Top five places in Sidmouth to explore and photograph

Updated: Jul 17

A high-up view of Sidmouth's seafront, as seen from High Peak Hill at the western end of the coastline. The photo was taken during summertime at low tide, which reveals the golden sands of this beautiful stretch of the Jurassic coastline.
Golden sands, wildflower meadows and hidden gardens are just some of the treasures in Sidmouth waiting to be discovered. This gem-of-a-view can be seen from High Peak Hill at the Western end of the coast.

What is Sidmouth like? Take a camera and find out

This guide provides the avid photographer (of any ability) with five of my recommended spots around Sidmouth to explore with a camera.

Sidmouth in East Devon is often referred to as the 'jewel in the crown' on the Jurassic coast. It certainly is a beautiful seaside town and a photographer's dream to explore, with an abundance of subjects and locations to discover.

Ever since I was little Sidmouth has been a much-loved place for me and my family. While growing up in nearby Ottery St Mary, I would regularly spend my weekends in the regency town with my mum, dad and three siblings. 

When my father died in 2001 he left me his old SLR Pentax ME camera and that was when I first discovered my passion for photography.

Six years later and my passion became my career. I joined the local newspaper, the Sidmouth Herald, as a staff photographer and I have since explored and photographed nearly every corner of this delightful seaside destination.

Sunset at Jacob's Ladder beach, Sidmouth. Taken from the top of the ladder looking down with a golden sunset bathing the sea in a warm hue.
Golden view of Jacob's Ladder beach.
Join in | Why not join my Facebook Group - Sidmouth Pictures - to see more stunning photos of this wonderful place and share your own.

1. Connaught Gardens

A wild flower bed in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth. The flowers are in bloom during summertime. There are ruins of the old brick building, which have been preserved and make up the backdrop to the walled gardens.
A wild flower bed in bloom during summertime.

To the western end of the seafront you will discover the beautiful public park of Connaught Gardens.

No visit to Sidmouth would be complete without a stroll around this wonderful secluded area. Maintained by East Devon District Council and the volunteers of local horticultural group Sidmouth in Bloom, these gardens provide any photographer with a near endless array of subject matter. 

There is a different mix of plants and trees to discover in the glorious wildflower beds and don't miss the cacti greenhouse, especially if you enjoy taking close-up pictures.

(Take a look at my macro photography Facebook page - My Little World - to see some examples of the shots you could capture while exploring the gardens).

View of Sidmouth town and seafront in East Devon (UK) from the clifftop walkway in Connaught Gardens. Picture taken in summertime when visitors flock to the town. Many people gather at the end of the walkway to look over the railings at the packed beach and sea.
Looking East across the seafront from one of the many walkways found in Connaught Gardens.

The sights from the eastern side of the gardens are simply beautiful and on a clear day you can enjoy stunning views right across the seafront, towards Salcombe Regis and beyond.

There is a small, fairly hidden, old stairway that connects Connaught Gardens to the walkway and beach below - but be careful; it is steep and not for the feint-hearted.

The Connaught Gardens bandstand in the heart of the grounds. Picture shows the striking, unique, architecture of the roof-covered stage during summertime with beautiful flowers in the foreground and a sunny blue sky with puffy white clouds.
The bandstand where many performances take place, especially during the annual week-long Folk Festival (first week in August).

In the very heart of the grounds you will find the bandstand and lawn, which is the place to be to enjoy the many public performances throughout the year. You can often watch the Sidmouth Town Band in concert here, as well as a whole host of other musicians and dance groups, performing during Sidmouth Folk Festival week in the summer.

There's nothing quite like taking a picnic along and sitting back to enjoy the live music and dance. See my gallery from Folk Festival 2018 for more pictures of this fantastic event.

Remember to keep an eye on the notice boards by the steps to Manor Road for a list of upcoming events and remember to take your camera along!

Remember to keep an eye on the notice boards by the steps to Manor Road for a list of upcoming events and don't forget to take your camera along.

At the western end of the gardens you will find The Clock Tower Cakery & Restaurant - a welcome place to stop for a coffee and cake and enjoy the glorious views across the water. While you are here, don't miss my exhibition in the restaurant where you can also purchase some of my work.

