Budleigh Salterton is famous (for geologists and geomorphologists at least) for its pebbles and for good reason as they have an extraordinary story to tell. The pebbles are made from hard quartzite, sandstone cemented by silica, and are identical to rocks found in what we know as Britany today. Back in the Triassic, Britany was mountainous and rivers drained from it northwards across the Triassic desert. The quartzite rocks were tumbled into pebbles and eventually deposited as the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds. That’s the geology bit over but the story does not end there!
Today the pebbles fall out of the cliffs and form the beach. But Budleigh pebbles are also found along the coast at Chesil beach and beyond, past the Isle of Wight. They tell us that the south-westerly seas coming up the Cannel push pebbles east by a process known as Long Shore Drift. The less strong south easterly seas only manage to carry the pebbles as far as Slapton Lay in South Devon.
NOTE: There is a bylaw restricting the removal of pebbles from Budleigh beach, enforced by a £2,000 fine per pebble!