Jeremy Vine's SidmouthJeremy Vine explains why Sidmouth's charming seafront will keep him coming back.
Interview by York Membery 15 May 2012
"There would never be a riot in Sidmouth, that's for sure" Photo: REX FEATURES
I go there most summers with my in-laws. It’s a bit like the land that time forgot, in a lovely way. It’s gentle, it’s slow, it has immense charm – and is just the complete opposite of London. There would never be a riot in Sidmouth, that’s for sure.
Anything special I should pack?
Take a printout of the tide times because you have a window of about 25 minutes when there’s sand. I’d also take a windbreak because it can be quite breezy and you don’t want to get blown away.
What's the first thing you do?
Walking down the front when it’s blowing a virtual hurricane is to be recommended. It reminds you that you’re alive, and is sure to blow away the cobwebs.
Where is the best place to stay?
I stay with my relatives but my advice is to get a room with a sea view somewhere on the seafront. There’s no point checking into somewhere without a sea view if you’re holidaying at the seaside.
Where would you meet friends for a drink?
I like going to Mocha (The Esplanade; 01395 512882) for a cup of tea or coffee and cakes. It’s right by the sea – I like to spend as much time as possible.
Which is the best place for lunch?
You have to have fish and chips at The White Horse Café (Old Fore Street; 514271). You put in your order, they shout your number when it’s ready, and the food’s delicious. I absolutely love it.
And for dinner?
You can’t beat Moores’ (568100; mooresrestaurant.co.uk) in nearby Newton Poppleford. It’s almost like eating in someone’s front room. They’re very friendly and they serve good British cuisine.
Where would you send a first-time visitor?
Sidmouth is a gateway town to the Jurassic Coast, so you have to get up on the cliffs above the town and enjoy the marvellous views. It also has a terrific cinema – the perfect place to go on a rainy day.
What should I avoid?
Well, arguably, swimming in the perishingly cold sea. The last time I did so I felt real physical pain. Perhaps it was the wrong time of the year. I’m not sure what the right time is…
What should I bring home?
Some Sidmouth rock. And a kite. It’s a great place for kite flying – so I had to invest in one when I was down last summer.
More on visiting Sidmouth
By Simon Horsford
Where to stay
Sidmouth Harbour Hotel (01395 513252; sidmouth-harbour-hotel.co.uk; doubles from £85), formerly The Westcliff, is perfectly located and offers fabulous views of the red cliffs of Sidmouth and Lyme Bay. It also overlooks lovely Connaught Gardens, which stages Sunday evening concerts by the town band in the summer. Harding’s Restaurant in the hotel is also worth a visit.
Where to drink
Try the Fountain Head at Branscombe (01297 680359; fountainheadinn.com), about five miles outside Sidmouth, a traditional pub that brews its own beer (there’s a beer festival next month , and live music and a spit roast in late July and August). Then there’s the Blue Ball (01392 427711; blueballinn.net) at Sidford, a couple of miles away, which has been run by the same family since 1912 and which also has rooms.
What to hear
The annual Sidmouth folk festival takes place this year from August 3-10. A strong line-up includes June Tabor and the Oysterband, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy with the Gift Band, Seth Lakeman and Martin Simpson. There’s a dedicated campsite and tickets, which begin at £34 for a day ticket, are available from the festival website (sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk).
Where to walk
Take in part of the South West Coast Path with a 10-mile hike from Sidmouth to Seaton. The walk goes through East Devon’s “Area of Outstanding Beauty”; look out for the wild flowers on the top of the red cliffs at Branscombe and the change in geology around Beer. For the energetic and fit, why not go on another seven miles to Lyme Regis?
Jeremy Vine's Sidmouth - Telegraph