When you are ready to continue your photographic adventure then head out through the picturesque stonewall archway, which beautifully frames High Peak hill and the sea stacks of Ladram Bay in the distance. From here you will discover the steep white steps of Jacob's Ladder, which descends to the pebbly beach below.

Tog Tips

The ladder and clock tower are both iconic sights of Sidmouth, and despite being a much photographed spot it's still possible to find unique viewpoints to take pictures from - it just takes a little bit of thought.

For instance: at low tide you can walk out to the rock pools at Chit Rocks, located on the beach at the foot of the steps. If you get down low enough then you might just be able to frame-up a different kind of view to the everyday one most people come away with (see my picture below).

Why not try your own take on this landmark from this same viewpoint? Perhaps look for a reflection of the steps in the rock pools or put the camera on a tripod and capture a long exposure of the ladder - showing movement of the clouds behind and people walking up the steps.

More information about Connaught gardens can be found on: East Devon District Council's website.

2. The Byes

The Byes is a stunning riverside park stretching for just over a mile from the toll house at Salcombe Road to the small village of Sidford to the north of Sidmouth.

Walking the length of the park takes in many rolling fields and grassy meadows while following the tranquil River Sid as it winds its way to the sea.

A kingfisher spotted through verdant spring leaves waiting for a fish in the river below.
A kingfisher perched above the river hunting for fish in the deep waters below.

Tog Tips

If wildlife photography is your preferred subject then be sure to keep a lookout for kingfishers, dippers and grey wagtails hunting by the water's edge.

The toll house marks the start of The Byes parkland, which is walking and cyclist friendly.

During the summer months you can enjoy the beauty of the wildflower meadows, which grow at the edge of the park. These are purposely seeded by the Sid Vale Association to encourage an enriched habitat that attracts all manner of insects, especially bees and butterflies, perfect subjects for you to practise your close-up camera skills.

Follow this link to find out more about The Byes

3. Salcombe Hill

The red cliffs of Salcombe Hill are synonymous with Sidmouth's seafront. This picture shows the iconic red cliffs rising up at the East end of the seafront with the hotels and lifeboat station at the foot of the South West Coast Path.
Salcombe Hill rises up at the East end of Sidmouth seafront.

When I think of Sidmouth I immediately picture the iconic red sandstone of the Jurassic cliffs, which make up this stretch of the coastline.

Climbing above the rooftops to the eastern end of the seafront you will see the steep slope of Salcombe Hill (maintained by the National Trust).

It's a relatively short and moderate climb up and along this stretch of the South West Coast Path, from the seafront to the top of the hill, where you can sit on the bench and enjoy the glorious vista across Sidmouth.

Alma Bridge.
Alma Bridge spans the River Sid.

To reach Salcombe Hill from the seafront, first walk to the far side of the eastern end of the promenade and cross Alma bridge, which spans the mouth of the River Sid.

DO NOT be tempted to go down to the beach here. The cliff face is very unstable and rock falls are common - this part of the beach is very dangerous.

Instead, climb the slope and head on up the hill, following signs for the South West Coast Path.

A cliff fall during Sidmouth Folk Festival 2017 at East Beach.
Cliff falls are increasingly common along East Beach, such as this one I captured during Folk Week in 2017.

Once you have rejoined the path, having walked up Cliff Road and Laskey's Lane, you will find the entrance to the long clifftop field. But before you carry on up, have a wander around the small field to your right, known as Alma Field.

This area is managed by Sidmouth Town Council, which sows wild flowers here that burst in to flower for late springtime. The vibrant mix of poppies, ox-eye daisies and other colourful plants attract many kinds of pollinators and simply cries out for a macro lens to be fitted to your camera.

Once you've taken in your fill of the gorgeous wildflowers continue on up the path and make your way into the large field that stretches for most of the length of the climb.

Pictured is the wooden bench that overlooks Sidmouth, High Peak Hill and the coastline at Ladram Bay from the top of Salcombe Hill.
A welcome break from the long climb up the hill.

As you reach the end of the grassy field you will find a bench to rest your feet and to appreciate the sumptuous views of the Sid Valley.

Tog Tips

Most landscape photographers will tell you to put a wide-angle lens in your kit bag for capturing sweeping vistas, such as the one above. I couldn't agree more; but why limit your range of potential photos by sticking to recommended types of equipment? If you are comfortable with carrying larger and heavier lenses around then I would definitely suggest taking a telephoto, too, a