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What to do and see

Torbay View is ideally situated for exploring the town and its surroundings. It is within a few minutes flat walking distance of the town centre either via the Esplanade or inland via Church Street. Equally, within a couple of minutes you can be strolling along the seafront and beach.

The best starting point to find out about Sidmouth is the Sidmouth town website. Here you will find information on where to eat, shop, what to do and see. You will also find lots of ideas and information at the Visit Sidmouth website.

Below are a few ideas on what to do and see from us. Click on links to jump to each section. You can also download a pdf version of our information booklet which is provided for you at the apartment.We welcome suggestions from visitors. Let us know what you think is worth visiting or doing.

Particularly useful information for families is to be found at www.localfamilystuff.com. This includes:

Places to go with children
Rainy days
Family friendly cafes
Parks

The Tourist Information Centre is situated in Ham Lane. Tel: 01395 516441
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-17:00   Sun 10:00-16:00

Visit the weather page for the latest information from the Met office on weather in the area, as well as links to tide information websites.

Check out the current view of the Esplande on the Visit Sidmouth webcam

Visit the transport page for information on traffic.

Sidmouth town
 

Suggestions:

Stroll along the beach
Jacob's Ladder
Connaught Gardens
Sidmouth Museum
Guided town walks
Norman Lockyer Observatory
Donkey Sanctuary
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens
Walking
Water sports and coastal cruises
Golf
Eating out
Shopping
Theatre and Cinema

Sidmouth beach


Stroll along the beach

A most relaxing stroll takes you west along the seafront  towards Jacob's ladder. At low tide walk down onto the sandy beach and explore the many rock pools and enjoy the views back towards the town and along the Jurassic Coast. When the tide is in you can take the Millennium Walkway beneath the cliffs round to Jacob's Ladder. Beyond the Ladder ascend to Connaught Gardens, either using the Ladder or the gentler zig-zag path and stop off for a drink and a cake at the Clock Tower Cafe before wandering back down to the Esplanade taking in the lovely views over Sidmouth. Since the storms of 2013, there is now a lovely long sandy beach exposed at low tide beyond Jacob’s ladder if you wish to continue your stroll.

The beach at sunset


Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder itself is the tall white set of steps that have been constructed to link the Gardens to the beach below. This is not, however, the first structure in this location. An access in this area actually dates back to the mid 19th Century when steps were cut into the cliff to give access to the beach below which had been largely inaccessible until then. This developed into a cart track that was used to transport lime (brought in by boat from places such as Branscombe) to the lime kiln which has now been converted into the Tea Rooms.

The ongoing cliff erosion caused the path to fall in 1870 but access to the beach had become so popular with the Victorian population by this time that an extremely long ladder was built, like Jacob’s ladder to heaven, hence its name. The steep ladder was not popular though, being difficult to use in the dress of the day, and so a new ladder was constructed in much the same style as the steps of today. The chine with the zig-zag path down to the beach was not created until the 1950’s, the esplanade walk around the base of the cliff being completed a few years later.

The beach looking east at Jacob's Ladder
Tbe beach beyond Jacobs Ladder looking east towards Sidmouth


Connaught Gardens

Connaught gardens are a few minutes walk from Torbay View at Peak Hill.  They offer a peaceful and relaxing environment to walk in whilst children and dogs can let off steam on the long grassy slope of Peak Hill which affords spectacular views back over Sidmouth and the Jurassic Coast.  Peak Hill slope is also one of the finest places to watch the Red Arrows perform when they visit Sidmouth. You don’t need to climb far up the slope to find yourself above the planes as they perform their breathtaking manoeuvres below you. Don't miss the concerts by the Sidmouth Town Band which are held during the summer on Sunday evenings in the Gardens.

During your visit to the Gardens, here are five activities not to be missed.

1. Take a look at the plants in the showhouse: This contains a range of carnivorous plants and cacti. The sweet smell as you enter the showhouse comes from the citrus tress along the back wall.

2. Stroll through the Topiary Garden: This small peaceful garden with its sunken centre and water feature was originally the kitchen garden for Clifton Cottage immediately to the east.

3. Explore ‘The Jungle’: This winding route takes you through the overhanging Holm Oaks and has changed little since the Gardens were open. A must for children with vivid imaginations – see if they can spot the fossilised shell on the grotto arch.

