East Devon AONB
This is an AONB conserving some of the most unspoilt holiday coast in Britain, yet it also encompasses a surprisingly untouched rural hinterland. It has been a nationally protected landscape since 1963.
The coastal landscapes, stretching from Lyme Regis to Exmouth, show the lush, highly coloured scenery of classic 'postcard Devon'. Devon red sandstone meets the sea in a coastline of sheer high cliffs, steep wooded combes and coves, its line startlingly broken by the white chalk of Beer Head. The coastline here is internationally important for its geology our 35 mile stretch forms part of the 95 mile long Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site – England’s first natural World Heritage Site.
Inland, the landscape rises to high, flat and surprisingly remote plateaux, often topped by heathland commons, particularly in the west. In the north it breaks into the hilly country fringing Honiton. The plateau is incised by the north-south flowing rivers Axe, Sid and Otter which wind to the sea through quiet, hedge-bordered meadows.
The AONB's estuaries, heaths and cliff top grasslands are important natural habitats and the 'Undercliffs', the spectacular 8 km landslip near Axmouth, are a National Nature Reserve of great geological and wildlife interest. The AONB's headlands and hilltops show many traces of prehistoric settlement.
The area's population (approx. 15,000) is spread between small towns and villages, including Budleigh Salterton, once the home of Sir Walter Raleigh. The major occupations are farming and tourism, although fishing is still a way of life in villages such as Beer. Agriculture is predominantly dairying, but includes sheep, cereals, pigs and poultry. The AONB boundary stops short of, or skirts, the resorts of Lyme Regis, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton but these are the main employment, visitor and residential centres. It also skirts the market towns of Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Axminster.
For generations this coast has been a traditional family holiday destination, and it continues to receive seasonal visitor pressure. The AONB is also increasingly important for informal outdoor recreation, particularly walking, and the South West Coast Path, a National Trail, follows the line of the cliff tops, whilst the East Devon Way is a regionally important route through the heart of the East Devon AONB.
East Devon AONB contact details
Mr Chris Woodruff
East Devon AONB Partnership
East Devon Business Centre
Tel: (01404) 46663
Fax: (01404) 46663