Budleigh Salterton is a tranquil seaside town approximately 15 miles southeast of Exeter and situated within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The bay is unspoilt and beautiful whilst being part of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast – a 95 mile stretch of coast containing 185 million years of Earth’s history. The beach is clean and around 2 miles long and consists of unique pebbles which have been carried from France about 240 million years ago. The South West Coast Path borders the beach providing beautiful views over the sea and the countryside. The town has a gently running brook through it as well as an unspoilt Olde Worlde charm and there is an interesting variety of shops to be found as well as eateries and galleries in which to browse.
A Brief History
The Domesday Book records that salt panning was of great importance and that this went as far back as the Roman times or even the Iron Age, and that is partly where the town gets its name. The Salters belonged to the priory of Otterton and was run by the monks and the salt was the only food preservative at this time. The area from The Exe estuary to Sidmouth which includes many villages within East Devon is called Raleigh Country. Budleigh Salterton is included in this area and Sir Walter Raleigh was actually born in a farm, now known as Hayes Barton, in East Budleigh in 1552. Sir Walters’s father was a warden of the Church of all Saints and the oldest memorial in that church is that for his first wife Joan. It is thought Sir Walters’s love of the sea is from his time spent at Budleigh Salterton and this is immortalised in a famous painting by Sir John Everett Millais entitled ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’. The livelihood enjoyed by Budleigh Salterton was predominantly agriculture and fishing with some smuggling as well. The area around Budleigh Salterton due to its location to the River Otter enjoyed prosperity from the production of wool, wool dyeing and also ship building. However by the Tudor times the River Otter gradually became blocked with silt and this lead on to the production of lime. With the introduction of the railway at the beginning of the 20th century came a boost in the towns popularity as a resort and it is now as popular with residents as it is with tourists.
Points of Interest
The Otter estuary is a nature reserve created when the pebble bank separated it from the sea. There is a wheelchair friendly path that runs along the top of the pebble bank with viewing stations to provide uninterrupted views. You can expect to see little egrets, curlew, kingfishers, sand martins, lapwings and on a good day Iceland glaucous or American herring gulls. The river Otter and the Nature Reserve are also home to beavers, otters and other wildlife. A pleasant riverside walk leads to picturesque Otterton Mill where you can indulge in a Devon cream tea.
The Salem Chapel is a dissenter’s chapel which was built in 1719 and has an interesting history in which smuggling did play a part. Samuel Leat was a wealthy smuggler and also a minister at the church from 1768 to 1807 and after his death in 1817 a scandal developed over embezzled funds culminating in the desecration of his grave. The roof of the chapel is of unique construction and of great archaeological interest. Smuggled goods were stored in the huge attic which also had a hidden vantage point which acted as a look out for customs men. It is also said to be haunted.
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is open 363 days a year and includes a railway, museum, indoor and outdoor activity play areas, a shop and café and a plant centre.
Fairlynch Museum is quoted as being one of the prettiest museums in the South West. The museum is reopening from Easter and offers a range of activities as well as displays pertinent to the area for example on lace and information on Sir Walter Raleigh as well as the interesting geology in the area.
There are a variety of sports that can be enjoyed at Budleigh Salterton including fishing, golf, shooting at the rifle club, horse riding, cycling and walking.
There are the usual high street attractions including jewellers, men’s wear, ladies wear, gift shops, craft shops but also art galleries supporting local artists.
Where to Eat
There is a huge selection of eateries in Budleigh Salterton including Mcmillans Delicatessen and Delytes Delicatessen on the High Street. Public houses include The Feathers on the High Street and The Salterton Arms on Chapel Street. Coffee shops include the Oak Barn Coffee House, The Cosy Tea Pot, Earls Coffee House, Tea and Tittle Tattle and plenty more offering a traditional Devon cream tea. There are also excellent Fish and Chip shops and other take aways available.
The Food and Drink Festival is on early April and covers two days. There are cookery demonstrations, local food, beer and wine to buy and taste, live music and children’s entertainment. Fun for the whole family.
The Budleigh Jazz Festival this year will be held 21st to 23rd April and features the best of British and International jazz artists.
Gala Week starts on the 27th May through to 3rd June. There are different events each day suitable for the whole family. The proceeds go to support local charities.
7th – 15th July is the Budleigh Music Festival now in its 13th Year. This consists of classical concerts that you can attend during lunchtime or the evening by fantastic and distinguished performers.
The 9th annual Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival will be held on 13-17th September this year. There is an impressive number of authors and literary personnel to encourage young writers and primarily to focus on the power and importance of literature,
There are car parks behind the Public Hall, Rolle Mews on Fore Street, the Seafront and at Lime Kiln which is perfect for the beach.
ATM’s & Banks
There is a Lloyds Bank on Fore Street with a cash machine. Further cash machines can be found at the Coop on the High Street and at the Spar on Fore Street, plus money withdrawing facilities at the Post Office also on the High Street.
There are public toilets behind Budleigh Salterton’s Public Hall on Station Road, at Steamer Steps off Brook Road, at the far end of Marine Parade and finally at East Budleigh in Hayes Lane Car Park.