4. Enjoy the views along the cliffs: Some of the finest views along the Jurassic Cliffs of this World Heritage Site are to be seen from Connaught Gardens. Look west through the gothic arch from the Lime Kiln Garden and be amazed.

5. Relax with a cup of tea or ice cream: The "Les Routiers Guide" recommended Lime Kiln Tea Rooms - they offer anything from a refreshing warm drink to a fine meal. Ice cream is also available in the kiosk below.


Sidmouth Museum

Opening hours: (28 March-1 November)

Monday: 1.00 - 4.00pm
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Sunday: Closed

Situated alongside the lych gate of the Parish church, Sidmouth Museum celebrates 240 million
years of history. It offers something for everyone with an interest in the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, local history and archaeology.

Sidmouth museum is a fantastic volunteer-run museum celebrating over 240 million years of Sidmouth’s varied history. Displayed in a Regency house, the exhibitions show Sidmouth’s development, from a fishing village, to the Regency and Victorian times up to the present day. The museum offers something for everyone with an interest in the World heritage Jurassic Coast, archaeology and the local area.

On permanent display are numerous fine prints, paintings and old photographs which give the perfect insight into life in and around Sidmouth in times gone by. The geological display in the Land and Man room describes the Jurassic Coast, and items from the Victorian era show what life was like then. Additionally many famous residents and visitors are commemorated, including Norman Lockyer whose observatory is nearby. Young people are also well catered for with their own Children’s Area and Special Activity Days. Previous events have involved a Big Draw Day and a Sing Along Geology walk.

The Museum shop offers an interesting selection of local books, prints, fossils and minerals.   The Museum is run entirely by volunteers under the expert guidance of the curator, Dr. Robert Symes OBE and is open from April to October.

Guided town walks

The museum organises free guided town walks from April - October as follows:

The Tuesday morning walk (11am) takes in the Western side of the town and uncovers information about interesting items such as:

  • A Royal Holiday Cottage
  • King Chit
  • The Field by the Fort
  • Cotmaton to Coburg
  • Strawberry Hill

Wednesday afternoon strolls (2pm) along the esplanade from the River Sid to Jacob ’s ladder provide an introduction to the World Heritage Jurassic Coast

Thursday morning (11am) examines the history behind the Eastern side of town and looks at, among others:

  • Blackmore Bargains
  • The Horse’s Belly Ford
  • The Byes
  • Elysian Fields
The Sid Vale Association also organises a variety of different walking activites in the surrounding countryside.
 
Sidmouth Museum
 
Sidmouth guided town walk: sights

The Norman Lockyer Observatory

Tel: 01297 680 209 
Email: enquiries@normanlockyer.org 
website: www.normanlockyer.org

The Norman Lockyer Observatory  just outside Sidmouth is a historic working optical observatory and an educational centre for science, especially astronomy, meteorology, amateur radio and sciences of the coast and countryside. The Society promotes public awareness of and interest in science, and supports science education in schools, colleges and universities. It is operated by The Norman Lockyer Observatory Society, a registered charity.

The Observatory was established in 1912 by Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer to continue his astronomical research when his South Kensington observatory was closed. Now it provides a facility at which individuals and groups may participate in projects and pursue recreational study of science in a practical way.

Click here for 2014 opening times and events.

A visit to the Observatory will normally take about 2 hours - longer for an evening visit if the sky is clear enough for the telescopes to be in use. It consists of a planetarium presentation, a tour of the exhibition area and the telescope domes and possibly a demonstration of the radio station and/or weather satellite reception.

The Observatory is about 2 km east of Sidmouth and 0.5 km from the coast. It is on the north side of Salcombe Hill Road which runs between the town and Trow Farm, where it joins the east-west A3052. At Sidford there is a junction with traffic lights where the north-south A375 crosses the east-west A3052. Travelling east from this junction, crossing the River Sid and starting to climb Trow Hill, one comes to Stevens Cross. Turn right here, going along Sid Road through Fortescue, and after 2km turn left up Salcombe Hill towards the Observatory.

