The Axe Valley, Seaton Bay and tramway
Seaton is only 20 minutes drive from Sidmouth, still in Devon, but only just. The best thing about Seaton is the sweeping pebble beach with the Esplanade and Chine providing an easy level walkway along most of it’s length. Above the Chine are the Cliff Field Gardens – a pleasant open space with views across the bay and an unusual labyrinth marked out in the grass with local stone and casts of ammonites. Near to here are the Jubilee Gardens with a well kept children’s playground, public tennis courts and a putting green. The green house in the Jubilee Gardens houses a collection of cacti as well as a carp pond. There’s a small café so that you can take a tea or coffee down to the playground while the children burn off some energy.
A D recommended Seaton for its “uncrowded beach”, (July 2013).
New for 2016 is Seaton Jurassic, a purpose built centre that houses a café, gift shop and an interactive exhibition exploring the history of the Jurassic coast. In 1839 a major landslip at nearby Bindon became something of a Victorian tourist attraction. Inspired by this, Seaton Jurassic features a Victorian themed library and workshop complete with a ‘time machine’. A further section is themed as a Jurassic rock pool and there’s an outdoor area which wasn’t finished when we visited in March.
There are plenty of interactive elements to keep the children occupied, but be warned – there are no dinosaurs and only a few fossils! If that’s what you’re looking for then try the Lyme Regis Museum and the Dinosaur Museum, also in Lyme Regis.
The Seaton Jurassic experience seems to be mainly geared towards families and is largely indoors so could be a good option for wet days, although I imagine it will get quite busy during the peak holiday season. It’s run by the Devon Wildlife Trust who also run rock-pool safaris, guided nature walks and talks from the centre.
The Seaton Tramway
The tram line runs alongside the river Axe between Seaton and Colyton with a stop at Colyford. Passengers can enjoy the beautiful Devon country side and spot birds on the way. Whichever station you start from we’d recommend that you allow time to explore before you take the return tram back.
At the Colyton station there’s a gift shop and café and nearby there’s an interesting antiques warehouse. From there it’s a 5-10 minute walk into Colyton village where you can find local shops, tea rooms and pubs.
From the Seaton terminus it’s a short walk to the Jurassic Centre, the sea front and pebble beach.
Trams run regularly from Easter to October and then a limited service in the winter including a Halloween ‘Tram of Terror’ and Christmas trams featuring a visit to Santa.
SA recommended the tramway after their visit in June 2016.
The Axe valley and Seaton Wetlands
The Axe estuary tidal salt marshes attract vast numbers of migrating birds every year along with keen twitchers hoping to spot a rare visitor. There are three wetland nature reserves in this area – Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh and Colyford Common all of which have hides for bird watching. Black Hole Marsh and Colyford Common have the most interesting footpaths for walkers and can be accessed from Colyford turn off the A3052 by Colyford post office and the footpath to the reserves is a short way down the lane on the left or there is a small car park at the back of Seaton Cemetery in the same lane.
Burrow Farm Gardens
Burrow Farm at Dalwood, near Axminster is known as East Devon’s Secret Garden. There are over 13 acres of beautiful gardens to explore, with views across the East Devon countryside. They’re open to the public daily from March to the end of October (although they may occasionally be closed for private functions). There’s a tea room with a sunny courtyard where you can enjoy a light lunch and home-made cakes. > Find out more in our blog.
Places to eat in the Axe Valley
The best place to eat in Seaton (in our opinion) is the Shed Steakhouse and Grill in Harbour Road where you’ll find good quality food in a pleasant environment.
If you’re looking for something more informal, then we also recommend Fryday’s, just off the seafront, where you’ll find some of the finest fish and chips in the area. You can eat in or, for the full sea side experience, take them away to the nearby pebble beach.
If you take a stroll along the seafront, at the westernmost end you’ll find the revitalised Hideaway café. On a sunny day it’s a great spot for a cup of tea, an ice cream or a light lunch overlooking Seaton Bay.
A D recommended the cream teas at the Mariners Hotel in Seaton (July 2013).
There are a couple of pubs in the tiny village of Axmouth, our favourite is the Ship Inn which has a large garden for sunny days.
If you’re arriving in Colyton by tram then the Tramstop cafe at the Colyton tram station offers a reasonable light lunch menu. However, it’s worth walking into Colyton and on the way you’ll pass Liddon’s Dairy tea rooms where you can find delicious home made food and great cream teas in a lovely location.
In Colyton itself we can recommend Sunday lunch at the Kingfisher pub, especially if it’s warm enough to sit in their sunny courtyard.
Further up the valley, Axminster is home to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage deli and canteen.
See our Devon restaurants page for more details.