Lauren Heath drives Lyme Regis to Exeter

Lauren Heath drives Section 3 enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous food

At the beginning of our route is Lyme Regis, a quaint seaside town with the core shops, restaurants and historical harbourside and beach at the summit of this area’s steep infrastructure.

Where else can you find a mix of pebbles and sand on one cute cove? With seafront eateries, infinite ice cream offerings and back lane finds, Lyme Regis may be small but it’s perfectly formed with an array of independent eateries.

Want to grab a bite on the go? Head to Red Panda for Southeast Asian favourites – the Taiwanese bao featuring meaty favourites of aromatic pork belly or Malaysian satay chicken. Prefer meat-free? There’s Japanese teriyaki tofu or Szechuan spicy tofu to satisfy your appetite.

If you have the desire to dine in and casually consume some taste bud tingling fayre then head to SWIM. Don’t worry, you’re close enough to the sea to smell it but you won’t get wet as the name suggests… this wood clad interior waterfront venue has a fantastic terrace for when the weather is kind, and when not, the sliding glass doors will keep you dry and cosy yet still with a view.

Food from breakfast till late is on offer; the basis of the menu is good quality local produce and British classics such as hand-picked crab and Dorset longhorn beef, and then an array of influences and twists including sticky Korean wings with Gochujang sauce, Japanese ribs, Mexican nachos, and panko mushroom burger, kohlrabi salads and vegan Ssamjang sauce to name a few.

Just after a simple fresh pot of cockles, then head down the cobbles to find the The Wet Fish Shop.

Let’s hop in the car and head along the A3052 as we say goodbye to Dorset and hello to Devon. Kitchen at The Donkey Sanctuary, near Sidmouth is a Taste of the West award-winning cafe with great views and the bonus of some demure donkeys and the opportunity to get lost in the maze, or walk down to the remote cove below to burn off your consumption.

Further along, if you fancy a bit of family friendly par 3 golf, Oak Mead golf course is a must for any wannabe Tiger Woods. There’s a café and shop with irresistible ice cream to boot. Maybe book a static caravan at neighbouring Oakdown Touring and Holiday Park, and recharge for a new day of adventuring!

Heading south on the B3178 back to the coastline, towards Budleigh Salterton, we’re not going to ask you to munch anymore…for now. Instead we encourage you to pop into The Tipsy Merchant, a small family run independent wine and spirit merchant. With local beers, wines and a vast array of gins on offer, if you want something different and especially would like a local tipple, The Tipsy Merchant offers a personal service and can help you choose something new at a similar cost to that of the faceless big players.

Did you know that Devon has over 15 gin distilleries and over 20 wineries and vineyards? If you fancy buying wine from the source and learning more about wine making, then head to Budleigh Salterton’s very own award-winning boutique vineyard, Lily Farm Vineyard located just half a mile from the sea. With tours from late May to late September, Thursday to Saturday, you can enjoy a tasting of three wines amidst wonderful views from its South West facing position and buy some bottles to takeaway; booking is essential.

Booze in the boot, let’s head to Exmouth. With a 2 mile stretch of beach, this seaside town is a watersport enthusiasts dream – in the calm it’s paddleboard heaven and in the wind, get your kite surfing gear out and go for it! Orcombe Point is perfect for sea dipping or bucket and spade adventures with a converted container from Bumble and Sea, selling perfect pastel de natas, local coffee and more.

For the less sports enthused, why not hop on a laidback boat cruise with Stuart Line Cruises and go bird watching or even on a cream tea cruise. Want to land your own dinner? All aboard with Exe Fishing on their mackerel fishing trips; spectators welcome too, these trips last 2 hours and you get to keep your catch! All equipment provided, just bring yourself and appropriate clothing and get ready to reel ‘em in!

If catching your own dinner isn’t for you then head to Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant where fish, meat and veg will be expertly prepared on charcoal for you. Michael Caines MBE’s more casual beachside eatery, has an upstairs seaside cool yet sophisticated restaurant with far reaching sea views and front row sunset seats in their glass encased terrace. Downstairs, feel free to walk-in straight off the beach, for Miami beachfront vibes dining with burgers, wood-fired pizzas and live music on some evenings throughout the summer.

After Michelin dining instead? Michael’s first born is the one Michelin starred Lympstone Manor, positioned halfway between Exmouth and Exeter. So this one might need planning before you set off as it’s open to non-residents who book in advance, but think incredible taster menus, sunsets from the terrace, and if you wish to rest your weary head, why not relax in one of their estuary inspired luxurious rooms with copper roll top baths or head to the bottom of the garden, through the young vineyards and get cosy in an uber-glam-ping shepherds hut.

As we make our way to our final destination of Exeter on this route, you can’t avoid pulling in to Darts Farm on the edge of Topsham. This once humble farm shack has grown exponentially and is continuously decorated in awards, passing through the generations of Darts running it. Now a tourist magnet, luring in the locals alike with its huge array of local produce including their own Devon Red Ruby cows, and high-quality selected products from far flung lands (think epic Italian pesto). They also have an incredible butchery counter bursting with the basics but also their own meaty creations, deli and cheeses, drinks corner, restaurant, café, takeaway hut and a large green outdoor area for the kiddies to run around and see a few animals, rest your weary legs on the picnic benches, and even bike hire for some estuary cycle route escapades if you have the energy.

Topsham itself has a fantastic array of independent eateries and boutique shops, with the trainline leading directly to Exeter where the city is your oyster!

 

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