Walk - Peak Hill
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Park in the Muttersmoor Car Park (currently free) or catch the Sidmouth Hopper. Facing the sea leave the car park by the left hand side exit (nearest to Sidmouth). Cross the road. Beware of occasional cars and weary cyclists.
Mutter's Moor is named after Abraham Mutter, an eighteenth century log merchant and turf-cutter who supplemented his income with a spot of smuggling, which he carried out as part of the infamous Jack Rattenbury's gang. He must have been particularly adept at hiding his contraband in his donkey cart and keeping his nocturnal identity a secret, because customs men, too, used the moor as a lookout for smugglers down below, but failed to spot him in their midst.
- Go through the kissing gate onto the grassland. Walk parallel to the hedge and woods on your left.
This is part of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a nationally protected landscape, designated since 1963, as well as being part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It is one of Europe's oldest and largest pebblebed heaths and is more than 200 million years old. It is owned by Clinton Devon Estates and maintained by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.
- When you reach the fence at the cliff edge you can turn right to see more of the view across to Torbay and Dartmoor.
The cliff face of Peak Hill is part of the Jurassic Coast which stretches from Orcombe Point, near Exmouth to Old Harry Rocks near Studland- 95 miles in distance. There is a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning approximately 185 million years of history.
The prominent pointed shape of High Peak can be seen ahead and to the right. This was the location of a prehistoric hill fort and was later occupied during the Roman period and in the Dark Ages.
Beyond High Peak the coastal panorama stretches over the western end of the Jurassic Coast towards the mouth of the River Exe and then beyond to Dawlish, Teignmouth and Torbay.
- When the gradient of the path becomes too steep turn around and follow the follow the South West Coast Path parallel to the cliff edge until you reach another kissing gate. Go through this onto the National Trust Land at Peak Hill.
Within the cliffs below Peak Hill and High Peak a number of very rare fossils of Triassic fish, reptiles and amphibians have been found.
There are 3 distinct layers of rock in the Peak Hill cliff face. The Mercia Mudstone (various mudstones, siltstones and sandstones) form the base of the Peak Hill. They were deposited about 200 Million years ago in the hot dry climates of the Triassic Period. Above these, in the centre of the cliff face, are layers of Upper Greensand, that were deposited about 80 Million years ago. The top of Peak Hill is underlain by flint gravel, the remains of an original cover of chalk about 60 to 65 Million years ago.
- Turn left to follow any of the criss-crossing paths back to the car park. Stay as parallel as possible to the hedge and grassland.
Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth.