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The East Devon AONB, full of contrast and colour, diverse and rich in wildlife and a working landscape home to approximately 30,640 residents.
Designated in 1963, covering 268 sq kms and a third of East Devon District, the AONB skirts the major settlements in the area with the exception of Budleigh Salterton.
The World Heritage Site ‘Jurassic’ coastline and South West Coast Path play an important role in the popularity of the AONB. With its dramatic cliffs, a unique insight into 185 million years of earth history and attractive coastal villages that still retain a vernacular character and rural charm, the coast brings in significant economic benefit to the area.
Further inland, the AONB is less well known and is best explored via the 40mile East Devon Way. Large expanses of heathland provide a contrast to well-wooded combes and fertile river valleys. On high ground woodland dominates but the AONB is predominantly pastoral, interspersed with copses and ancient wooded goyles shading valley sides incised by the rivers Axe, Otter and Sid and contrasting more recent hilltop plantations. Steep sided Devon hedge-banks and narrow country lanes disguise the richness of the landscape to all but the most observant traveller.
The AONB is punctuated by hamlets and villages built of local stone, thatch and cob, reflecting the geology and traditional land use of the area. Chert and pebblebed stone (“popple”) can be found in many churches and local buildings and the much sought after Beer limestone helped build Exeter Cathedral and buildings across America. Evidence of man’s former activity is evident today in the form of nationally significant Bronze Age hill-barrow cemetery at Farway, several Iron Age hill-forts and numerous tumuli and former quarries.