 
Norman Lockyer Observatory
 

The Donkey Sanctuary

Slade House Farm
Sidmouth EX10 0NU
Tel: 01395 578222
Website: www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Opening times:  open 365 days a year from 9.00 am to dusk with free admission.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a UK based charity working worldwide to improve conditions for donkeys and mules. Its main headquarters at Slade Farm are open to the public. There are no commercial attractions - just gently rolling countryside with walks around the fields where you can meet the donkeys (there are around 500), who adore the fuss and attention received from visitors. Donkeys of all ages are resident at Slade Farm but a large percentage are elderly and remain here in order to be close to the veterinary hospital.

Visitors are free to spend as much time as they wish meeting the donkeys in the Main Yard where they wander at will. These donkeys live in the main barn with the other residents, some of which are over 40 years of age. The Donkey Sanctuary is a working farm and from time to time it is necessary to close certain areas to the public, where donkeys may be recovering from illness or other issues.
The Nature Centre (open April-September) is set within a small coastal woodland, bursting with wildlife. Follow the walks through the woods, around the meadow and down to the Jurassic Coast. Try activities and you will be surprised how much there is to learn about nature.

For visitors who would like to see the donkeys out in the fields, there are number of walks around the Sanctuary. A guide containing all of the walks with information about what you will see on each of the walks is available to purchase from the Visitor's Centre.
Situated at the heart of The Donkey Sanctuary, the Hayloft restaurant is the ideal place to take a breather during your visit. This former barn for donkeys has been superbly renovated into a rustic and relaxing restaurant with windows overlooking the donkeys in the Main Yard.

 
Donkey Sanctuary

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

East Budleigh EX9 7BJ  
Tel: 01395 568465
Open all year 10am-5.30pm summer & 10am - 4.30pm winter
Daily Admission prices 2011:
•Adults £8.95
•Family (2 adults, 2 children) £25.95
•Children 2-16 £6.95 Children under 2yrs free
•Concessions £7.95
•Dogs £1.00 (Dogs must be kept on a short lead at all times, they are not allowed in the Restaurant area, Orangeries and Childrens Play Areas. However, there is outside undercover seating). 

Spanning nearly 300 years of horticultural history, these magnificent gardens are set in East Devon's picturesque Otter Valley, some 4 miles from Sidmouth just outside Colaton Raleigh. The superbly landscaped park combines 18th century tranquillity with modern amenities to provide all year round enjoyment for everyone of all ages including historic glasshouses, a countryside museum, the Bicton Woodland Railway train ride, nature trail, maze, mini golf, indoor and outdoor children’s play complexes, ice-free skating, restaurant and shop. Click here for a short video of what there is to see at Bicton.

 

Walking

The superb walking opportunities are one of the main attractions for many visitors to this area.  Sidmouth is on both the East Devon Way and the South West coastal path. 

A guide to the East Devon Way: price £4.95 is available from many local shops and tourist information centres. .A free leaflet on the Jurassic Coast is also available as well as the official guide “A walk Through Time” price £4.95.  A copy of this is available at Torbay View for your use, but please leave it here for others to enjoy.

Useful OS maps:
Landranger 1:50,000 no 192 Exeter and Sidmouth
Explorer 1:25,000 no 115 Exmouth and Sidmouth

For information on the wider network of walking routes in Devon obtain the free brochure “Discover Devon – Walking” from local Tourist Information Centres.

Information on the Devon walking network, including the East Devon Way, is also available at  www.discoverdevon.com

There are leaflets at Torbay View for you to take on two walks starting (or ending) at Torbay View, one circular, one one way.

The Sid Vale Association organises monthly walks.

 
Walking on Sidmouth beach

Water Sports and coastal cruises

Sidmouth and adjacent coastal resorts offer a variety of water sports from sailing, kayaking to surfing, kitesurfing, jetski and powerboating for the more adventurous. Jurassic paddle sports are based on the beach, a couple of minutes from the flat. Here you can rent out paddle boards and sit on kayaks as well as wetsuit s. Coast and river cruises are available all year round from Exmouth and from May - September from Sidmouth. When the weather does not permit sea swimming, Sidmouth has an excellent public pool next door to the Tourist Information Centre in Ham Lane (about 5 minutes’ walk from Torbay View), check out the swimming times (you will need to scroll to the bottom of the page for times). There are also classes and other activities at the centre. For further information Tel: 01395 577057.

