Winter Beach Walks in East Devon – family and dog friendly

Taking a winter walk is a great way to blow away the cobwebs and heading for the beach is one way to drag even the most reluctant walker away from the comfort of the sofa or some new gadget received for Christmas. East Devon has many great options for walks, Boxing Day and News Year Day are especially popular along the coast.

We are always grateful for a hot drink stop and appreciate those hard working staff who are there to serve much us a needed coffee or hot chocolate from the local cafes when we are lucky enough not to be working. If your café is open please feel free to make a comment below. In the winter most of our local beaches (and many cafes) are dog friendly as well.

So here is my round up of beach walks in East Devon from Axmouth to Sidmouth, including some practical tips for parking, cafes and toilet availability – with children it’s an important planning factor (who am I kidding, I need them as well)!

Axmouth

The most Easterly beach in East Devon with easy public access, Axmouth is a place for avoiding the crowds. This starts with a walk along the river mouth and harbour and then a wonderful stretch of pebbles that disappear off into the distance towards Lyme Regis.  Look up at the beautiful cliffs layered with waves of green and red sandstone stripes. To the West you see the sweep of Seaton Bay maybe you’ll spot a boat or kayakers coming out of the River Axe harbour mouth.

The council have also built a fantastic elevated boat prow seating area for gazing out to sea as well as some nice information boards about the Jurassic Coast and the Undercliff walk to Lyme Regis (recently reopened but not for the faint hearted!). My walk was not very bright so sorry about the dull pictures.

Axmouth Parking;

The harbour itself just has a couple of public parking spaces opposite the cafe (1/2 hour limit) so your best bet is to park near the entrance to the golf club on the Axmouth to Seaton Road. There is a good sized pull in as well as some parking opposite (on same side of the road as the river).

Beach walks East Devon winter family dog friendly Axmouth

Food and Drink;

Jean’s Tea Caddy café with outside covered seating is next to the fishing tackle shop. It opens early (7am) and usually closes by mid afternoon. Good for a cuppa and a bacon butty after your walk. I forgot to ask but I think there is a loo in the fishing tackle shop.

Beach walks East Devon winter family dog friendly Axmouth harbour

Dog Friendly;

The beach at Axmouth is dog friendly all year round but you are advised to keep your dog on a lead until you have gone past the houses as this is a working fishing harbour and errant dog poos are not appreciated by the fishermen or café. Also if you have a dog that likes to chase birds then keeping them on a lead is advised, our dog was very close to jumping into the river over the harbour wall in pursuit of the seagulls!

Family winter beach walks in East Devon Seaton Bay

Seaton

Seaton is a large pebble beach stretching from Axmouth to Seaton Hole. The advantage at Seaton is the lovely long promenade, perfect for pushchairs and scooters if you don’t like walking on the pebbles.

The beach is completely dog friendly from October 1st to 30th April.

There’s a Saturday morning 3.1 mile Park Run (along the esplanade) for anyone wanting a really energetic start to their weekend, open to any age (under 11s with an adult), any ability, run, walk or jog, but no dogs. It starts at 9am so you might want to avoid this time if you are just wanting a beach walk.

Parking;

You can take advantage of 2 hours free parking in Tesco or 1 hour at the Co-op. Alternatively choose one of the car parks or parking along the sea front. There are a few free one hour spaces on Harbour Road if you are lucky.

Cafes;

Lots of choice in Seaton for coffee stops.  The Hideaway Café at the end of the Esplanade is nice (lovely home made cakes that I can recommend!) and dog friendly (formerly Chine Café) but there are also others to choose from in the town centre itself. Pebbles Coffee Shop on the seafront roundabout is very dog friendly (lots of dogs when we went!).  There are other cafes are on  Harbour Road (parallel to the beach), Serendipity up in the town and a nice one at Seaton Jurassic – let me know your recommendations.

Toilets;

As usual Tesco obliges here. There are decent (refurbished) public loos on the roundabout near Tesco and the Seaton Jurassic as well as some less desirable ones on the Esplanade.

Beer

Beer beach is in a small cove sheltered by tall cliffs. Colourful beach huts,  fishing boats and crab pots add to the charm of the beach. Access to the beach is by a step road (not for cars except access) and the beach is pebbly although there are some boardwalks.  A fresh fish shop is a great place to buy the catch of the day to take home.

There is a little play park and some public gardens on the cliff with stunning views of the beach. No restrictions on the beach for dogs from 1st Oct – 30th April.

Family winter beach walks in East Devon Beer beach huts
Family winter beach walks in East Devon Beer

Cafes;

Beer is quite a seasonal village so some café opening times may vary.  My personal recommendation is Osborne’s on the main street. There are a number of good  pubs as well so plenty of choice.

Toilets;

Public loos just above the little playground.

Parking;

Beer is not blessed with free parking – your best bet is to head down the high street and follow signs for the public car-parks and walk down to the beach.

If you are feeling energetic then there is a lovely South West Coast foot path section from Seaton Hole to Beer and back again up over the cliff through the gardens, about a mile each way.

Branscombe

Now I have to admit that I don’t often go to Branscombe. This lovely village is tucked away down a step and winding road. It’s very picturesque,  with two pubs and a National Trust property (a restored mill, forge and the Old Bakery Tearoom – did someone mention scones!).  Please check the NT website for opening times.

It is worth the effort especially for walkers as there are number of footpaths in the area. Access to the beach with a car is 1/2 mile from the village itself and parking is in a private pay and display car park,  with toilets,  next to the Sea Shanty café (open weekends and Bank Holidays 10am – 4pm in the winter).

As an alternative the South West coast path walk to Branscombe from Beer Head is lovely with stunning views (there’s a large car-park at Beer Head).

Family winter beach walks in East Devon Branscombe

Thank you to photographer Neil Bigwood for this ariel picture of Branscombe Beach and the header picture of Beer Beach

SIDMOUTH

Sidmouth is an attractive town with a variety of independent shops, cafes and hotels. The main town has an Esplanade alongside a pebble beach.  There is plenty of parking in the town.

However for walking the best beach is known locally as Jacob’s Ladder which is to the West of the main town.  A lovely beach with a mix of sand and shingle as well as rock pools at low tide.

Dogs are allowed on all parts of the beach from 1st October to the end of April and parts of the beach over the summer months.

There are pretty gardens overlooking the beach called Connaught Gardens with a nice café. From here access to the beach is down the wooden steps (Jacobs Ladder). Alternatively you can access the beach from the road via an accessible path.

Toilets;

Public loos in Connaught Gardens

Parking;

There is a Council pay and display car park at Manor Road, postcode EX10 8RR. You can access the beach from here.

Family winter beach walks in East Devon Sidmouth

Thank you to John Davis who is on Instagram as SurvivingSixty for this lovely picture of Sidmouth Beach

I hope you find my guide to walking on the beaches in East Devon useful. Please add any comments you may have to the link below and take a look at my other posts. Here’s my previous guide to Beach Walks in West Dorset.

Happy walking everyone – Clare