Thursday, April 15, 2010
Whatever your age there is sure to be something to entertain and relax you – rain or shine – in East Devon’s largest town. Exmouth is renowned for its two miles of golden sand, offering spectacular views across the Exe estuary, and is the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage Site.
Situated at the mouth of the River Exe, the town is surrounded by lovely countryside, and has been a popular holiday resort since the 18th century, when the elegant buildings on the Beacon were built and royalty and other notable residents such as Lady Nelson and Lady Byron came to the town.
Exmouth offers so much to enjoy, and has a wide range of facilities. There are beautiful parks and gardens, a huge range of shops, and superb entertainment for all ages. You can stroll along the seafront, relax in the gardens, take a boat trip, entertain your children with the many facilities available, put your feet up and enjoy an ice-cream, or browse around the shops the choice is yours.
Exmouth regularly excels in the annual Britain in Bloom awards. The Strand Gardens are the ideal place to watch the world go by, with lovely flower beds surrounding the striking war memorial. A short stroll takes you to the picturesque fountain at the top of High Street and the nearby Manor Gardens, featuring shady trees and beautiful flower beds.
Manor Gardens is where you will find Exmouths Tourist Information Centre (TIC). It has a whole range of information and leaflets on everything from where to stay and where to eat, to places of local interest, travel information, and details of shows and leisure and sports facilities.
There is no doubt that one of the main attractions of Exmouth is its two miles of golden sands. A busy beach, it is seldom overcrowded, and the Esplanade is a pleasure to stroll along, offering panoramic views of the Exe estuary.
This is the perfect spot for everyone from sun-worshippers, to sandcastle builders, to rock pool investigators whatever their age. It is a lovely place to swim too, but do heed the warning flags strong estuary currents can make bathing difficult in certain areas, and never leave your children unattended.
Backing the beach is Exmouths long, level Esplanade, stretching from the Exmouth Marina to Orcombe Point. There is much to enjoy, with many fun-filled activities including a boating lake, miniature railway, crazy golf, amusement arcade, and places to have a snack or buy a holiday souvenir, plus more lovely gardens to relax in. You can get everything from an ice-cream to a snack or full meal, and there are pubs at the town end which welcome all the family.
The Elizabeth Hall hosts regular events, from car boot sales to fetes and fairs, or you may wish to visit the Royal National Lifeboat Institute centre, where you can learn about the history and work of this vital organisation, which provides a life-saving service around the whole coast. You can support the work the lifeboats do by buying some very special souvenirs from their gift shop.
At the eastern end of the seafront the steady passage of boats will keep the onlooker entertained. Formerly a busy working dock, the area now houses Exmouth Marina and is an ideal subject for the keen photographer. The long-established Exe Sailing Club is based at this end of the seafront, and has a programme of regular meetings on the estuary a superb sight on a windy day when you can watch the skills of the local yachtsmen. The club stages regular national and international events and has produced many noted sailors, including Joe Glanville, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Bustling by day, the Esplanade is also the perfect place for a relaxing stroll in the evening, when the now quiet beach and estuary take on an atmosphere of peace and stillness. You can enjoy some wonderful sunsets, and if you have the energy some beautiful sunrises too. There are plenty of welcoming pubs to choose from if you want some evening entertainment, and the Exmouth Pavilion has a whole range of shows and events to enjoy, both day and night.
Whether you prefer casual or formal, Exmouth features everything from tea-rooms and coffee shops to a huge range of pubs, restaurants and hotels, offering everything from a warming cuppa or a snack to a full meal, and if you enjoy relaxing at home there are many excellent takeaways too. The town centre comes alive at night with a plethora of pubs to suit all tastes and there are two lively nightclubs if you want to dance the night away.
Exmouth has a super choice of entertainment for all ages, including a modern cinema, situated in the centre of town, with several screens featuring the very latest films. There are also regular performances by the talented local amateur dramatic group and the operatic society. The best way to find out whats on is to buy Exmouths biggest selling newspaper, the Exmouth Journal, which is on sale every Thursday.
All round entertainment can be enjoyed at Exmouth Pavilion, Exmouths largest seafront venue. It plays host to everything from nationally renowned acts and ever-popular tribute bands, to sequence dancing, comedians and discos, craft and antique fairs, brass bands, and much more. The Pavilion also has a lovely non-smoking lounge bar and restaurant with patio, so you can pop in at any time and relax, even for breakfast or morning coffee after a stroll along the beach.
Exmouth has a wide variety of community groups which provide a packed calendar of activities. Garden parties, flower shows, fetes, art and photography exhibitions, and lots of sporting events are among those on offer details are available at the TIC, and in the Exmouth Journal.
