|East Devon has some of the most attractive countryside in
Britain. The district is part of the county of Devon in south-west England and covers 315
square miles. It contains a world heritage site as well as habitats of national and
Humans have moulded
the landscape which we see today. East Devon features a rolling green countryside and
narrow wooded valleys are widely scattered over much of area. The patchwork of irregularly
shaped fields are typically bordered by thick hedges. Narrow single track country lanes
provide a network of communication although there are many main roads serving the centres
of population. The largest town in East Devon is Exmouth which is situated at the mouth of
the river Exe.
Many of the smaller towns are old market towns and farming is
still one of the most important industries. Livestock predominates although on on the
drier soils of the south west part of the district there is more arable farming.
Much of East Devon is of recognised landscape value and the
area contains many designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A large part of
the north of the district is covered by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty
(AONB). The Blackdowns are made up of Upper Greensand and the geology is unique in
Britain. To the south, this borders the East Devon AONB which runs down to the coast and
The coastline is outstanding and is now a natural World
Heritage site because of its geology. Red Devon sandstone cliffs to the west contrast with
the chalk outcrops which are more prevalent to the east of the district's coastline. Here,
there is an area known as the Undercliff which stretches into Dorset. Much of this was
formed in December 1839 when a large section of cliff fell down creating the area now
known as the Undercliff. Today it is reputed to be Europe's largest self sown Ash forest.
In addition to these landscapes, East Devon has several
rivers which flow south into the sea. The smallest of these are the river Sid and the
river Otter. The Otter estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This a UK
The most easterly river is the river Axe which rises at
Cheddington in Dorset as a small stream. It runs through the Axe valley for many miles. As
it passes through the old roman town of Axminster, which is famous for its carpets, the
river valley markedly widens and flattens before exiting into the sea at Axmouth. The Axe
estuary is considered to be important from a European perspective and as such is a
candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The largest East Devon river is undoubtedly the Exe which
runs along much of the west of the district. The Exe has been designated a Ramsar site by
the International Convention on Wetlands because of its significance for wildfowl.
Lowland Heath is a major landscape feature which is found
throughout East Devon. At one time heathland would have stretched over all those areas of
East Devon which have greensand soils. Agricultural improvement, forestry, roads and
housing have significantly reduced the amount of heathland, nevertheless many heathland
areas still exist.
The wildlife of the area is as varied as its countryside.
Mammals such as roe deer, foxes, badgers and bats are common. The landscape harbours both
acidic and chalk soils and thus a variety of habitats are found. The chalk of the
Undercliff is famous for its wildflowers as it is for its Peregrine Falcons. The acid
boggy heaths are home to insectivorous sundews, whilst the lanes of East Devon are famous
for their show of Primroses. In spring, many of the broad-leaved woodlands have
spectacular carpets of bluebells. But there is more to East Devon's wildlife than the few
species which are mentioned here. This website provides an excellent insight of the world
of East Devon's varied wildlife, from fungi to butterflies.
You can find out more about East
Devon's wildlife, woodlands and heathland here!