The village of Beer is a complete contrast to regal and ordered Sidmouth, and arriving on foot very much feels like you have gone back in time to the rustic old fishing village of yesteryear.
Nestled into a deep rock ravine between gleaming white cliffs, the place manages to be both thoroughly picturesque and a proper working fishing village at the same time. The small fishing fleet of multicoloured boats is iconic here - dragged up and moored every night high on the pebble beach, whilst the day’s catch is sold from the Beer Fisheries shack, alongside which lobster and crab pots are stacked high.
You will notice the cliffs have changed as well as the architecture – suddenly you are surrounded by white chalk, a mere 70 million years old and discovered to be perfect for masonry. In fact, Beer Stone has been quarried for 2000 years and was used in a number of famous buildings including the Tower of London and Windsor Castle.
These cliffs are a honeycomb of tunnels and caves, one vast underground cathedral, which made them very useful for hoarding smugglers bounty for which this village was notorious. If you get the time don't miss the superb trips into the Beer Quarry Caves where you can explore the workings which were originally started by the Romans and then taken over by the smugglers. More information is available in the Heritage Centre in the village.
The main street runs directly inland from the beach with rough flint cottages and rushing streams running down the sides of the road. These days gift and craft shops and cafes may be the main occupants of the buildings, but previously the village was very famous for its lace makers; Queen Victoria’s wedding dress was woven here.
All this industry, legitimate or otherwise, was obviously thirsty work as there are still a larger than normal number of pubs all within a short walk serving local delicacies like Devon oysters, crab and flounders fished from the beach.