Devon is a land of many contrasts. Being beside the seaside on the north or south coast is a world away from pottering about at Budleigh Salterton. Here, the long pebbly beach and calm waters near this East Devon town make you stop and sit down. I mean, you could swim or paddleboard or kayak. Or you could just find a bench along the flat seafront and not do very much at all. Budleigh has enough going on to provide an interesting view. It’s part of the world-famous Jurassic Coast and near the Otter Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There’s been a huge restoration project going on here over the past couple of years to enhance the downstream part of the River Otter, its estuary and immediate surroundings. Although controversial at times, the scheme had to happen because the existing 200-year-old sea defences were starting to fail. The construction phase is now complete and it’s hoped there will be centuries of benefits for people and wildlife. Migrating birds and waders including white-fronted geese, glossy ibis and avocet, are often spotted in this important area of mudflats and saltmarsh.

Budleigh is also where you can enjoy another rare sight – local fishermen selling their catch on the beach.  Fish, prawns, crab and lobster are available to buy directly from the boats, drawn up on the shingle.

Old-fashioned charm floats around here with the scent of the spring floral displays and gorgeously kept gardens. It’s unspoilt and, yes, a great place to retire to, but Budleigh has also attracted a few ‘urban downshifters’ of late who come looking for a gentler pace of life.

In fact, the town has been recognised as one of the 10 best places to live in the UK by the Sunday Times on account of the lovely beaches and good schools.

National attention turns to Budleigh every year, however, during the town’s famous literary festival. The celebration of books and writing attracts some of the biggest names in the business and is backed by the eager local community.

Culture, charm and a reminder that looking for shiny pebbles is sometimes all you need to for an hour or so is what makes a trip to this part of the county so special. Everywhere else can wait.

Great British Life: Budleigh Unwrapped is the place to go for your zero-waste foodie purchases. Budleigh Unwrapped is the place to go for your zero-waste foodie purchases. (Image: Budleigh Unwrapped)

Food and drink

Marco’s Italian (High Street) for your pizza and pasta favourites, plus homemade gelato. Brook Kitchen is an artisan café and bar in the heart of town. The venue also hosts art and foodie events. Budleigh Fish Café (Chapel Street) is perfect for a traditional takeaway with fish and chips cooked to order. Budleigh Unwrapped (High Street) is the place to go for your zero-waste foodie purchases. Fancy some furniture and a coffee? Oak Barn Furnishings (Knowle Hill) has a cosy coffee lounge with a seasonal menu offering a variety of homemade cakes, tray bakes and scones, as well as light lunch options. Refuel before browsing the collections of furniture and home accessories. Stroll along the river from Budleigh to Otterton and enjoy lunch at Otterton Mill, an award-winning café, restaurant, farm shop and artisan bakery.


Great British Life: Relax in stylish surroundings at Poplar Cottage. Relax in stylish surroundings at Poplar Cottage. (Image: Luxury Coastal)

Where to stay

Poplar Cottage is a beautifully styled double-fronted Georgian home in the heart of town, let through Luxury Coastal but available through all the usual holiday home websites. Stoneborough House B&B is within walking distance of town, the Otter Estuary, the sea front and beach. There are three elegantly furnished and comfortable en suite bedrooms, one with a superking-sized bed. The breakfast menu includes (at last count) 15 different homemade jams and marmalades. Farther out towards Exmouth is Quentance Farm B&B and self-catering (Salterton Road). Family-owned Ladram Bay Holiday Park has a wide range of accommodation to suit all holiday needs. Their luxury lodges have hot tubs. The site recently launched a newly restored thatched cottage that sleeps six. The Long Range Hotel (Vales Road) offers bed and breakfast in a peaceful setting, ten minutes’ walk from the beach.



Great British Life: Pick up a book from a beach hut during the literary festival. Pick up a book from a beach hut during the literary festival. (Image: @camerafirm)

Read up

Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, which runs from September 18 to 22, is a highly acclaimed regional book festival, bringing together bestselling authors and leading thinkers. The programme also includes workshops for writers and family events. The Spring Weekend took place last month ((March)).

Cottage collections

The Fairlynch Museum, housed in a little thatched cottage, is home to nationally important costume and geological collections, plus resources for local and family history researchers. It opens on Good Friday.

Salty by name

Budleigh Salterton, formerly Salterton or Salterne, gets its name from the manufacture of salt in large salt pans which were constructed at the lower part of the River Otter.