Beer & Branscombe
10:18 15 April 2010
For those of you are wondering, the name Beer is derived from an old English name meaning a small wood. Although beer was never produced in the village, the local vineyards owned by the monks of Sherborne Abbey produced wine.
The quaint main street has a pretty natural stream running alongside, leading past many fascinating shops, pubs and restaurants ideal to browse around at your leisure.
Beer has many claims to fame, including its history of fishing and boating, and both visitors and locals still enjoy watching the local fishermen landing their catches.
If you admire the beautiful cliffs, you will realise why Beer has been famous since Roman times for supplying fine white limestone, which has been used in buildings throughout the country from Exeter Cathedral to Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.
To enjoy the fishing tradition of the village, there are angling trips available throughout the season, or you can enjoy freshly caught fish either for sale or at one of the local restaurants or pubs.
There are lots of shops and galleries, including the Marine House, featuring perfect souvenirs such as the famous Beer pottery.
The Sailing Club is long established, and the highlight of their year is Beer Regatta Week, this year from August 6 to 12, with races, competitions, and lots of fun events including barrel rolling down Fore Street. Throughout the year you can watch the boats in the bay, including those from Beer Luggers Club who still use an old traditional rig.
Another special event is Rattenbury Day on August 27, when there are lots of fun and festivities celebrating the life of Beer native Jack Rattenbury, one of Devons most notorious smugglers.
Also established as an annual event is the Beer Rhythm & Blues festival, which has a superb atmosphere and features performances at venues throughout the area in October.
There is so much to enjoy any time of the year, including taking some exercise on the spectacular coastal path, and there are well signposted footpaths leading inland from the village.
A visit to Beer Quarry Caves is a fascinating experience, with vast underground caverns dating as far back as Roman times, providing stone for many famous buildings.
For family fun and entertainment a visit to Pecorama is a must there are model railways, passenger carrying miniature railway, and spectacular gardens on the hill above the village with spectacular views across the bay. This year sees the 30th anniversary of the Beer Heights light railway. The occasion is to be commemorated on Thursday, July 14, by a visit from Christopher Awdry, son of Thomas the Tank Engine creator Reverend W Awdry. Christopher Awdry will plant a tree and read stories and sign copies of his books.
Special events are held throughout the year, such as the Peco Loco Week from July 11 to 16. For information on all Pecoramas events call (01297) 21542.
Branscombe is not only one of the most picturesque villages in the area, it is reputed to be the longest village in the country. Its name is derived from its position at the foot of two branching valleys or combes, and it is situated amongst lovely fields and woodlands.
There is much to photograph, including a thatched smithy which dates from Norman times, and Great Seaside Farm dating back to the 14th century, situated on the road leading from the village square to the beach.
The 12th century Church of St Winifred is definitely worth visiting, with its large central Norman tower and knave, fragments of a medieval wall painting, and a rare example of a three-decker 18th century pulpit.
From the village you can drive to the beach, which has ample car parking, a thatched licensed restaurant and a super beach where the children can enjoy exploring the rock pools. If you have more energy you can walk along the coastal paths, offering spectacular views.
And if you think Branscombe at first appears a quiet little village, rest assured there is a wonderful community atmosphere, from a friendly welcome in the pubs to locally organised events.
The highlight of the years events is the Branscombe Air Day and Classic Car Rally, a great event for all the family, on July 24.