Friday, 17 July 2009

Devon: Towns and Villages


Ilfracombe (pronounced /'ɪlfrɑːcoʊm/) is a seaside resort and civil parish on the north coast of Devon, England with a small harbour, surrounded by cliffs.
The parish, which includes a significant rural area and other villages outside the town of Ilfracombe, stretches along the coast from 'The Coastguard Cottages' in Hele Bay toward the east and 6 km along The Torrs to Lee Bay toward the west. The resort is hilly and the highest point within the parish boundary is at 'Hore Down Gate', 3 km inland and 270 m (860 ft) above sea level.
The landmark of Hillsborough Hill dominates the harbour and is the site of an Iron Age Celtic fortress. The award-winning Landmark Theatre is either loved or hated for its unusual double-conical design; it is distinctive and, with the St Nicholas's Chapel on Lantern Hill, a major landmark in the town.

History

Hillsborough Hill
Hillsborough is a Local Nature Reserve in Ilfracombe, North Devon and is known locally as the sleeping elephant. It is also the site of an Iron Age Hill fort atop the cliff on a Promontory at approx 115 Metres above Sea Level. The fort takes the classic shape of a Promontory reinforced and cut off landwards by a large defensive earthwork
Ilfracombe has been settled since the Iron Age, when the Dumnonii Celts established a hill fort on the dominant hill, Hillsborough (formerly Hele's Barrow). The town's name is a derivative of the Anglo-Saxon Alfreinscoma - by which name it was noted in the Exon or Exeter Domesday Book of 1086. The translation of this name (from Walter William Skeat of the department of Anglo Saxon at Cambridge University) means the "Valley of the sons of Alfred". The manor house at Chambercombe in east Ilfracombe, was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as being built by a Norman knight Champernon (from Chambernon in France) who landed with William of Normandy. It is also said to be haunted.
Ilfracombe was two distinct communities; a farming community around the parish church called Holy Trinity, parts of which date from the 12th century, and a fishing community around the natural harbour formed between Capstone, Compass and Lantern Torrs. It is recorded that the lands by the church were part of the estate owned by Champernowne family those by the harbour to the Bouchiers, Earls of Bath.
The view from St. Nicholas's Chapel in the 1890s
Ilfracombe was a significant port on the Bristol Channel. The main reasoning behind this is because of the natural layout of the harbour, which provides a safe port on a stormy Bristol Channel. It also had trade routes between Kinsale and Tenby, which made the port stronger. In 1208 it was listed as having provided King John with ships and men to invade Ireland; in 1247 it supplied a ship to the fleet that was sent to conquer the Western Isles of Scotland; ships were sent to support the siege of Calais, and it was the disembarkation point for two large forces sent to subdue the Irish.

Ilfracombe Harbour
The building which sits on Lantern Hill by the harbour, known as St Nicholas's Chapel (built 1361) is reputed to be the oldest working lighthouse in the UK; a light/beacon has been there for over 650 years.
There was a wooden fortress overlooking the harbour, of this nothing remains except contemporary records and the area designated Castle Hill off Portland St/Montepellier terrace.
The novelist Fanny Burney stayed in Ilfracombe in 1817. Her diary entries (July 31 - October 5) record early 19th century life in Ilfracombe: a captured Spanish ship; two ships in distress in a storm; the visit of Thomas Bowdler; and her lucky escape after being cut-off by the tide.
A few years later in the 1820s a set of four tunnels were hand carved to permit access to the beaches that had previously been only accessible either by climbing the cliffs or rounding the point by boat, swimming or at the lowest tides clambering around the rocks of the point. These led to a pair of tidal pools, which in accordance with Victorian morals, were used for segregated male and female bathing. These are still viewable and are signposted as Tunnels Beaches.
The song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, was written by Jane Taylor whilst staying in Braunton, only a few miles away, during the early 19th century at The George Hotel.
In 1911, the Irish nationalist Anna Catherine Parnell (sister of Charles Stewart Parnell) drowned at Ilfracombe. The actor Peter Sellers first set foot on stage here, and the Collins sisters (Joan and Jackie) went to school in the town whilst evacuees from The Blitz.

