East Devon Natural Landscape (AONB)
Sidmouth falls within the East Devon Natural Landscape (formerly known as the AONB – or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and even without the name, the countryside that surrounds the town speaks for itself. Having been granted the status of Natural Landscape (AONB) means that you can be sure that this is a very special site indeed, full of gorgeous views, fascinating local wildlife and stunning backdrops.
Discover a national treasure
The East Devon Natural Landscape (AONB) is part of the same family of protected landscapes that includes the National Parks and the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Jurassic Coast. It is a unique landscape that is full of contrasts. It is rich in wildlife and having been shaped by centuries of farming is one of the most picturesque areas of natural beauty that much of it is protected.
This section of East Devon was designated a Natural Landscape (AONB) in the 1960s and protects over 100 square miles of countryside which includes thirty parishes and the Devon part of the Jurassic Coast, it is one of 46 Natural Landscapes (AONBs) in the country and is one of several that can be found in the county of Devon. The aim of the Natural Landscapes (AONB) project is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape, but that doesn’t mean it is off limits, the area is open to the public and there are a number of walks, cycle tracks and picnic spots throughout.
East Devon is lucky enough to have two designated Natural Landscape (AONBs), the East Devon Natural Landscape (AONB) and the Blackdown Hills. Together, the two of them cover almost 70% of the district – so a trip to East Devon is guaranteed to leave you awestruck!
The East Devon Way
The East Devon Way is the official name of the walking route that takes you straight through the heart of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a fully inland route with waymarkings making it one of the most popular walks through the region. The route takes you past some of the most beautiful hidden gems in East Devon and allows you to really explore the Sid Valley.
As well as offering linear routes, there are also a number of circular routes around the East Devon Way, including the Sidbury to Buckton Hill circle and the Sidbury, Harcombe and Sweetcombe route. You can find details of these and other walking routes around the Natural Landscape here.
If you fancy exploring by bike, the open heathland and woodland trails are covered by miles of the National Cycle Network which has highlighted a number of routes perfect for the whole family or for those of you who want a challenge. The National Cycle Route 2 aka the South Coast Cycle Route takes you through much of the Natural Landscape (AONB) and allows you to really explore the towns and villages of East Devon, including Axminster, Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton. Of course, you don’t have to stick to those routes if you don’t want to, the East Devon Natural Landscape (AONB) is vast and there are plenty of places for you to explore.
There are a number of businesses and accommodation providers dotted throughout the Natural Landscape (AONB), so you are never too far away from refreshments and places to rest. Take a look at some of the places to stay in and around Sidmouth here.