Otterton is one of many charming villages that make Devon so popular with visitors! The sloping main street has a stream running down one side, overlooked by irregular cob houses and thatched cottages that have everyone reaching for their camera! Despite its charm it is very much a local community with pubs and businesses that rely more on locals than visitors to keep them busy ‐ the sort of place I love to visit.
Easy to reach by car
The village is easy to reach by car from the A3052 which links Clyst St Mary with Lyme Regis. Turn off at Newton Poppleford and go through Colaton Raleigh before turning off for Otterton. However, I prefer to continue on a couple of miles to the gracious coastal town of Budleigh Salterton where there is a huge car park beside the stony beach.
Join the footpath inland that runs beside the River Otter. There are various overlooks that I always stop at and look at the gulls and birds on the muddy estuary at low tide. After about 1Â½ miles you climb a stile and emerge right on the old bridge in Otterton, built in 1827.
Turn right and head towards the village green and the church tower which can be seen rising above the roofline of the village. Look out for the “Bicton Scriptural Direction Post”, a pillar in the middle of the crossroads. It is on top of an old cross with religious inscriptions. It dates back to 1580 when the Sheriff of Devon had to order the burning of a local witch and posted the cross as a warning to others!
Award-winning tea rooms
First stop for me is usually the Old Mill which is now a pleasant award-winning tea room, bakery, garden centre, art gallery and craft shop. Now fully restored as a working mill, there has been a watermill here since the Romans occupied the area in 100AD. Rest your feet at one of the tables set out in the cobbled courtyard (if you can bag one) or sit inside the historic mill building.
Alternatively, I sometimes walk further into the village and enjoy lunch or a pint at the Kings Arms which has an excellent menu and daily specials board with locally sourced beef, fish and seafood.
A Victorian church with a long history
St Michael's Church is mostly Victorian but apparently stands on the site of an earlier building that, according to the Domesday Book of 1086, belonged to the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel. Most of the monastery was destroyed after the Dissolution, but the church tower is believed to be part of the earlier monastic church. It's worth a photograph.
Once I've enjoyed my visit, I return on the east side of the river, walking along the country lanes through some of the surrounding rural landscape before crossing the river on the footbridge near Kersbrook. This walk takes me through the country park, past the local cricket club and back into Budleigh Salterton.
Otterton is one of South Devon's prettiest villages. Have you visited it? Is it one of your favourite villages in the county? Do you know of any other pretty villages in the area that you would recommend to visitors?