Tavistock is a market town within West Devon, England on the River Tavy, from which its name derives, and has a population of 11,018. It traces its history back at least to AD 961, when Tavistock Abbey, whose ruins lie in the centre of the town, was founded. Its most famous son is Sir Francis Drake
The area around Tavistock (formerly Tavistoke), where the River Tavy runs wide and shallow allowing it to be easily crossed, and near the secure high ground of Dartmoor, was inhabited long before the historical record. The surrounding area is littered with archaeological remains from the Bronze and Iron Ages and it is believed a hamlet existed on the site of the present town long before the town's official history began, with the founding of the Abbey.

The abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Rumon was founded in 961 by Orgar, Earl of Devon.

After destruction by Danish raiders in 997 it was restored, and among its famous abbots was Aldred, who crowned Harold II and William I, and died Archbishop of York. There is evidence to suggest that the local specialty "cream tea" was first served here; to workers during the restoration. The abbey church was rebuilt in 1285 and the greater part of the abbey in 1457-58. Tea, the drink, did not appear in England until the eighteenth century.

In 1105 a Royal Charter was granted by Henry I to the monks of Tavistock to run a weekly "Pannier Market" (so called after the baskets used to carry goods) on a Friday, which still takes place today. In 1116 a three-day fair was also granted to mark the feast of Saint Rumon, another tradition that is still maintained in the shape of the annual "Goosey" fair on 2nd Wednesday in October. In 1552 two fairs on 23 April and 28 November were granted by Edward VI to the Earl of Bedford, then lord of the manor.
In the 17th century great quantities of cloth were sold at the Friday market and four fairs were held at the feasts of Saint Michael, Epiphany, Saint Mark, and the Decollation of John the Baptist. The charter of Charles II instituted a Tuesday market, fairs on the Thursday after Whitsunday and at the feast of Saint Swithin. In 1822 the old fairs were abolished in favour of six fairs on the second Wednesdays in May, July, September, October, November and December.
By 1185 Tavistock had achieved borough status and in 1295 became a parliamentary borough, sending two members to parliament. It was deprived of one member in 1867 and finally disenfranchised in 1885. In 1305, with the growing importance of the area as one of Europe's richest sources of tin, Tavistock was one of the four stannary towns appointed by charter of Edward I, where tin was stamped and weighed and monthly courts were held for the regulation of mining affairs.
The church of Saint Eustachius (named after the Roman Centurion who became a Christian) dates from 1318 and was dedicated by Bishop Stapledon. It was further rebuilt and enlarged into its current form between 1425 and 1450, at which time the Clothworkers' Aisle was included, an indication of the growing importance of the textile industry to the local economy - the trade was protected by a 1467 statute. It possesses a lofty tower supported on four open arches, one of which was reputedly added to accommodate the 19th century "tinners" or tin miners. Within are monuments to the Glanville and Bourchier families, besides some stained glass, one window being the work of William Morris. It also has a roof boss featuring one of the so-called 'Tinner's Hares' (see Three Hares)- a trio of rabbits/hares joined at and sharing three ears between them. The town continued to prosper under the charge of the abbots, acquiring one of England's first printing presses in 1525. Tavistock remained an important centre of both trade and religion until the Dissolution of the Monasteries - the abbey was demolished in 1539, leaving the ruins still to be seen around the centre of the town. From this time on, the dominant force in the town became the Russell family, Earls and later Dukes of Bedford, who took over much of the land following the Dissolution.

Teignmouth (pronounced /ˈtɪnməθ/) is a town in Devon, England, situated on the north bank of the estuary mouth of the River Teign.
Teignmouth with Ness, 1840
In 1690, it was the last place in England to be invaded by a foreign power. The town grew from a fishing port associated with the Newfoundland cod industry to a fashionable resort of some note in Georgian times, with further expansion after the opening of the South Devon Railway in 1846. Today, its port still operates and the town remains a popular seaside holiday location.

