In Sidmouth town the red, East Devon cliffs stand out like guardians either side. The town itself lies between within the Sid valley, along the river by the same name, leading out to the sea. The town is a traditional seaside town in the summer, full of life aong the promenade and in the tourist town, seagull cries amidst the sound of waves and children’s delighted shrieks of joy as they rush and play on the beach. At one end is the Ham, with its fishing boats, sailing club and lifeboat. Amidst the boats is a fish shop which sells the latest catch. Delicious on a summer night’s beach barbecue, with white wine and chunky chips made from Devon farm potatoes. Many of the restaurants source their fish from here, so you can be guaranteed a delicious meal. Try the local cider too, produces in farms up the Sid vale. It adds and enhances the taste of lunchtime fish and chips admirably.
at the other end of Sidmouth sea front is Jacob’s Ladder and its beach. Here it is a little more sandy and broader, with a row of beach huts and a clifftop cafe, which serves perfect traditional Devon cream teas. The gardens behind the tea shop are beautiful with breathtaking views and there is a wartime pillar box that has been decorated inside with authentic memorabilia, viewable through a tiny window. Walking up the cliff the other way is worthwhile. There is a nice walk West into the forest path, from which you have great views of the bay from amidst the trees.
In the town centre, there are various small tourist shops and cafes as well as some traditional stores. Of particular interest will be the fudge shop, with many delicious types of clotted cream fudge. In the square you will see a department store and, walking up, you will notice the excellent pubs that are well worth a visit. During the height of summer, in early August, they come alive with Sidmouth’s International Folk festival. The town is filled with the sounds of traditional music emanating from the pubs. A particular favourite is the Anchor, not far from the square and the volunteer, further up, which is known for its street players, such as those who told the story of Jack Rattenbury, a local smuggler, and his exploits with the excise men.
There are walks through the centre of town, along the “Byes” which is a long park that runs the course of the River Sid. Nic in summer, you will see dog walkers and children playing football along here. Right at the top, if you keep walking, you will reach Sidford and the local rugby fields. In Sidford, its worth going for a pint of ale or a pub lunch in the Blue Ball Inn, just up the road, to the East, on the hillside. Keep walking up the hill and you can turn right again to walk back down into Sidmouth. It forms a nice day out and is great if you have dogs or energetic children. If you have more energy you can walk to the top of the hill and then walk through the forest, again bearing right, back down along the cliff path towards Sidmouth at the Ham end of the seafront.
Many people retire in Sidmouth because of its traditional charm, sea and sun. Its a good location for families in the summer, with a lot for all to do. The hotels and guest houses are reasonable and there are various types for all comers. The four star Victoria Hotel is usually booked well in advance. Guest houses like the Salty Monk in Sidford can provide a cheaper option.
Sidmouth is a good base for a holiday. The town itself has much to offer and it is a great starting point for visiting other local seaside towns, it is near to the historic city of Exeter and other interesting places like Honiton, a former lace industry town and Ottery St Mary, famous for its Tar Barrels. As a rule Sidmouth reminds you of how beautiful England can be, particularly in the South West and it is well worth a visit.