East Devon AONB

East Devon AONB, Devon, England

East Devon AONB © http://www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk

East Devon – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in the scenic county of Devon in south west of England. First designated a AONB back in 1963, the AONB has been established for over 50 years. The area covers 268 square kilometres covering 33% of the East Devon District making East Devon one of more compact AONBs in the UK. The area provides one of the finest examples of unspoilt scenic coastline and countryside in England, the area is famous for its picture postcard images of Devon.

The scenic coastline is noted for its scenic beauty, high cliffs, coves and the white chalk found at Beer Head. The AONB covers an area from close to Exmouth in the west to Sidmouth in the south to Honiton in the north to Lyme Regis in the east.

There are a number of distinctive landscape characteristics in the area including flat and high plateaux with heathland commons found mainly in the west. In the north the landscape is more hilly especially around Honiton, there are also areas with hedge bordered meadows.

The area covered by the AONB designation includes a number of coastal resorts including Budleigh Salterton, the largest town in the East Devon AONB and Seaton that attract many visitors each year. Visitors can enjoy seaside resorts with unspoilt countryside, some wonderful panoramic views, along with a number of local attractions, places of interest and tranquillity associated with the area.

The main industries in the AONB include agriculture, farming and tourism, there are a number of scenic villages located in the AONB Beer, Branscombe and Otterton. The area is important for local wildlife and biodiversity, the site is important for nature conservation and includes both Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and the Undercliffs National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The area is popular for kayaking, sailing, horse riding, golf, day trippers and walkers and cyclists with a range of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the unspoiled scenic landscapes both coastal and further inland and benefit from the peace and tranquillity showcasing the finest in the English countryside.

Quick Facts

East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1963

Population: 15,000

Size in square kilometres: 268

National Nature Reserves (NNRs): 1
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): 14
Main Settlements close by: Axminster, Honiton, Exeter and Exmouth.
Located in: East Devon.


East Devon AONB is located in the country of Devon in south west England, the area has long since been a popular once for visitors, there are a choice of coastal resorts popular with families and visitors of all ages. The AONB includes a mix of coastline and countryside offering something for everyone, in common with other AONBs the area has a rich history, ecology and geology. Within the AONB area there are no large cities and towns, rather the area includes smaller towns, villages and hamlets with larger cities such as Exeter located a few miles away. Overall the commercial development in the area is still relatively smaller scale when compared to other AONBs across the UK, presenting visitors with areas that are still unspoilt and mainly rural making the area popular for those seeking a quiet, rural retreat.

The location in East Dorset means the AONB is easily assessable from south west England, south east England and the Midlands and is approx 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours drive from London, taking it assessable as a day trip, short break or longer break destination from London and much southern England and the Midlands.

Tourist Information Centres are located at various locations in East Devon. There are tourist information centres are located in Budleigh Salterton, Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton and Sidmouth. Each of the centres has knowledgeable staff that can provide useful local knowledge on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres makes for a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area.

Local Accommodation includes a range of both historic and contemporary hotels, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, camping facilities and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Budleigh Salterton East Budleigh, Branscombe and Axmouth. There is accommodation available in the nearby towns of Sidmouth, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Exmouth and the city of Exeter all of which are located close by to the AONB and provide convenient locations from which to explore the AONB and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Within the AONB there are no large cities or major towns, visitors can see a number of charming, historic villages and hamlets each has its own character and history. Visiting the local villages and hamlets located across in the AONB on the coast and inland offers visitors an interesting insight in to local history, tradition and culture of the area. The compact towns and villages include a number of local attractions and places of interest to explore.

Local Towns & Villages include Budleigh Salterton located 18 miles south west of Honiton, the largest town in the AONB is located on the River Otter. The scenic town is known for being unspoilt retaining its charm and character, there is a 2 mile beach that is popular with visitors. The town is on the South West Coast Path with routes going west to Exmouth and east to Sidmouth. Golfing facilities are available at the East Devon Golf Club whilst there are a number of coastal walks available in a scenic setting for walking enthusiasts.

There are a range of shops in the town including a number of tea rooms, cafes and restaurants offering visitors with a choice of food and drinks. The high street includes a number of clothing and gift stores and a range of local amenities. The surrounding areas to the town provides a range of interesting walks, gardens, adventure walks and more.

Other local attractions include Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre is a compact museum and one of the few with a thatched roof that dates back to the 19th century. The Grade II listed building showcases both the geology and history of the local area and region with local archive and a number of exhibitions and exhibits including period costumes. There are exhibitions highlighting the lace industry including from Honiton and other areas in Devon. The Geological collection includes nodules, mineral clusters found in the cliffs. The Archaeological collection includes a number of artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age and includes remains from Roman sites.

Beer is a village located on the coast 10 miles south of Honiton in East Devon. Beer is located on the Jurassic Coast and forms part of the South West Coast Path. The village is noted for its picturesque cliffs and smugglers' cove that were once used to store contraband goods. The village provides visitors with a real life example of a picture perfect Devon village. Historically the village was synonymous with lace production and the fishing industry, the modern day economy is based on fishing and the tourist industry. Local attractions include the Pecorama Model Railway, the Beer Quarry Caves and Starre House, the oldest house in Beer built from local Beer stone. The Beer beach is a pebbled beach where visitors can find rubber mats on the steep beach to assist those wanting to take a beach walk.

