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The Long Range
Vales Road, Budleigh Salterton,
Devon, EX9 6HS

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You get the best of both worlds with this walk in East Devon. There are fantastic views along the River Otter estuary - with lots of birdlife to see - and part of the walk also takes in a section of the East Devon coast which has been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

The walk begins in the village of Otterton, where there is plenty of on-road, free-of-charge parking.

The bridge at Otterton
The walk starts here...
At the bottom end of the village is a picturesque bridge over the River Otter, where you start the walk following the right bank of the Otter.

This walk was taken in the middle of winter, which is the perfect time to see the river in full flow, and the birdlife in full flight.
The River Otter Heritage Coast
Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth
Devon's Triassic Coast
 Otterton to Ladram Bay

Otterton to Ladram Bay

Devon's Triassic Coast

Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth

The River Otter Heritage Coast

After around half-an-hour walking along the river, with open fields to your right, you reach a road. Turn left here and go over the bridge, so that you are now on the left bank of the widening estuary.

This is the Otter Estuary Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest - an area of reed bed and grazing marsh (Grid Ref: SY 076 822). The 23-hectare reserve, which is managed by the Clinton Devon Estates, is full of bird varieties at this time of year.

If you follow the sign posts around the reserve, with open fields now on your left, you will see a bird hide half-way up the hill overlooking the estuary. From here, you can spy on all the goings-on down on the river. During this walk, there were literally hundreds and hundreds of birds enjoying a swim.

River Otter
The River Otter's meandering estuary
Many of the birds come here to get away from colder winter climes, and to enjoy all the food on offer on the estuary. Among them are wildfowl and waders, redshank, greenshank, dunlin, common sandpiper, ringed plover, grey plover, curlew and snipe. To name but a few.

Having had a little rest in the bird hide, the walk then continues to the mouth of the River Otter, where you can look across to the seaside town of Budleigh Salterton.

This is where you join up with the South West Coast Path eastwards - and upwards! There is a climb, a drop and another ascent along this stretch of the coast, which is part of the newly-named World Heritage Site.

The prehistoric cliffs are a dramatic sight, and on a clear day you can see High Peak and Sidmouth in the distance. This was not a clear day, however...

The Heritage Coast near Budleigh Salterton
The coastline just up from Budleigh Salterton
It takes around an hour or so to walk from the road bridge at the Nature Reserve, to a footpath sign, which sends you inland and back to Otterton.

After the hilly coastal section, the rest of the walk is nice and easy.

The path, which can be muddy in places, disects typical Devon farmland - all red soil and rolling hills.

And, once back in Otterton, what better way to round off the walk than to have a pub lunch in the King's Arms. Like many other rural pubs in Devon, the King's Arms also doubles up as the local function rooms - the hub of the community.

In all, the walk takes between two and three hours, depending on how long you decide to linger to take in the views. The going is moderate - but make sure you've got appropriate footwear, as it can be muddy in places during wet weather.

Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2hrs-2hrs 30 mins
Going: Moderate

Quick Links

River Otter bridge
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Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth

This walk starts erasily with a flat walk along the back of the beach at Budleigh Salterton. At the end of the beach is the mouth of the river Otter, in order to cross it's a little walk through a nature reserve to a bridge, then a walk back to the coast. From here it is a fairly short walk to the spectacular Ladram Bay. From Ladram Bay, it's quite a tough walk with a steep climb to the cliff top and through a wood. There is a small amount of road walking just before you start the descent into Sidmouth, where there is again a small section of road walking. You can descend into Sidmouth via Jacobs Ladder.

Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2hrs-2hrs 30 mins
Going: Moderate with a steep climb

Budleigh Salterton is a small quiet town. There are a few shops a pleasant beach and a couple of pubs. The coast path starts at the back of the shingle beach towards the river Otter. At the mouth of the river Otter you will need to head in land to cross the river to get back to Otterhead. This is a pleasant and easy walk along the side of the river through a nature reserve. Cross the river on the bridge.

The path then heads back to the coast past a Bat Conservation Project to Ladram Bay. Ladram Bay is a pleasant secluded cove with a sand and shingle beach. There are two large red stacks of rock here which make the scenery particular spectacular and are popular with sea birds. There is a pub here if you want refreshments, as the next part of the walk is quite tough.

From Ladram Bay it is a steep climb to Peak Hill, which gives good views, then into a wood. At the end of the woods the path joins the road for a short distance, the coast path continues and is signed to the right.

From here it is a steep descent into Sidmouth, via Jacobs Ladder. There are lots of seats all down this part of the path into Sidmouth. The path continues behnd the beach and round the small headland to the main promenade in the town. The beach is sandly at low tide and shingle / rock at high tide. Coastal erosion is a big problem in this area which is what the rocks out in the sea are for. There are lots of shops and hotels in the town and plenty of places for refreshments.

