cottages and elegant Georgian facades gathered around the meandering River Coly. Prepare to be captivated by the idyllic ambiance and sense of stepping back centuries.

colyton

At the heart of Colyton lies the Butterwalk, a rare covered medieval walkway dating back to the 1500s. This iconic structure, with its carved oak pillars and stone roof, was once used for marketing locally produced butter, cheese and eggs. Today it houses antique shops and craft vendors, perfect for browsing local wares. The adjacent Colcombe Castle offers a glimpse into the village’s historic roots as a Saxon settlement.

No visit to Colyton is complete without taking a leisurely stroll along Riverside Walk, which meanders beside the River Coly. Deep in the wooded Coly Valley lie serene paths perfect for spotting wildlife like otters, kingfishers, and salmon. Stop for a pint and delicious pub fare at St. Murvyn’s House, a 14th-century thatched inn nestled under a canopy of trees.

For stunning rural scenery, embark on hikes or cycles through the surrounding East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Seaton Wetlands is a hidden gem with ancient woodland, wildlife ponds, and far-reaching country views. The more adventurous can tackle a section of the East Devon Way, a long-distance walking path passing right through Colyton.

History enthusiasts will appreciate Colyton’s many medieval and Tudor buildings like Bottrell’s of Colyton tearoom and the magnificent 15th-century St. Andrew’s Church. Meanwhile, the community’s rich tradition of rural crafts and agriculture is celebrated at annual events like the Colyton Parish Show.

With its timeless atmosphere, scenic countryside setting, and wealth of heritage sites, Colyton offers visitors a quintessential immersion into East Devon village life. Wander the lanes, meet the friendly locals, and savor the slower pace of this uniquely tranquil gem.

Admire the Architecture of Seaton

Hugging the shores of Lyme Bay, the charming seaside town of Seaton perfectly encapsulates the allure of East Devon’s coastline. With its long pebble beach backed by towering cliffs, historic harbor, and gateway to the stunning Jurassic Coast, Seaton delights visitors with its classic maritime charm.

seaton east devon

For many, the star attraction in Seaton is the wide swath of beach that curves along the village’s eastern edge. Spend warm days combing the pebbly expanse for unique finds, swimming in the shallow waters, or simply relaxing on the promenade with views of the red Triassic cliffs. At low tide, you can still see the remains of the ancient harbour known as Axe Mud where ships would dock to offload their cargo.

Just inland, Seaton’s town centre invites visitors to experience its historic atmosphere. Wander along the level streets lined with locally-owned shops, galleries, pubs and cafes housed in a mix of thatched, stone and brick buildings. Stop for fresh seafood, traditional fish and chips, or a classic English cream tea. The town also hosts a buzzing street market each Thursday and Saturday.

For those seeking more active pursuits, Seaton’s scenic location provides easy access to the spectacular South West Coast Path. Follow the trails winding along the dramatic Beer and Branscombe cliffs, with their remarkable geological formations and abundant birdlife. For something different, ride the historic Seaton Tramway which runs alongside the River Axe estuary through two peaceful nature reserves.

seaton tramway

History buffs will appreciate Seaton’s landmarks like its 14th century St. Gregory’s Church and Seaton Marshes where the Knights Templar once had their local base. Nearby you’ll find Axmouth Harbour, a popular spot for boating excursions, kayaking, and some of the best sunsets in East Devon. A short drive inland leads to the quaint village of Beer, famed for its picturesque fishing harbor and fresh seafood.

With its perfect blend of beach-town charm, maritime heritage, and unbeatable access to natural wonders like the Jurassic Coast, Seaton makes for an idyllic coastal getaway. Come experience the serenity and timeless beauty of this seafront East Devon town.

Enjoy some time in Axminster

Nestled in the lush, rolling countryside of the River Axe valley, the market town of Axminster has been an integral part of East Devon’s heritage for over a thousand years. While less frequented by tourists than some of the picture-perfect villages, Axminster offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich history and traditions.

azminster

As you approach Axminster, you’ll be struck by the sight of the town’s crowning glory – the magnificently sculpted tower of the 14th century Church of St. Mary. This intricate example of Decorated Gothic architecture soars above the surrounding thatched cottages and serves as an eye-catching landmark. Take time to admire the interior, with its ornate woodcarvings and splendid stained glass.

At the heart of Axminster lies its charming, compact town centre developed around its history as a traditional market town. Along West Street and Trenchard Road, you’ll find a delightful array of independent shops, galleries, and cafes housed in a mix of half-timbered, brick and stone buildings dating back centuries. The vibrant street market held every Thursday is a longtime tradition.

Axminster’s rich heritage is tied to its world-famous carpets and weaving industry that stretches back to 755 AD. Learn about this legacy by visiting attractions like the Thomas Whitty House, a weaver’s cottage dating to 1550, and the award-winning Axminster Heritage Museum. Here you can see antique looms and artifacts showcasing the renowned Axminster carpets and their unique designs.

For those seeking scenic outdoor pursuits, Axminster provides easy access to the tranquil beauty of East Devon’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The level terrain around the River Axe makes for pleasant waterside walks and cycling paths through idyllic villages like Uplyme and Combpyne-Rousdon. The more adventurous can explore a section of the regional East Devon Way trail as it winds through the rolling farmlands surrounding Axminster.

Beyond the town, you’ll find other intriguing heritage sites like the picturesque ruins of the 13th century Cistercian monastery at Newenham Abbey and the medieval Beer Quarry Caves. Or simply enjoy classic English countryside views at Axminster’s tucked-away pubs like the Half Moon Inn.

With its quintessentially English ambiance, wealth of history, scenic rural setting, and accessibility to outdoor adventures, Axminster makes for an engaging visit in the heart of East Devon.

Other East Devon Villages to think about visiting

While we’ve explored some of the most charming East Devon villages, from the coastal delights of Beer and Branscombe to the rural retreats of Otterton and Colyton, there are still so many other hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Perhaps you’ll find yourself wandering the tranquil lanes of Gittisham, meandering along the River Sid through the cobb cottages of Sidbury, or pub-hopping through the thatched splendor of Musbury.

No matter which East Devon village you visit, you’re guaranteed to be captivated by the timeless beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality found in each tucked-away hamlet. Escape from the stresses of modern life by embracing the slower pace, indulging in hearty local fare, and immersing yourself in the pastoral scenery that defines this corner of the English countryside. The East Devon villages offer a travel experience you’ll treasure for years to come.

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