Walk - Budleigh Salterton Seafront
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Budleigh Salterton is a charming seaside town with very much a traditional, “olde-worlde” character. This unspoilt character is partly a result of the pebbly beach, which prevented it from ever becoming a resort for large scale tourism.
Budleigh Salterton's name comes from the 33 salters who made a living out of salt panning for the Abbot of Otterton Priory. Salt panning here goes back at least as far as Roman times, and possibly further.
- Start the walk at the eastern end of the town, at the Lime Kiln car park by the estuary of the River Otter.
The car park is named after the old lime kiln by the entrance. Coal and limestone were brought in (usually from Brixham) on special flat-bottomed boats, which were beached here at high tide and then unloaded at low tide. The limestone was burnt in the kiln to make lime, which was used for fertiliser, and for plastering the walls of the cob cottages.
From the time the Saxons first arrived here, in the eighth century, until Tudor times, the harbour was at Otterton, which was known then as Oterey Haven. Over time, however, shingle and pebbles were washed into the mouth of the river, and a massive storm in the sixteenth century blocked the mouth of it altogether. Plans to blast a new channel in it to restore shipping to Otterton were scuppered by the arrival of the railway in the nineteenth century, and the land was reclaimed for agricultural use, with labour provided by French prisoners of war following the Napoleonic Wars.
Budleigh Salterton beach was formed almost entirely of cobbles and pebbles which the sea has eroded from the cliffs to the west of the beach. The pebbles are part of a band of infertile land known as the Bunter Pebble Beds. These were formed during the Triassic period, about 240 million years ago, when giant rivers flowed through a desert landscape, depositing these pebbles and sand, which subsequently dried out and were compressed into the red cliffs like those beyond the beach.
The pebbles are formed of a hard quartzite which has been found to be identical to one formed in Brittany some 450 million years ago. Budleigh Salterton pebbles have been found as far away as Hastings in Kent, having been swept along the coast by the sea.
- Walk along the promenade until the road veers away from the seafront. Descend the steps or slope to continue along the promenade. The path travels slightly uphill until a collection of seats is reached. Sit and enjoy the view until you wish to return along the same route back to the carpark.
Two cafes selling hot and cold refreshments open during the summer months. Seating available.