Useful links:

Jurassic Sports (paddleboards and kyaks)
East Devon Training (RYA training centre)
Sidmouth Sailing Club
Edge Watersports
Stuart Line Cruises

 

Golf

Sidmouth Golf Club is situated in the natural beauty of the Sid Valley, and with wonderful views of Lyme Bay from the clubhouse and several fairways. The club offers the perfect challenge for the golfing novice as well as providing a test for the most accomplished golfer. It is open to visitors at certain times. View the club diary for availability and green fees.

Other nearby golf courses include:

Thorn Park Golf Centre, Salcombe Regis
East Devon Golf Club, Budleigh Salterton
Woodbury Park Hotel, Woodbury
Honiton Golf Club

 
Sidmouth Golf Club

Eating out

Sidmouth offers a variety of dining opportunities to suit all tastes. If it is some good honest local fare you are after the town centre pubs such as The Anchor and the Black Horse in Old Fore Street offer excellent food including the famous Lyme Bay crab.

At the other end of the scale if you want to push the boat out for a special occasion try the Belmont Hotel.

For a more ecclectic choice try Dukes on the Esplanade. This has a vibrant bistro atmosphere and has a sunny seafront patio which is very popular in summer.

Just round the corner from Torbay View is Pynes restaurant at the Bedford Hotel which offers excellent local seafood.

There are numerous tea shops and coffee houses in the town.

If you are after a more eastern style, the Cinnamon Tree Indian Restaurant in Radway Place provides contemporary Indian Cuisine and The Hong Kong (formerly Jade Wok) in the High Street does eat in and take-away Chinese.

Below are links to a number of 'eateries':

Dukes
Pynes
The Pea Green Boat
Browns
Neils
The Cinnamon Tree
The Hong Kong (formerly Jade Wok)
The Belmont Hotel
The Salty Monk

Eating out


Shopping

Shopping in Sidmouth is a delight! There is an abundance of independently owned shops offering a wide variety of goods from gifts, jewellery, clothes, food and deli to more practical items such as housewares and electical goods. Make sure you visit the market with its fresh fish stall and Fields department store on whose site there has been a retail business for 200 years. The main shopping area is in Fore Street, Old Fore Street, New Street and High Street.

The visit website lists many shops and includes a useful map. The Sidmouth town website also provides information on shopping. Below are links to a selection of outlets including some more unusual ones:

Fields of Sidmouth (department store)
Haymans Butchers
Sidmouth Market
Sidmouth trawlers (locally caught fish)
Ganesha Wholefoods
Roly's Fudge Pantry
Vintage Green (vintage homewares and collectables)
Sidmouth Antique Centre
Delderfields (gifts, clothing furniture, decorative items)
Goviers (china, glass and collectables)
Mia (ladies' fashion)
Rachael's Rose (ladies' fashion)
I Want I Need (shoes, bags, accessories)
Annies Leather Goods and Gifts
Woodforde & Co (perfumery)
National Trust Shop
Sidmouth Jewellers
Fitzalan Gems (semi precious stones)
South West Art (artists materials and gallery)
Paragon Books
Sidmouth Surf Shop (active lifestyle products)
Sidmouth Outdoor Co (outdoor equipment)
Gliddons Cook's Corner (cookshop)
Housewares
Sidsoft (computer consumables)

 
Sidmout: Vintage Green
Sidmouth: Fields department store
 


Theatre and Cinema

The Manor Pavilion Theatre is owned and managed by East Devon District Council. The building was originally built as a dance hall before being converted into a theatre with raised seating in the early 70’s.
The theatre seats 277 and is now open all year round. During the Summer, the venue is the home to the Charles Vance repertory company, presenting 14 different plays in 3 months.

Other times of the year, local amateur and professional companies present weekly and one night productions covering all aspects of entertainment. The venue has great local support and also attracts visitors from all areas of Devon, Somerset and much further afield.

The Theatre has its own bar for drinks before and during the performances.

The Radway Cinema is in Radway Place. Visit their website for full information about their programme.

 
Sidmouth: Manor Pavilion Theatre
 
 
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