Getting Back. Should you wish not to walk back, then Stagecoach Devon bus service 157 runs approximatly every hour, Mondays to Saturdays and every two hours on summer Sundays (there is no service on winter Sundays). The journey takes around 30 minutes. For more information on these bus services call 01392 427711
Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth
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Devon's Triassic Coast

This walk starts erasily with a flat walk along the back of the beach at Budleigh Salterton. At the end of the beach is the mouth of the river Otter, in order to cross it's a little walk through a nature reserve to a bridge, then a walk back to the coast. From here it is a fairly short walk to the spectacular Ladram Bay. From Ladram Bay, it's quite a tough walk with a steep climb to the cliff top and through a wood. There is a small amount of road walking just before you start the descent into Sidmouth, where there is again a small section of road walking. You can descend into Sidmouth via Jacobs Ladder.

Distance: 7 miles
Length: 1 stile; generally fairly level with one climb of 40m/130ft and another of 30m/100ft.

The walk starts at the Limekiln Car Park at the mouth of the River Otter, at the eastern end of Budleigh Salterton. If arriving in the town by bus, alight at the Public Hall. Walk back to the High Street, turn left and continue along Fore Street and the seafront promenade to the car park.

Budleigh Salterton is known for its pebble beach. These pebbles are a feature of the geology of this part of Devon and they help to form the extensive common lands inland of the town. They are a result of action by the sea and rivers which covered this area in the Triassic era, over 200 million years ago.

Head for the rear right hand corner of the car park and follow the surfaced path alongside the Otter Estuary, signed as the Coast Path.

The Coast Path diverts inland here to get around the estuary. Although a relatively small estuary, the marsh and wetland has made it a valuable resource for wildlife and it is maintained as a nature reserve by the Devon Wildlife Trust. Look out for the information boards alongside the path to discover some of the estuary's nature conservation interest. This length of path is maintained as suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and has a number of viewpoints over the estuary.

The all-ability path ends at White Bridge, the bridge which crosses the Otter. This also carries the Coast Path, and the walk returns this way.

To continue on the walk, at White Bridge follow the path opposite, still alongside the Otter, signed to Otterton. The river gets its name from the animals which used to frequent it, and this name dates back to Saxon times. In more recent years otters virtually disappeared from the river, but are now making a welcome comeback. However, there is little chance of seeing one of these shy, largely nocturnal creatures. More likely to be seen is the brilliant flash of a kingfisher, these beautiful birds being relatively common here.

Keep ahead alongside the Otter at a junction of paths.

Off to the left is a short cut back to Budleigh Salterton. To use this, follow the red circles on the footpath signs.

The aqueduct coming into the Otter here carries water from Budleigh Brook, on the western side of the valley. It was originally built to help drain the water meadows in order to reclaim the land for agriculture. It dates to the early years of the 19th century.

Pass a footbridge over the Otter, then continue ahead through a gate.

As the path approaches a road bridge ahead, the distinctive appearance of a small country railway station can be seen over to the left. Now a private house, this was East Budleigh station on the branch line which ran through the valley. It was closed as part of the Beeching cuts in 1967.

Climb up to the road and carefully turn right and cross the bridge to the village of Otterton.

Immediately on the right is Otterton Mill, with its artists' studios, working mill exhibition, crafts and refreshments. It dates from the 18th century and is on the site of a monastic mill which originally belonged to Mont St. Michel in Brittany. It is an important example of a working water mill little altered since the mid-19th century.

Continue ahead through the village street, passing on the left the village pub, the Kings Arms, and the village Post Office and stores.

Otterton is a very attractive village lined with thatched cottages, some of which date back as far as the 16th century. It is also lent charm by the stream running the length of the village alongside the street.

At the road junction at the end of the village street turn sharp right into Lea Road. At the top turn left and follow the quiet lane uphill. Bear right at the next junction, still walking uphill.

At the top of the lane bear left opposite Stantyway Farm, signposted to the Coast Path.

Don't be surprised if you are puffing - the name Stantyway means steep way so our ancestors obviously felt the same.

Keep to the path, then bear right approaching Monks Wall. Cross the stile at the end and follow the hedge ahead on the right.

On the left there are superb views along the coast of the World Heritage Site, Ladram Bay prominent in the foreground. The red sandstone cliffs also owe their origins to the Triassic river systems. Beyond, the views take in Sidmouth and on to Beer Head, the most westerly chalk outcrop in England.

Continue down to meet the Coast Path

To the left, Ladram Bay has seasonal shops and a pub.