History -To 1700

Teignmouth from above the Ness
The first record of Teignmouth (as Tengemuða, meaning mouth of the stream) was in 1044. There were originally two villages, East and West Teignmouth, separated by a stream called the Tame. Neither village is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but East Teignmouth was granted a market by charter in 1253 and one for West Teignmouth followed just a few years later.
Documents indicate that Teignmouth as a whole was a significant port by the early 14th century, second in Devon only to Dartmouth. It was significant enough to have been attacked by the French in 1340 and to have sent seven ships and 120 men to the expedition against Calais in 1347. However its relative importance waned during the 15th century, and did not figure at all in an official record of 1577. This may have been due to silting up of the harbour caused by the operations of the tin miners on Dartmoor.
During the 17th century, in common with other Channel ports, Teignmouth ships suffered from raids from Dunkirkers, which operated as privateers from Flemish ports. It is possible that smuggling was the town's most significant trade at this time, though cod fishing in Newfoundland was also of great importance.
In July 1690, after the French admiral Anne Hilarion de Tourville defeated an Anglo-Dutch fleet at the Battle of Beachy Head, the French fleet was anchored in Torbay and some of the galley fleet travelled the short distance up the coast and attacked Teignmouth. A petition to the Lord Lieutenant from the inhabitants described the incident:
“ … on the 26th day of this instant July 1690 by Foure of the clocke in the morning, your poor petitioners were invaded (by the French) to the number of 1,000 or thereabouts, who in the space of three hours tyme, burnt down to the ground the dwelling houses of 240 persons of our parish and upwards, plundered and carried away all our goods, defaced our churches, burnt ten of our ships in the harbour, besides fishing boats, netts and other fishing craft … ”
After examining 'creditable persons' the Justices of the Peace concluded that:
“ by the late horrid invasion there were within the space of 12 houres burnt downe and consumed 116 dwelling houses … and also 172 dwelling houses were rifled and plundered and two parish churches much ruined, plundred and defaced, besides the burning of ten saile of shipps with the furniture thereof, and the goods and merchandise therein … ”
As a result of this statement The Crown issued a church brief that authorised the collection of £11,000 for the aid of the town. Churches from as far afield as Yorkshire contributed, and the collections enabled the further development of the port.
This was the last invasion of England, (though not of Britain as the French invaded Carreg Gwastad, near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire in 1797). French Street with its museum is named in memory of the occasion.
Torquay (British pronounced /tɔːˈkiː/ or American pronounced /tɔrˈkiː/) is a town in the unitary authority area of Torbay and ceremonial county of Devon, England. It lies 16 miles (26 km) miles south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. Torquay’s population of 63,998 during the 2001 UK Census made it the third largest settlement in Devon. If the Torbay area, of which Torquay forms a third, were to be recognised as a city, as incumbent Torbay Mayor Nicholas Bye has proposed, it would rank as the 45th largest city in the United Kingdom with a population only slightly less than that of Brighton, which was granted city status in 2000. During the peak summer season the resort's population swells to around 200,000
The town's economy was initially based upon fishing and agriculture as in the case of Brixham across Torbay, but in the early 19th century the town began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, initially frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the Royal Navy anchored in the bay and later by the crème de la crème of Victorian society as the town's fame spread. Renowned for its healthful climate, the town earned the nickname of the English Riviera and favourable comparisons to Montpellier.
Torquay was the home of the writer Agatha Christie, who lived most of her life in Torquay. The town contains an "Agatha Christie Mile", a museum dedicated to her life and work.
Torquay's name originates in it being the quay of the ancient village of Torre. In turn, Torre takes its name from the tor, the extensively quarried remains of which can be seen by the town's Tor Hill Road
History
The area comprising modern Torquay has been inhabited since paleolithic times. Hand axes found in Kents Cavern date to, and a maxilla fragment known as Kents Cavern 4 may be the oldest example of a modern human in Europe, dating back to 37,000—40,000 years ago.
Torquay, 1811
Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay at some point during the period when Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a curious rock formation in Kent's Cavern, known as 'The Face'. No evidence has been found of Roman settlement in the town.
The first major building in what was to become Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196. Torquay remained a minor settlement until the Napoleonic wars, when Torbay was frequently used as a sheltered anchorage by the Channel Fleet, and relatives of officers often visited Torquay. The mild climate of Torquay attracted many visitors who considered the town a convalescence retreat where they could recover from illness away from the cold winters of more Northerly or Easterly locations. The population of Torquay grew rapidly from 838 in 1801, to 11,474 in 1851.
The second phase in the expansion of Torquay began when Torre railway station was opened on 18 December 1848. The improved transport connections resulted in the rapid growth of Torquay at the expense of nearby towns not on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railways

