With wonderful clifftop views and the open parkland of the Byes, one of the great joys of Sidmouth is that beauty is never more than a short stroll away. Here are a couple of excellent short walks that provide idyllic scenery mere footsteps from Sidmouth seafront and the Bedford Hotel. Don’t forget your camera!
1. The Beautiful Byes: Although many guests don’t wander far from the beach, the town has wonderful rolling parkland in the form of the Sidmouth Byes. With fabulous flowers, the smell of wild garlic and the trickling River Sid, it is a lovely place to unwind and stretch the legs.
Directions: From the seafront, make your way down Sidmouth High Street and continue walking until you see the Radway Inn (EX10 8PY). Turn right up Salcombe Road and continue until you come to a bridge over the stream. You’ll see the pretty but petite Sidmouth Toll House here, which dates back 1817 and the era of horse drawn coaches.
The weir, just off Salcombe Road
Just after the Toll House, turn left into the Byes, where you’ll also find a handy map and some local heritage signs. Follow the path that runs past the weir pool and you have a nice steady walk that will take you all the way up through the Byes. The Sid is Devon’s shortest river, but very pretty. Yellow wagtails are often seen here, perching on rocks and nimbly catching insects that hatch from the stream.
Sidmouth Byes walks can be as brief or adventurous as you like; either follow the path or make a quick detour into open parkland to find more flowers and surprisingly rich animal and plant life. It is especially pretty in the spring, when the daffodils are out in force.
Once you reach the edge of Sid Park Road you can venture further to find Margaret’s Meadow (a nice spot for a picnic), or cross the river and return to the town via the other bank of the river. If you’re here very early or late you might also spot another occasional visitor in the form of a large otter, who sometimes surprises local dog walkers.
2. Soaring views at Peak Hill
Another must-see for all those planning short breaks in Sidmouth are the commanding views from Peak Hill, the destination for our second short walk. The journey might be modest in terms of distance, but it is quite a steep ascent. However, you can always stop and admire the scenery or enjoy a Devon cream tea on the way up.
Starting on the Esplanade, head west towards the rocky end of the seafront, before following the little path under the cliffs. You will soon reach Jacob's Ladder Beach. You could ascend the flights of steps here to take you up to the delightful Connaught Gardens, where you will also find the Clock Tower Restaurant. We would suggest you save the tea and cake as a reward for the walk back however, so instead, take the zig-zagging path west, which takes you onto the grassy area alongside Peak Hill Road. In the spring, there are veritable floods of daffodils up here and ample benches for a picnic or a quiet loaf with a book.
Going up in the world: fine views on the way from Jacob's Ladder to Peak Hill
Keep heading west on the path to climb Peak Hill. Once the grassy area finishes, you will need to walk on the edge of the actual road here- so do keep to the side. There are some lovely old English thatched cottages perched along here, including one quite precariously placed when one considers the erosion of the cliffs in recent years.
Look for a gap on the left and a leafy path with a series of wooden steps. There are plenty of these, so take your time and keep steady. Once you havce reached the top, you will join the South West Coast Path and a lovely nature trail type route. Keep your eyes peeled for several cute clearings and vantage points where you can enjoy stunning views across Sidmouth Seafront and the distant cliffs either side.
If you’re feeling fit, you could make it a day trip and follow the path all the way to Ladram Bay, a route that you might find festooned with bluebells, snowdrops or many other wildflowers depending on the season. However, for a more leisurely walk, return the way you have come until you reach the steps again. Instead of descending and taking the same path under the cliffs, keep along Peak Hill Road briefly this time before turning right into Connaught Gardens (below).There are many interesting plant species and beautiful flower gardens here to enjoy as you make your way back to the town.There is no rush whatsoever and each season has its own beauty.
The Perfect Hotel to Enjoy the Jurassic Coast
Offering stylish, comfortable sea view accommodation in East Devon, the Bedford Hotel offers wonderful hospitality and an ideal location to explore both Sidmouth and the surrounding coast and countryside. See the main website for full details, current rates and special offers on weekend breaks in Devon.