25/07/2013
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Motorhome in Devon - The Axe Valley

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A motorhome proves to be the perfect base for exploring east Devon's Axe Valley for motorcaravaner Bob Deane in his quest to explore a quieter delight outside peak season.

I pitched up at Abbey Gate Farm, a Camping and Caravanning Club Certificated Site for up to five motorhomes on the outskirts of Axminster. This open-all-year site has five hardstanding pitches with electric hook up, providing far-reaching views over the valley. You can walk or get the bus into Axminster, a small market town with a surprising number of amenities, including a Tesco supermarket.

Almost driven to drink

Now I’m a lifetime teetotaller but in the interests of those many readers who enjoy a glass of wine I paid a visit to the Lyme Bay Winery, which is signposted from Musbury on the A358 roughly midway between Axminster and Seaton. It is passionate about producing delicious wines, liqueurs and ciders that are inspired by traditional recipes but using the most up-to-date production techniques.
The company keeps the craft of West Country cider-making alive using freshly-pressed juice of locally grown, traditional cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill. I must admit it all looked very tempting… I resisted being driven to drink, but I doubt many less confirmed non-imbibers would leave the well-stocked shop empty handed.

Axmouth

Back on the A358 heading south takes you onto the B3172 to Axmouth, a pretty village on the Axe estuary with two pubs and a campsite. The harbour is about a mile further along the B3172, which runs alongside the estuary. There are parking spaces at intervals suitable for smaller ‘vans. Twice I spent an hour parked up in my campervan with the side door open looking out on the many species of bird that can be spotted feeding out in the estuary.

Seaton

On the opposite side, the famous Seaton electric trams trundle alongside the estuary and nature reserve up to Colyton; birdwatcher specials are popular.

Seaton’s promenade stretches from the red sandstone cliffs at the eastern end to the white chalk cliffs of Beer Head at the western end backed by a mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Unusually, the colourful beach huts at the western end are removed for storage during winter.

The fairly small, pedestrianised town centre offers a variety of interesting shops. A recently opened Tesco is located behind the seafront buildings and I understand the adjacent wasteland, formerly a holiday campsite, is destined to become a hotel complex.

Here for the Beer

You can walk the cliff path to Beer, which offers better sea views than the walk to Lyme Regis. If you take the ‘van, bear in mind the roads are narrow and you should head for the cliff-top car park. I parked here and put my £3 in the machine only to notice on my return that parking charges didn’t start until April!
This sheltered little cove is a suntrap and always busy in good weather. Even in March the Anchor Inn with a terrace overlooking the beach was doing a roaring trade.

Branscombe Mouth

Another two miles along the coast path over Hooken Cliffs brings you to Branscombe Mouth and the licensed Sea Shanty, a thatched restaurant offering locally-sourced produce including sea bass and mussels from the sustainable Exmouth estuary.

Walk up into the picturesque village and you’ll find the National Trust’s Old Bakery Tea Rooms. Opposite is Branscombe Forge, dating from around 1580, which is the oldest working forge in the country. Here you can often see Andrew Hall hard at work creating some of the wonderful wrought iron implements and ornaments available for sale in his showroom.

The roads around Branscombe are narrow and parking is very difficult for anything larger than smaller panel vans. So it’s best to combine a visit with a coastal walk or use the 899 Coasthopper bus service.


Where to stay - recommended campsites in the area:

Abbey Gate Farm Camping and Caravanning Club CS
Musbury Road, Axminster, Devon EX13 8TT 
Tel: 01297-32882 or 07790-972634  Email: [email protected]
Web: www.abbeygatefarm.co.uk  Open: All year 
Charges: £12 for motorhome and two adults including hardstanding and hook-up  Note: Camping and Caravanning Club members only

There are campsites in Axmouth and Seaton but check opening dates.

This excerpt was taken from the August 2013 issue of MMM magazine, which as well as Devon's Axe Valley, also features motorhome travel articles on:

  • Northumberland's coast
  • Wiltshire
  • The Isle of Wight
  • Romney Marsh
  • Southwest France
  • Northern Spain

For just £2.49 you can enjoy a digital copy of the August issue of MMM now, just click here

MMM is also on sale in: WH Smiths, Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, ASDA and all good newsagents priced £3.95

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