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Set amidst a shelf of crumbling red sandstone, SIDMOUTH is the chief resort on the east Devon coast. The cream-and-white town boasts nearly five hundred buildings listed as having special historic or architectural interest, among them the stately Georgian homes of York Terrace behind the Esplanade. Both the mile-long main town beach and Jacob's Ladder, a cliff-backed shingle and sand strip to the west of town, are easily accessible and well tended.
To the east, the coast path climbs steep Salcombe Hill to follow cliffs that give sanctuary to a range of birdlife including yellowhammers, green woodpeckers and the rarer grasshopper warbler. Further on, the path descends to meet one of the most isolated and attractive beaches in the area, Weston Mouth.
Sidmouth hosts what many consider to be Britain's best folk festival (www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk) over eight days in early August. It's an upbeat, often rollicking affair, with folk and roots artists performing at venues all over town plus numerous ceilidhs and buskers.
The resort is easily reached from Exeter on bus #52A or #52B.
Gracious Seafront Hotel housed in 18th century building with Regency facade.