501: The small, historic port of Beer is built on the hillside behind a natural harbour with a shingle beach. To the east and west are cliff-top walks, with wonderful views out over Branscome Bay. The town includes several pubs and restaurants, including a beach cafe from about Easter through to early autumn. Plenty of small shops. Beer is only some 3 miles from Baldash Cottage by road - and there is an excellent walk along the cliff-top between Branscome Mouth and Beer.

502: The pleasant seaside resort of Sidmouth is about a seven mile drive west of Baldash Cottage. It is a busy, but not noisy - perhaps slightly old-fashioned - town with an extensive shopping centre. You can find a wide choice of refreshments, from coffee shops, through fish-and-chip bars to restaurants and hotels. There is a small cinema, the Radway, in the town. The sea front is traditional, with a long promenade running the full length of the bay, just right for enjoying a stroll with an ice cream in summer, or watching the waves breaking on the beach in winter.

503: The busy seaside town of Seaton, like Sidmouth, has an extensive shopping centre, offering a wide range of eating places and shops. It is, perhaps, less traditional in style, with quite a number of modern buildings. The shingle beach and sea front promenade face Lyme Bay. The promenade is more than a mile in length, stretching from Castle Hill in the west across to the estuary of the River Axe at the eastern end. Seaton is the southern terminus of the Seaton Tramway. Other places to visit are the Seaton Marshes nature reserve, Axmouth Harbour and the villages of Colyford and Colyton (both accessible by tram). By car, Seaton is about four miles from Baldash Cottage. There is a pleasant walk along the cliff-top footpath between Beer and Seaton.

504: Lyme Regis is a popular holiday resort, close to the border between Devon and Dorset and about ten miles east of Baldash Cottage. The town enjoys a large sandy beach and a large harbour with fishing boats (and vessels offering pleasure trips). There is an extensive shopping and commercial centre. The town has a long history and boasts a number of interesting buildings still used as homes, shops and hotels.

511: Exeter is the Devon County Town and is a cathedral city and university town. The main commercial shopping centre houses branches of most national store chains. The New Theatre, home of the Cygnet Theatre Company, is easy walking distance from the city centre. There are national rail stations at Exeter St.Davids and Exeter Central, with trains to Bristol, London, Plymouth and Barnstaple, plus a branch to the resort town of Exmouth. Exeter airport lies about 5 miles east of the city, close to the A30 Honiton Road. The road journey from Baldash Cottage to the centre of Exeter takes about 40 minutes; to Exeter Airport about 25 minutes.

512: Axminster was originally a Saxon town. Located just off the main A35 road between Honiton and Bridport, it is now a busy shopping and commercial centre, probably most associated with the Axminster carpet factory. The factory opened in 1755, originally to meet growing demand from the country's stately homes for really high quality carpets. You can view current products at the showroom in West Street. The oldest building in the town is St.Mary the Virgin parish church. There is also a Town Museum, housed in the old police station and courthouse, displaying artifacts from local history. Just outside Axminster is the 16th century Shute Barton Manor (National Trust), notable for its battlemented turrets and its large fireplace, claimed as the largest in England. Axminster events include the annual Community Festival, the Carnival and the Axe Vale Gardening and Craft festival. Axminster is about eleven miles to the north-east of Baldash Cottage.

513: Honiton is a pleasant, busy market town located close to the border between Devon and Somerset, on main road (A30) and rail (London-Salisbury-Exeter) routes to the west country. Historically, the town was important to the medieval West Country cloth trade and became famous for its lace. There is a museum displaying the main collection of Honiton Lace, several specialist shops for antiques and pottery and a number of antiques auction houses. The High Street is lined with Georgian buildings, many former coaching inns. Behind them, are courtyards and alleyways with a variety of small shops. There is a street market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as a monthly farmers' market. Honiton is about nine miles to the north of Baldash Cottage.

521: Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is a landscaped park covering 63 acres. The gardens display over 1,000 trees and 300 plant species including camellias, mimosas and wisteria. There is an 18th-century Italian Garden, a historic Palm House, Victorian fernery, old and modern roses and waterside planting. Bicton Gardens is on the road to East Budleigh, north of Budleigh Salterton, and is about 12 miles from Baldash Cottage.

522: The 16th century Shute Barton Manor (National Trust) is about three miles outside Axminster. The Manor House has a varied history dating from 1380 and is one of the most important surviving non-fortified manor houses of the Middle Ages. The house was completed in the late 16th century and then partly demolished in the late 18th century. The building displays battlemented turrets, late Gothic windows and a Tudor gatehouse. It is particularly noted for its large fireplace, claimed as the largest in England. Admission by guided tour only. The house is tenanted, but there is visitor access to most parts of the interior. Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from late May until the end of October (check with the NT for hours and admission charges). Shute Barton lies about 9 miles from Baldash cottage, being located 3 miles south-west of Axminster, or 2 miles north of Colyton on the Honiton-to-Colyton B3161 road.

999: Full website at http://www.baldash.co.uk


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Paul & Bru Bainbridge e-mail to: Info@baldash.co.uk