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Otterton — Devon, England

Otterton is a small village in a lovely valley, whose historic origins precede most of the villages in this quiet, pastoral setting.

OttertonPrior to the arrival of the Normans, the area was believed to be settled by the Saxons and became the largest settlement in the South East of Devon. Originally this picturesque village with its thatched roofs, brick and cob buildings was a port town; however over the centuries, as the river Otter became laden with silt, Otterton became agricultural. There is still farming in the outlying environs of Otterton, but the economics of the village now includes tourism due to the thousands of people that come to visit the Otter Estuary Nature Reserve. Visitors also come to Otterton to walk to Ladram Bay and to see the shingle beach, red sandstone stacks and small caves.

The Nature Reserve is also a Site of Scientific Interest due to the ecosystem that supports thousands of birds of many varieties throughout the year. The Reserve, owned and operated by Clinton Devon Estates joins up with the South West Coast Path eastwards and up to the magnificent cliffs that are part of the Jurassic Coast with its prehistoric fossils, magnificent cliffs and rock formations. This part of the coast has been named a World Heritage Site as designated by the United Nations for its prehistoric age.

The walk to the Reserve and the Jurassic Coast begins in Otterton at the end of the village where the picturesque bridge built in 1827 over the River Otter is located. The village green and the distinct church tower that rises above the town is part of the scenic panorama of Otterton. The church tower at the eastern end of the present nave, is believed to be a remnant of the monk's church that was pulled down after the Dissolution. The other noteworthy historic building is the Otter Mill, set beside the River Otter by the side of the nineteenth century bridge in this photograph. On this side of the bridge is the trail head for the walk along the River Otter. The Mill has been painstakingly restored and is still a working mill, with evidence that a watermill was in use here since 100AD. The presence of Neolithic flint tools suggests that this area was used since early times, and Roman remains by the River Otter suggests this is when the first mill was built. Today the Mill is known for its wonderful restaurant, its superb bakery and the resident artists whose works are sold at the Mill's Gallery. It is noteworthy that the Mill's owners are actively involved in creating an ecologically sound environment for some of the wild birds whose species have diminished.

Of course when you visit Otterton, upon entering the village you will sight the prominent "Bicton Scriptural Direction Post" (or Brick Cross for short), a pillar in the centre of the crossroads, surmounted by a cross with religious inscriptions. It was placed there in 1580 by order of the Sheriff of Devon who had to order the burning of a witch. No doubt this was erected as a warning to those professing, or shall we say, those practicing witchcraft as a profession.

Where is Otterton?

Otterton is located near the Devon coast between Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth. The nearest populated areas include Budleigh Salterton to the south and Sidmouth to the north east.

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