Totnes (pronounced /ˈtɒtnɨs/ or /tɒtˈnɛs/) is a market town at the head of the estuary of the River Dart in Devon, England within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is about 22 miles (35 km) south of the city of Exeter and is the administrative centre of the South Hams District Council.
Totnes has a long recorded history, dating back to 907AD when its first castle was built; it was already an important market town by the 12th century. Indications of its former wealth and importance are given by the number of merchants' houses built in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Today, the town, with its population of some 8,000, is a thriving centre for music, art, theatre and natural health. It has a sizeable alternative and "New Age" community, and is known as a place where one can live a bohemian lifestyle.
History
According to the Historia Regum Britanniae written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in around 1136, "the coast of Totness" was where Brutus of Troy, the mythical founder of Britain, first came ashore on the island. Set into the pavement of Fore Street is the 'Brutus Stone', a small granite boulder onto which, according to local legend, Brutus first stepped from his ship. As he did so, he was supposed to have declaimed:
Here I am and here I rest. And this town shall be called Totnes.
The stone is far above the highest tides and the tradition is not likely to be of great antiquity, being first mentioned in John Prince's Worthies of Devon in 1697. It is possible that the stone was originally the one from which the town crier, or bruiter called his bruit or news; or it may be le Brodestone, a boundary stone mentioned in several 15th century disputes: its last-known position in 1471 was below the East Gate.
Despite this legendary history, the first authenticated history of Totnes is in AD 907, when it was fortified by King Edward the Elder as part of the defensive ring of burhs built around Devon, replacing one built a few years earlier at nearby Halwell. The site was chosen because it was on an ancient trackway which forded the river at low tide. Between the reigns of Edgar and William II (959–1100) Totnes intermittently minted coins.

The Brutus Stone in Fore Street

The name Totnes (first recorded in 979AD) comes from the Old English personal name Totta and ness or headland. Before reclamation and development, the low-lying areas around this hill were largely marsh or tidal wetland, giving the hill much more the appearance of a "ness" than today.
By the 12th century Totnes was already an important market town, due to its position on one of the main roads of the South West, in conjunction with its easy access to its hinterland and the easy navigation of the River Dart.
By 1523, according to a tax assessment, Totnes was the second richest town in Devon, and the sixteenth richest in England, ahead of Worcester, Gloucester and Lincoln.




Landmarks

St Mary's Church

The Norman motte and bailey Totnes Castle, now owned by English Heritage, was built during the reign of William I, probably by Juhel of Totnes. The late medieval church of St Mary with its 120 feet (37 m) high west tower, visible from afar, is built of rich red Devonian sandstone. A prominent feature of the town is the Eastgate — an arch spanning the middle of the main street. This Elizabethan entrance to the walled town was destroyed in a fire in September 1990, but was rebuilt.

The Butterwalk

The ancient Leechwell, so named because of the supposed medicinal properties of its water, and apparently where lepers once came to wash, still provides fresh water. The Butterwalk is a Tudor covered walkway that was built to protect the dairy products once sold here from the sun and rain. The town museum is in one of the many authentic Elizabethan Merchant's houses in the town, built around 1575

Plymouth ( ˈplɪməθ (help·info)) is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about 190 miles (310 km) south west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound. Since 1967 the unitary authority of Plymouth has included the suburbs of Plympton and Plymstock, which are on the east side of the River Plym.
Plymouth's history goes back to the Bronze Age, when its first settlement grew at Mount Batten. This settlement continued to grow as a trading post for the Roman Empire, until the more prosperous village of Sutton, the current Plymouth, surpassed it. In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers left Plymouth for the New World and established Plymouth Colony — the second English settlement in what is now the United States of America.
During the English Civil War the town was held by the Parliamentarians and was besieged between 1642 and 1646.
Throughout the Industrial Revolution Plymouth grew as a major shipping port, handling imports and passengers from the Americas and the construction of ships for the Royal Navy. The county boroughs of Plymouth and Devonport, and the urban district of East Stonehouse were merged to form a single county borough of Plymouth collectively referred to as The Three Towns. The city's naval importance later led to its targeting and partial destruction during World War II, an act known as the Plymouth Blitz. After the war the city centre was completely rebuilt.

