Visit Ottery St Mary: Places to stay, things to do

Ottery St Mary is world renowned for its Guy Fawkes celebrations, but this town doesn't just come alive once a year, as Nick Peers discovers

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Why go there?
Ottery St Mary lies in the beautiful Otter Valley on the eastern fringes of Devon, 11 miles from Exeter and just six miles from the coast. There’s plenty to see and do here most weekends, but this week sees the town celebrate Bonfire Night with its annual display of flaming tar barrels being carried through the streets on Thursday, culminating in a huge bonfire.
The town itself will appeal to historians – it has a rich heritage going back to Edward the Confessor’s time, and the church of St Mary has to be seen to be believed – it’s basically Exeter Cathedral in miniature. The best way to see the town’s other attractions is to take in one of the many circular walks that are found near the town centre.
The town is also blessed by its location, with a number of reserves and stunning walks within striking distance – and that’s before you venture to the coast, now a World Heritage Site. Devon Wildlife Trust has a couple of reserves close by, including Venn Ottery, while the RSPB’s Aylesbeare Common reserve  is also a short drive away. If you’re looking for a family day out, then check out Escot Park too.
 
Where to stay
The Tumbling Weir’s tranquil setting in 10 acres of garden between the River Otter and its mill stream belies the fact you’re just five minute’s walk from the centre of town. 10 bedrooms are available, with prices starting from £50 (single occupancy) or £70 (double occupancy) per night, including breakfast.
 
Where to eat
The Stafford House prides itself on cooking to order using locally sourced produce, including free-range meat, poultry and fish, which means its menu varies according to what’s available. You can eat in the restaurant or in the cellar bar (don’t forget to wash it down with a pint of the local Otter ale) – the terrace may also be available for more hardy souls.
 
Tell us a local secret
St Mary’s church houses one of Britain’s oldest surviving mechanical clocks: the Astronomical clock is thought to date to the mid 14th Century, and adheres to the ancient Ptolemaic cosmological theory that placed the earth at the centre of the universe.
 
Picture: Copyright Rob Purvis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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