Otterton is a scenic village located 16 miles south west of Honiton. Located next to the River Otter, the village is located one mile from Ladram Bay located on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The history of the village dates back to Saxon times, the village became an important settlement by 1000 AD. Local attractions include the church that dates back to the 19th century, whilst the village itself includes a number of cob and thatched cottages helping to preserve the history and character of the village.

Local attractions located close by include High Peak located less than a mile away, known for its 157 metres high cliff, excavation work has revealed habitation during the Iron Age, Roman period and the 6th to 8th centuries. Otterton Mill is a historic water mill located next to the River Otter in Devon, the complex of buildings includes a restaurant, shop, bakery, gallery in addition to the mill. The mill is famous for its stoneground wheatmeal flour, visitors can learn more about the ancient milling process and more. There is regular live music held at the venue along with a number of events and courses.

Axmouth is a village located in the East Devon District, 13 miles from Honiton. Located on the River Axe, the scenic village is home to a number of listed buildings in the village centre including a number of historic thatched cottages. Local attractions include the historic Church of St Michael's, noted for the Norman architecture, the Grade I listed building is known for the double aisle and historic fresco wall paintings. The village includes a campsite on the riverside providing facilities for visitors with caravans and tents.

Axmouth Estuary is an important wetlands site for birds and a popular spot for bird watchers to see a number of rare birds. The area includes picnic benches where visitors can enjoy a picnic in scenic surroundings. The area includes the Axecliff Golf Club, popular among golfing aficionados, offering a great location to enjoy a round of golf whilst enjoying inspiring sea views.

Beer Quarry Caves are located 10 miles south of Honiton in Devon. The underground tunnel complex is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), visitors can learn more about the caves and the fascinating history of the area with guided tours with knowledgeable tour guides. The caves have been compared to a large underground cathedral, the vast complex of caves are man made as a result of quarrying dating back to Roman times. The underground quarry provided stone for a number of cathedrals across the UK including St Paul's and Exeter Cathedrals. Visitors can see the Roman, Saxon, Norman and Modern sections and see ancient documents, photos, artefacts and tools used in those eras. The museum provides an interesting and educational day tip for the whole family.

Musbury Hill Fort is located 10 miles east of Honiton, the site is under the care of the National Trust. The Iron Age fort is regarded as being some what mysterious with little known about its history, the fort is located above the village of Musbury in East Devon. Visitors can see some splendid views including the rural splendour of the Axe Valley and out towards another National Trust property Shute Barton. There are a number of footpaths close by and visitors can further explore the ancient site in a scenic countryside setting.

Walking is among the most popular activities in the AONB and surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The East Devon Way is a 40 miles route that goes through the heart of the AONB from Exmouth to Lyme Regis. The South West Coast Path goes through East Devon offering walkers varied landscapes, geology, scenery and going to villages and seaside towns. There are a number of routes available, the range of walks and terrain in the area means there is something to suit most tastes and abilities. Walking in the area provides an environmentally friendly, cost effective and fun way to get closer to nature, get off the beaten track and discover the finest in the local countryside.

Cycling provides a cost efficient and fun way to explore the East Devon AONB and the surrounding areas in an environmentally friendly way, get fit and see local attractions and places of interest up close. The area includes a range landscapes including chalk downland, valleys, heathland and a varied coastline. There are a choice of cycle routes in the area, including the Buzzard Route, an 80 miles that includes valleys, heathlands and hilltops and more.

Visitors to the East Devon AONB in the south west of England can enjoy a scenic area with plenty of open spaces, a varied landscape featuring the coastline, countryside and historic local towns and villages. The relatively rural nature of the area and lack of large towns and cities mean, the area is an ideal getaway for visitors after a tranquil location offering the great outdoors ad seaside adventures.

How to Get There

East Devon AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The market town of Honiton in East Devon is conveniently located next to the AONB. Honiton is located 17 miles north east of Exeter and 155 miles from central London. From London, take the A4 then M4, then at junction 4B take the M25(S) continue on the M25 until junction 12 and exit on to the M3, continue on the M3 until junction 8. At junction 8 exit on to the A303 toward Salisbury/Andover, then take the A30 then the A35 that goes towards Honiton. The approx journey time is 3 hours 20 minutes to 4 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Honiton, has regular services to and from London Waterloo station, the journey time is 3 hours. There are regular services from London Paddington station to Exeter St David's station and from Exeter St David's there are regular services to Honiton station. The approx journey time is 3 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours 45 minutes depending on services, connections and time of day.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Exeter in Devon. The approx journey time is approx 4 hours 5 minutes to 4 hours 45 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. From Exeter there are bus services available to Honiton including routes 4, 4A and 4B. Bus services are provided by Stagecoachbus Coach services to Exeter are provided by services are provided by National Express.

Contact Details

East Devon AONB Partnership
4 East Devon Business Centre
Heathpark Way
EX10 8HL

Telephone: +44 (0)1404 46663

Website: East Devon AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: East Devon (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to East Devon ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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