Plymouth city looking from the sound
Today the city is home to over 250,000 people, making it the 15th most populous city in England. It has its own city council and is represented nationally by three MPs. Plymouth's economy is still strongly influenced by shipbuilding, but has become a more service-based economy since the 1990s. It has the 11th largest university in the United Kingdom by number of students, the University of Plymouth, and the largest operational naval base in Western Europe — HMNB Devonport. Plymouth has ferry links to France and Spain and an airport with international services.

Early history
Upper Palaeolithic deposits, including bones of Homo sapiens, have been found in local caves, and artifacts dating from the Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age have been found at Mount Batten showing that it was one of the main trading ports of the country at that time. The settlement of Plympton, further up the River Plym than the current Plymouth, was also an early trading port, but the river silted up in the early 11th century and forced the mariners and merchants to settle at the current day Barbican near the river mouth. At the time this village was called Sutton, meaning south town in Saxon.
The name Plymouth, meaning "mouth of the River Plym" — the river name being a back-formation from Plympton ("Plum-tree town"), was first mentioned in a Pipe Roll of 1211.

Early defence and Renaissance
A sketch of Plymouth circa. 1600

During the Hundred Years' War a French attack (1340) burned a manor house and took some prisoners, but failed to get into the town. In 1403 the town was burned by Breton raiders. A series of fortifications were built in the Tudor and Elizabethan eras, which include the four round towers featured on the city coat of arms; the remains of two of these can still be found at Mount Batten and at Sutton Pool below the Royal Citadel.
During the 16th century locally produced wool was the major export commodity. Plymouth was the home port for successful maritime traders, among them Sir John Hawkins, who led England's first foray into the Atlantic slave trade, as well as Sir Francis Drake.
Plymouth Hoe in the Sound looking towards Devon and Cornwell

According to legend, Drake insisted on completing his game of bowls on the Hoe before engaging the Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World from Plymouth, establishing Plymouth Colony — the second English colony in what is now the United States of America. During the English Civil War Plymouth sided with the Parliamentarians and was besieged for almost four years by the Royalists. The last major attack by the Royalist was by Sir Richard Grenville leading thousands of soldiers towards Plymouth, but they were defeated by the Plymothians. The civil war ended as a Parliamentary win, but monarchy was restored by King Charles II in 1649, who imprisoned many of the Parliamentary heroes on Drake's Island. Construction of the Royal Citadel began in 1665, after the Restoration; it was armed with cannon facing both out to sea and into the town, rumoured to be a reminder to residents not to oppose the Crown.

Northeastward view of Plymouth Sound from Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall,



Paignton (pronounced /ˈpeɪntən/) is a coastal town in Devon in England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the unitary authority of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known as the English Riviera. Paignton's population in the United Kingdom Census of 2001 was 48,251.
It has origins as a Celtic settlement and was first mentioned 1086. It grew as a small fishing village and a new harbour was built in 1847. A railway line was opened to passengers in 1859 creating links to Torquay and London. As its population increased, it merged with the villages of Goodrington and Preston.
History
Paignton is mentioned in records dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086 AD. Formerly spelled both as Peynton and Paington, the name has is derived from Paega's town, the original Celtic settlement.
Paignton was a small fishing village until the 19th century, when in 1837 the Paington (sic) Harbour Act led to the construction of a new harbour. It was around this time that the modern spelling of Paignton first appeared. The historic part of Paignton is centred around Church Street, Winner Street and Palace Avenue which contains fine examples of Victorian architecture. Kirkham House is a late medieval stone house in the town which is open to the public at certain times of year. The Coverdale Tower is adjacent to Paignton Parish Church and is named after Bishop Miles Coverdale, who published an English translation of the Bible in 1536. Coverdale was Bishop of Exeter between 1551 and 1553 and is said to have lived in the tower during this period, although this is regarded as doubtful by modern historians

