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A charming small resort, situated in a sheltered bay with chalk cliffs an either side


To the west of Seaton you will find Beer, it's smaller next door neighbour. Beer is not named after the drink, but after an old Saxon word meaning "grove". The village has its own sheltered bay, with chalk cliffs on either side. During horrible weather, when other towns' boats couldn't brave the choppy waters, Beer's fishermen were always able to put out to sea.
This combination of good shelter and skilled seamen provided the perfect opportunity for another money-making method - namely, smuggling. The village is a tight 3D maze, with streets and houses on all different levels. There were countless hiding holes for contraband, and the men that handled it.

Coming ashore at Beer
Photo Pengannel
The other local businesses were more legal. One was quarrying. Stone from Beer has a uniform structure that allows it to be very easily shaped - a fact that the Romans first recognised 2000 years ago. Since then it has been used throughout history, by Saxon, Norman and Medieval man. Beer stone is used in dozens of important buildings, from St. Paul's Cathedral to Buckingham Palace. In warmer months you can join guided tours of the quarry caves, and see how the miners did their jobs. Stone was cut into 4 foot cubes using rudimentary tools, then hauled above ground by horses or oxen. Each block weighed 4 tons, and the whole job was done by nothing more than candlelight.
Even today, Beer's fishermen head out most mornings. Just as always, the boats launch straight from the beach. Upon their return, they're winched right up the shingles. A small shop, merely yards from the water, sells the day's catch. In summer you can join the fishermen on one of their trips, and see how it's done. There are motor boats for rent, and several sailing clubs. A regatta in mid-August organises races, fireworks and late night dances.

Fishing Boats at Beer
Photo PhillipC
The hill above Beer is home to the head office and factory of PECO, the UK's largest manufacturer of model railways. They've surrounded their premises with Pecorama, an unusual combination of a museum and garden. Inside, there's a painstakingly detailed model railway exhibition, plus a shop selling practically every component ever made. Outside are the gardens. Each has its own theme, like "sun", "moon" or "rainbow". They're best explored via the Beer Heights Light Railway, a mile-long section of life-size track. The very real steam and diesel trains offer views out across the bay.

Beer Heights Light Railway
Photo sludgegulper
Beer is one of the gateways to the Jurassic Coast, Devon's World Heritage stretch of ancient cliffs, fossil beaches and hidden lagoons. From here, you can walk through 185 million years of geological history.
Visitor Information
Seaton Tourist Information Centre, Seaton Tramway Ticket Office, The Underfleet, Seaton, EX12 2TB, Tel: 01297 21660

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