The picturesque seaside town of Sidmouth nestles beneath majestic Triassic red cliffs and the green hills of the glorious Sid valley. As with many settlements along this part of the coast it originally developed as a fishing village, but a lack of shelter in the bay has prevented its growth as a port.

The town saw considerable development as the popularity of seaside resorts grew during the 18th and 19th centuries. There are many fine villas and mansions dating from this period which help give the town a charming, timeless feel – many of these have now been converted into hotels. The wide promenade has also been a prominent seafront feature since the Regency period.

The clean waters of the beach at Sidmouth are a popular location for swimming and a variety of watersports including sailing and windsurfing. Jacob’s Ladder beach is particularly popular with families. Jacob’s Ladder itself is a wooden staircase leading from the beach up to Connaught Gardens in the cliffs above. From here you can enjoy wonderful views of the surrounding coastline.

How to Get There

Bus services to Sidmouth run regularly from Exeter and Honiton. The nearest railway station is at Honiton, with services running west to Exeter and east to Salisbury and London.

By road, the A375 connects Sidmouth with the A3052 at Sidford.

For further information, visit our Travel page.

sidmouth peak hill
Sidmouth and Peak Hill from the sea. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

Where to Stay

We recommend staying at Higher Wiscombe Holiday Cottages in nearby Southleigh.

For a comprehensive list of local options, visit our Accommodation page.

Sidmouth
Jacob's Ladder and the historic building that now houses the Clock Tower Cafe, Sidmouth. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

Things to Do

Sidmouth seafront
Rock armour around Sidmouth seafront. © Steve Belasco - jurassicphotographic.com

The Arches Interpretation Centre

The Arches Interpretation Centre on the Esplanade provides an excellent introduction to the Jurassic Coast. The open-air centre is free to enter and features a map of the area, walking routes, short films and a range of Jurassic Coast-themed interactive exhibits.

Sidmouth - Arches Interpretation Centre
Arches Interpretation Centre, Sidmouth.

Sidmouth Museum

Sidmouth Museum contains rare fossils of reptiles from the Triassic period, 235 million years ago (See Need to Know below) and is well worth a visit.

Here you can see rare reptile fossils and amphibian bones which have been found on the beaches, including the remains of the Rhynchosaur, a curious herbivore reptile.

Sidmouth Museum

Walking

The South West Coast Path from Sidmouth offers a stunning walk west to Peak Hill, Ladram Bay and onwards to Otterton Point and Budleigh Salterton. To the east is Salcombe Hill, Branscombe and Beer, where cretaceous chalk cliffs emerge from amongst the towering natural structures of the Triassic period.

Peak Hill and distant Sidmouth. © Philip Goddard - via Flickr.com

Boat Trips

One of the best ways to observe Sidmouth and its spectacular cliffs is from the sea.

Exmouth-based Stuart Line Cruises offer trips past Sidmouth as part of their Jurassic Coast Cruise.

stuart line cruises red cliffs
Cruising the Triassic. © Stuart Line Cruises

Car Parking & Facilities

Visit Sidmouth Town Council’s website for up-to-date parking information. Sidmouth’s seafront walkway makes it an easily accessible Jurassic Coast destination.

Sidmouth coast
Sidmouth coast. © Alison Day - via Flickr.com

The Donkey Sanctuary

Only a short drive or bus journey from Sidmouth is The Donkey Sanctuary, where visitors can come and say hello to some of the hundreds of donkeys waiting to meet them – completely free of charge.

There are also guided walks, donkey talks and demonstrations, scenic trails, meet the groom sessions, the Nature Centre and a Maze to lose yourself in, as well as regular events held throughout the year and activities during school holidays.

Making friends. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Need to Know: Triassic Fossils

The coastline around Sidmouth is one of the most important sites in the world for fossils from the Triassic period.

 

Over the years incredibly rare and fragile fossils have been carefully collected, cleaned and studied, making it possible to reconstruct the environment of the Jurassic Coast as it would have been some 235 million years ago (As interpreted here by artist Neil Rogers).

Sidmouth Triassic landscape, Otter Sandstone
Sidmouth Triassic landscape. Illustration © Neil Rogers