It’s easy to miss this little town at Devon’s eastern edge, but if you pause awhile, you will discover a real gem. Axminster has a rich heritage that goes well beyond its worldwide fame for fine carpets. Scratch the surface of today’s town and you will find a strong underlying sense of friendship and community spirit that is evident if you visit its fine collection of independent shops, cafes, and truly local pubs. The town has not one but three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on its doorstep, making it an ideal base from which to explore idyllic countryside, and outstanding walks that will take you deep inland or over rolling hills to the beautiful Jurassic coastline.

Much to see

Axminster is a town with a big green heart. In the summertime, you will find welcoming picnic tables on the lawns behind the beautiful Minster Church. The town centre is also lined with colourful street banners that tell stories from its proud past, and there’s a fascinating working model of the old Axminster to Lyme Regis railway filling a town centre shop window. There are many listed buildings, and it’s well worth going off the beaten track to discover the River Axe.

Immerse yourself in the outdoors

There is no shortage of great walks around Axminster. Perhaps the most ambitious is the 630-mile South West Coast Path. One of the more challenging local routes takes you from Seaton to Lyme Regis via the seven-mile Undercliffs National Nature Reserve. Or how about the 40-mile East Devon Way, which runs to the south of Axminster on its glorious inland route from Lyme Regis to Exmouth? More locally, you can enjoy a five-mile circular route from the town, along the River Axe and up to the Trinity Hill Nature Reserve overlooking Axminster.

A rich heritage

In days gone by, they rang the bells of the Minster Church each time a new Axminster carpet was completed. But you might not know that the town was also once famous for tooth, nail and hairbrushes, and today it still has a factory producing fine feathers for film, military and other uses. Once a busy stop on the route from the West Country to London, Axminster typically saw 16 horse-drawn coaches stopping each day. The excellent Axminster Heritage Centre ( is the place to explore all this and much more local history.

Gateway to the coast

From Axminster, you can easily explore in any direction. Within minutes you can be deep in rolling Devon, Dorset or Somerset countryside with exquisite scenery. If you come by car, Axminster is close to both the A303 and A35, but it also has a direct rail link to Waterloo, and there are buses to take you onward.

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