Barnstaple (pronounced /ˈbɑrnstəbəl/ ( listen)) is a town in the local government district of North Devon in the county of Devon in the south west of England. It lies 68 miles (109 km) west southwest of Bristol, 50 miles (80 km) north of Plymouth and 34 miles (55 km) northwest of the county town of Exeter.
It is the main town of the district and claims to be the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. It was founded at the lowest crossing point of the River Taw, about 3 miles (5 kilometres) from the Taw's seafall at the Bristol Channel. By the time of the Domesday Book, Barnstaple had its own mint. Its size and wealth in the Middle Ages was based on it being within the staple, a staple port licensed to export wool, and its importance is still obvious in the town's name. The wool trade was further aided by the town's excellent port, with five ships being sent in 1588 to aid the fight against the Spanish Armada.
It was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835. Since 1974, it has been a civil parish with a town council
The village of Beer is in south east Devon, England, on Lyme Bay. It is situated on the 95 mile long Jurassic Coastline, England's first natural World Heritage Site and it's picturesque cliffs form part of the South West Coastal path. The name is not derived from the drink but from the old Anglo-Saxon word "bearu" ("grove"), referring to the original forestation that surrounded the town. It is a pretty coastal village, 25 miles from Exeter, that grew up around a smugglers' cove and caves which were once used to store contraband goods. These are now part of the attraction of the village. Many of the buildings are faced with flint, a hard glassy stone found in the local chalk rock.
Historically, the main sources of income for the village include fishing and lace production. Boats are winched up the beach as there is no harbour, and fresh fish is sold nearby.
A brook winds its way in an open conduit alongside the main road down to the sea. It was said that you were not truly a local until you had fallen into it!
The shape of the coastline allowed local seafarers to operate in weather conditions when other towns could not, as it is protected from the prevailing westerly winds by Beer Head and the chalk cliffs which are the furthest outcrop of limestone on the SW coast.
Today, the sources of income are mainly tourism and fishing. Beer is also the home of the Pecorama model railway exhibition centre.
Beer has a steep pebble beach. This makes walking on the beach difficult. Long rubber mats — actually recycled conveyor belts — are laid down to assist walkers.
Beer is home to an enormous man-made cave complex, the Beer Quarry Caves, resulting from the quarrying of Beer stone. This stone has been prized since Roman times, because of its workability for carving and for its gentle yellow colour on exposure to air. Beer stone was used in the construction of 24 cathedrals around the UK, including Exeter Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, and was also used in the building of Christchurch Cathedral, New York. Bovey House, an Elizabethan manor house, is a mile inland.
Starre House, the oldest house in Beer is built using the local Beer stone that has been quarried since Roman times
Sidmouth (pronounced /ˈsɪdməθ/) is a small town on the English Channel coast in Devon, South West England. The town lies at the mouth of the River Sid in the East Devon district, 15 miles (24 km) south east of Exeter. It has a population of about 15,000, of whom 40% are over 65. The town is a tourist resort and a gateway town on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A large part of the town has been designated as a Conservation area.

History
Sidmouth appeared in the Domesday Book as Sedemuda. Like many towns on the south coast, it was a small fishing village. Though attempts have been made to construct a harbour here, none have succeeded, and a lack of shelter in the bay prevented the town growing as a port.
Sidmouth remained a small village until the fashion for coastal resorts grew in the Georgian and Victorian periods of the 18th and 19th centuries. The town became a fashionable resort for the gentry in the early nineteenth century. The town's numerous fine Georgian and Regency villas and mansions are now mostly hotels.

Salcombe Bay

Sidmouth lies at the mouth of the River Sid, as its name suggests, in a valley between Peak Hill to the west and Salcombe Hill to the east. The town is surrounded by the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is on the Jurassic Coast world heritage site and the South West Coast Path.
Erosion remains a serious concern east of the mouth of the River Sid. The cliffs have been heavily eroded, threatening cliff top homes and the coastal footpath.

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