Among the highlights of the year is the Exmouth Summer Festival May 26 to 30 which provides excellent entertainment at venues throughout the town including live music al fresco in the Manor Gardens. There is a whole range of events to enjoy and programmes will be available from the TIC and throughout the town.
Exmouth Summer Fun Time is another super week of events for all the family. This runs from July 28 to August 8 with a host of events to enjoy at the Elizabeth Hall on the seafront.
Another popular event is the Exmouth Art Group Exhibition at the Elizabeth Hall in September.
Exmouth Pavilion is hosting Star Warz, a six-week long talent competition. It is based on the popular Pop Idol format and anyone is welcome to enter. The first heat is held on July 18, with three more heats on the following three Mondays. There will then be two semi-finals before a gala final on Monday, August 29.
For something different and the chance to ecperience a superb community atmosphere visit the nearby village of Lympstone on August 6 when the annual Furry Dance takes place a colourful fancy dress parade dances its way through the streets accompanied by traditional music.
And if you are fortunate enough to be in Exmouth on October 8, dont miss the spectacular Winter Carnival procession, featuring floodlit floats.
Exmouths superb range of shops are all within a reasonable walk from the seafront. The main area is the pedestrianised Magnolia Shopping Centre. It was named after Exmouth resident Sir John Coleton, who brought the first magnolia tree to the country. Many fine examples of the beautiful Magnolia grandiflora can be seen throughout the town.
Exmouth has many other shopping streets, plus lots of smaller side streets that are lovely to browse around and offer something special. If a bustling, friendly atmosphere is what you are after, visit the Exmouth Indoor Market, next to the Strand Gardens. With 50 stalls and a caf there is something for everyone.
Exmouth is the ideal place to enjoy water sports. Wind-surfing, water-skiing, power boat racing, sailing, fishing, diving and rowing, with tuition available in most sports, are all available in the town.
If small boat sailing appeals to you, Spinnakers Sailing School, recognised by the Royal Yachting Association, offers qualified tuition for novices and the more experienced, and the Exe Sailing Club can advise you on their many eventsr.
If you prefer to go under the water, Jurassic Coast Diving offer diving trips, plus tuition and a retail department.
If fishing is your passion, there are lots of opportunities for anglers of all abilities, from shore and river fishing to a whole range of boat trips.
If you fancy just relaxing on the water many boat trips and cruises are available, from a trip around Lyme Bay, or a scenic crossing of the River Exe aboard the ferry to Starcross, to a trip to the Turf Locks Hotel at the base of the Exeter canal, with a beer garden offering stunning views back towards Exmouth.
There are many land-based sporting activities in Exmouth too. Exmouth Sports Centre has an heated indoor pool, learner pool, squash courts, badminton, health and fitness studio, childrens activities and much more. Exmouth also has a superb tennis centre, with indoor and outdoor courts, bar and social area.
In the grounds of Phear Park there is pitch and putt golf and bowls, and a childrens play area.
Behind the Esplanade on the seafront is a lovely green oasis which includes a cricket ground and bowling club always wonderful relaxation on those summer days when you just want to sit and watch.
The TIC has a huge range of leaflets to enable you to get the best out of your holiday.
You will be fascinated by the Exmouth Blue Plaque Heritage Trail leaflet, which guides you around the most historic sites in the town. The TIC also has details of walks around Exmouth, giving you the chance to enjoy the historic town at your leisure and soak in the history and dont miss a visit to Exmouth Museum in Sheppards Row, just off Exeter Road.
There are many places of interest to visit nearby, including the fascinating World of Country Life at Sandy Bay in Littleham, and the National Trust-owned A la Ronde, a unique 16-sided house built in 1798.
If you fancy a complete change, visit the Nigel Mansell World of Racing at Woodbury Park Golf & Country Club. Ask at the TIC for details of all attractions in the area.
East Devon is one of the most beautiful areas of the country and it is perhaps not surprising that walking, cycling and horse riding are extremely popular. The TIC can help you with information about a whole range of activities.
The estuary itself offers loads of opportunities, from a stroll to the nearby village of Lympstone or, for the more energetic, exploring the East Devon Way.
Inland is Woodbury Common, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The famous hill fort Woodbury Castle, a listed monument, is the ideal place to explore or have a picnic and enjoy the views.
To benefit from local knowledge you can join one of the guided walks led by the East Devon Naturalist Group. They are held every Friday, and take in Woodbury Common and sites throughout the whole of Devon. For information telephone Trevor Bartlett on (01395) 265 288.
If you just want to relax and drink in the scenery, join an Avocet Cruises on the river and observe the thousands of wading birds and wildfowl.