Stay and play
Stage 6, start location: Sidmouth
The East Devon coastal town of Sidmouth will be the riders’ start location for Stage 6 of the Tour. Nestled beneath the striking red cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and the green hills of the Sid Valley, Sidmouth is situated on the route of the South West Coast Path and surrounded by the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Originally a fishing village, Sidmouth grew into a fashionable coastal resort in the Georgian and Victorian periods. The numerous fine Georgian and Regency villas and mansions are now mostly hotels including the Royal Glen Hotel which accommodated Queen Victoria when she was young.
Sidmouth still has a unique charm, its wide Esplanade that has been a prominent feature since Regency times remains an ideal place to sit in a deckchair to watch the sea or even a bike race! At one end are the red cliffs, and at the other is Jacob’s Ladder Beach. Popular with tourists is Jacob’s Ladder; a simple series of wooden steps leading up to a viewing point for Jacob’s Ladder Beach and the entrance to one of Sidmouth’s best features, Connaught Gardens.
There are all year round entertainment & activities in Sidmouth including entertainment at the Manor Pavilion; a delightful air conditioned community theatre, an annual summer play festival, band concerts in Connaught Gardens, the famous Sidmouth Folk Week and Regatta. On December 26th crowds are even out on Sidmouth seafront for the Boxing Day swim.
There are a variety of good restaurants housed in many of its fine hotels, while its cafes and pubs serve excellent food to suit all tastes. The cob walled coffee shop (formerly the Old Ship Inn) originally thought to be a monastery, dates back to 1350 and was a smugglers’ rendezvous.
Along the streets are many fabulous and unique shops including the wonderful ‘Fields’, one of only a few select, family owned and managed, independent department stores left in England.
Sidmouth is ideal for memorable coastal walks and bike rides. The Buzzard Cycle Route (Regional Route 52) is a circular route in East Devon taking in Sidmouth, Seaton, Axminster, Honiton, Woodbury and Exmouth. Some of the route follows the National Cycle Network Route 2 along the south coast of Devon.
Slightly further along the coast is National Route 33 between Seaton and Axminster, largely on road.
A Gateway Town to the Jurassic Coast
Sidmouth is an ideal point of access to explore the Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage site. Covering 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to Dorset, the rocks of the Jurassic Coast record 185 million years of the Earth’s history.
World Heritage status was achieved because of the site’s unique insight into the Earth Sciences as it clearly depicts a geological ‘walk through time’ spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
World Heritage Sites are places of ‘outstanding universal value’ selected by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
As in 2011, the riders will once again pass right through the centre of the stunning cathedral city of Exeter. A thriving city with a rich history spanning more than 2,000 years from Roman times, Exeter combines a wealth of visitor attractions and architectural splendour with a bountiful array of shops, restaurants, bars and live music venues.
The historic Cathedral Close is home to the former Mol’s Coffee House once frequented by both Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake. Nearby are the unique 14th century underground passages. These passages have long fascinated local people and there are various stories of buried treasure, secret tunnels for priests and nuns and even one about a ghost on a bicycle!
Exeter is the cultural heart of the South West, hosting a year-round programme of vibrant festivals and events catering for all ages and interests. Its compact size makes it easy to get around and see the sights. Key areas to visit include the Castle Quarter, Cathedral Quarter, West Quarter, Princesshay, Southernhay and the historic Quayside.
Cycling is a great way of getting around this bike-friendly city! As a recreational activity or just as a means of transport, cycling is free, fun and convenient. The combination of flat, traffic-free routes in the city and leisure routes in the surrounding areas – like the Exe Estuary Trail – allows people of all ages and abilities to enjoy this healthy activity.
The spectacular Exe Estuary Trail cycle route and footpath is a largely off-road trail that follows the eastern bank of the River Exe from the Quayside in Exeter through the pretty villages of Topsham, Exton and Lympstone to finish by the sea in Exmouth. The route is part of the National Cycle Network Route 2 which meanders along the side of the Exe Estuary, a beautiful wildlife reserve which provides a year-round haven for thousands of bird.
The Exe Cycle Route (or Exe Valley Ride) is part of the developing network of cycle routes in Exeter. Starting from Exwick, the route follows the western bank of the River Exe, linking to the City Centre, through Exeter’s historic and attractive Quay to the village of Exminster. The route is fairly flat and traffic-free and takes in some fantastic views along the River Exe and Exe Estuary.
Stage 6, finish location: Haytor, Dartmoor National Park
For the first time in the modern era of the race, riders will finish Stage 6 with a King of the Mountains climb on Dartmoor. With its stunning landscape and breathtaking views Dartmoor is a perfect setting for a cycle race and will present a real challenge for the riders and a great location for spectators.
Dartmoor National Park is the largest area of open country in southern England. Its central location in the county of Devon makes it a popular place for recreation. Whilst many people come to Dartmoorto enjoy the beautiful scenery, many come to get active! With over 450 miles (730km) of public rights of way, there is an abundance of walking and cycling routes to suit all tastes and abilities. Whether you are a passionate pedaller or just a casual cyclistDartmoorhas everything you could wish for – safe, traffic-free trails, quiet forest tracks, challenging bridleways and historic rural lanes to enjoy at your own pace.
The Granite Way, built along the course of the former Southern Region railway line, is a mainly traffic-free cycle/walkway between Okehampton and Lydford. It is part of the National Cycle Network route number 27 ‘Devon Coast to Coast’ between Ilfracombe and Plymouth. Much of the Way is within Dartmoor National Park. The trail is ideal for families and those new to regular cycling.
Drake’s Trail is a network of walking and cycling trails that runs along the edge ofDartmoor. The network has something for all age groups and fitness levels, starting with the new off-road cycling section between Tavistock and Plymouth.
A new landmark on the Trail is Gem Bridge, a 24-metre high cycle and pedestrian bridge near Tavistock. The £2.1m bridge, spanning 200 metres across WalkhamValley, is one of the final links on Drake’s Trail connecting DartmoorNational Parkwith Plymouth. Gem Bridge, with its spectacular views, also forms part of Cycle West’s “Vélodyssée” route, which is a 265 mile (440km) cross-Channel cycle link stretching from Ilfracombe to Redon in Southern Brittany, via Okehampton, Tavistock and Plymouth.