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.
Where to Stay
Things to Do
Interpretation Centre & Museum
The Arches Interpretation Centre on the town’s seafront provides an excellent introduction to the Jurassic Coast. The 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 Museum contains rare fossils of reptiles from the Triassic period, 235 million years ago, and is well worth a visit.
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.
The town can be seen from the sea by booking a Jurassic Coast Cruise with Exmouth-based Stuart Line Cruises.
Car Parking & Facilities
Visit Sidmouth Town Council’s website for up-to-date parking information. The seafront walkway makes it an ideal all-access Jurassic Coast destination.
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.
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.
Armour plates form giant amphibians, jaw bones and teeth from carnivorous reptiles that pre-date the dinosaurs, evidence of plants and skeletal fragments from many other strange animals reveal the inhabitants of the sandy plains of the Triassic deserts.