Turn right on the Coast Path, signposted to Budleigh Salterton. The path climbs to a World War II lookout, then continues to the viewpoint of Brandy Head.

This name reflects the importance smuggling once had on what was a remote coast in the 17th and 18th centuries.

To the right the view stretches down the coast to Straight Point. The walk start and finish point at Budleigh Salterton can be seen in the valley ahead.

Follow the Coast Path as it descends from Brandy Head and then continues down to the mouth of the Otter.

Budleigh Salterton is tantalisingly close here, but there is no crossing of the Otter at its mouth and wading is not recommended because of the depth and the strength of the current. This spot does give a good view of the ridge of pebbles across the mouth of the Otter, forcing the river to divert to the east. The longshore drift causing this diversion also results in spits across the mouths of other rivers in the area, most notably that at Dawlish Warren across the mouth of the Exe.

The Coast Path is now followed behind the pine trees which form a prominent landmark for Budleigh Salterton. Continue parallel to the river until the path reaches a lane at South Farm. Go on to the lane and fork left to the bridge over the Otter.

This is White Bridge again, passed on the outward leg.

Turn left immediately after White Bridge on the all-ability path back to the Limekiln car park at Budleigh Salterton.
Devon's Triassic Coast
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Park carefully in Fore Street near Otterton Mill. With your back to the mill, walk east past the Kings Arms, following the leat upstream past typically Westcountry 16th- and 17th-century thatched cottages with external chimney stacks and garden walls built with local flints. At the top of Fore Street, turn right into Lea Road. At the end of Lea Road, turn left at the T junction. Turn almost immediately right into a path Unmetalled Road. Continue ahead on the path. After 450m, join a farm track, which soon takes a 90Ëš left turn. At the end of the track, turn left along a lane. Continue for 100m and fork right and almost immediately right again along another narrow lane which ends at a house. Continue ahead on the Public Footpath to a kissing gate. Turn right along the Public Footpath, keeping the field hedge on your right.

Turn left at the end of the field, signed Coast Path Ladram Bay. The impressive succession of cliffs begins with Ladram Bay and its red sandstone seastacks. Peak Hill is next, with Sidmouth beyond. The line continues past the white chalk of Beer Head to Golden Cap, with Chesil Beach and Portland Bill in the far distance. Continue through a kissing gate at the far end of the field, signed Cliff Top Route Provided by Ladram Bay Caravan Park. At the far end of the next field, follow the short path ahead down to a lane. Either divert right to see the beach, or leave the Coast Path here, turning left, then after 20m (just before the telephone booths and caf) turn right along a track. (Please note that the path is marked on the 2005 Explorer map as a lane, but it is not fit for trafficnow.) After 200m, follow the path as it bends 90Ëš left. Continue uphill to Sea View Farm.

Turn left along the lane. Then, after only 30m, turn right, signed County Road along a green track. After 400m, keep left at a junction, then at a T-junction of paths, turn left, signed County Road.

Reaching a tarred lane turn right and almost immediately left, signed Public Right of Way Rydon Lane. Continue ahead and downhill towards the river Otter. Turn left up four steps to a kissing gate. Follow the bankside path through fields parallel to the river Otter. Continue through a kissing gate and continue ahead down an enclosed path into Otterton, an Old English settlement name meaning farmstead on the river where otters live, and they still do!
A short diversion right brings you to Otterton Mill. One of the three largest mills in the county at the time of Domesday Book (1086), it later became the manor mill for Otterton Priory. Apart from closure in 1959 and its re-opening as a working museum in 1979, Otterton Mill has been in constant production for over 1,000 years.
There is a great deal of interest at the mill (open daily 10-5), including the millmachinery; craft workshops and an art gallery displaying a wide range of media including ceramics, painting, photography, glass, textiles, wood and metal. There is also the award winning caf/restaurant and the bakery which uses the mills own flour, as well as art, craft and cook shops. See for special events including milling days and concerts.
Nearby, St Michaels church retains its medieval priory tower. Next to it is the priory, the remains of the Duke family house incorporating masonry from the medieval priory.
Otterton to Ladram Bay

Distance: 3 1/2 miles
Length: Gentle/Moderate
Type: Beach
Time: 2 hours

This gentle 3-mile walk starts at a working watermill and follows a cliff-top route with fabulous views to to Ladram Bay.

The circular walk follows a coast path, farm track, riverside paths and quiet lanes.

Otterton to Ladram Bay

Local Walks

The River Otter and Heritage Coast

Part of the East Devon coast has been named a World Heritage site because of its prehistoric age. The coast here is magnificent, and you can combine a walk along the top of the cliffs with a riverside stroll along the River Otter - which is a haven for thousands and thousand of birds.
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