A wet day out in Seaton and Beer, Devon

Following on from our Sidmouth post, day two of our trip to East Devon dawned grey and dismal. We’d known in advance it was going to be a wet one so I’d already decided on a couple of all-weather attractions, Seaton Tramway and Beer Quarry caves.

Seaton tramway

Seaton tramway
Seaton tramway

The Seaton tramway is a narrow gauge tram that runs for 3 miles between Seaton and Colyton. We boarded our bright pink tram in Seaton and were glad that we’d managed to get seats in one of the closed compartments. I felt sorry for a couple who decided to sit in the open part, they looked rather wet and wind blown by the end of the trip. However on a sunny day it must be great to sit up top.

In the drivers seat, Seaton Tramway
In the drivers seat, Seaton Tramway

The start of the journey, past the back of Tesco, isn’t particularly scenic but once it gets away from town the views improve. The tram runs along the River Axe estuary and past two reserves, Seaton Marshes and Colyford Common. The reserves have bird hides and look like they’d be a great place to explore further on a dry day. We saw a couple of little egrets whilst passing plus lots of wildfowl.

View from Seaton tramway
View from Seaton tramway

The journey to Colyton takes about 30 minutes. From the tram terminus it’s a 10 minute walk into the town centre but the rain deterred us. Instead we ate lunch in the Tram Stop cafe and had a look round the gift shop. The trams run every 20 minutes during high season so once we’d finished lunch we only had a short wait for our return trip.

At Colyton station
At Colyton station

The attraction is expensive for a family so despite being advertised as a wet weather option I’d suggest a visit is best saved for a dry day. The explorer ticket allows you to travel all day on the trams if you wish, and you could make a full day of it by spending time in Colyton or stopping for a drink in the pub at Colyford.

The rain came down even heavier once we’d got off the tramway. I’m sure Seaton is a lovely town on a sunny day but on a wet weekend it was pretty grim so we moved swiftly on to Beer Quarry caves.

Beer quarry caves

We escaped the rain by heading underground into Beer quarry caves. After donning our yellow helmets we joined a guided 1 hour tour which took us through the history of the caves from Roman times up until modern day. The caves are man-made as a result of quarrying Beer stone which is used in cathedrals and churches across the country. The tour focuses on the quarrymen who worked in the caves in dark, noisy and dangerous conditions.

Heading down to Beer Quarry caves
Heading down to Beer Quarry caves

Upon entering there is a small museum area which also showpieces a stone window made from Beer stone. After an introduction the guide took us through the caves and pointed out how the Roman part of the cave is distinguished by its arches. Saxon quarrying resulted in squarer arches, whilst the Norman area had been excavated the most as the stone was used for cathedral building.

Inside Beer Quarry caves
Inside Beer Quarry caves

Our guide demonstrated how noisy the caves would have been by banging on the walls with a hard hat to simulate the use of pick axes. The noise reverberated around the cave and when you realise they were doing incredibly manual jobs by candlelight I’m so glad we were born in another era.

In addition to quarrying, the caves have also been used as a place of worship, a smugglers refuge and (my favourite) for growing rhubarb and mushrooms. It’s also home to some bats which were pointed out to us. No flash photography is allowed because of the bats but I just about managed to get one successful photo of them.

Bats in Beer quarry cave
Bats in Beer quarry cave

The guide had lots of interesting stories to tell. There have been a couple of disasters in the cave so this included some ghost tales. The kids weren’t sure whether to believe him, and even I found myself wondering if they were true!

We really enjoyed our tour around the caves, and they’re well worth visiting if your children are of school age. I think younger children wouldn’t get so much out of it and the ground is quite uneven so it’s not suitable for pushchairs.

More info:

  • Seaton tramway is open from April to October, and on some additional dates during the winter. An adult explorer ticket costs £10, tickets for children age 3-15 are £5. Reductions are available if you’re only travelling to Colyford. We’d also received a discount voucher from the Donkey Sanctuary, but I forgot to use it, worth looking out for though.
  • Beer Quarry Caves are open from April to September. A family ticket costs £23.50, alternatively an adult ticket costs £7.50, children aged 5-16 cost £5.50. Children under 5 are free but ensure they’ll be happy to spend an hour on a guided tour. Entrance is by guided tour only, these run every half hour from 10.30am. There are no toilets in the caves, use the ones in the car park before you join the tour. The caves are not wheelchair accessible.

23 thoughts on “A wet day out in Seaton and Beer, Devon”

    1. Thanks Cheryl. I’d like to back and do the tram another day in the sun, must be a very different experience!

  1. Such a shame that the weather turned nasty! I like the sound of exploring the caves and the tour sounds interesting – not sure about the bats though! Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  2. This looks like a fabulous day! I am loving the pink tram! haha! We’re off to Blackpool next week and a tram ride HAS to be done, lol. Thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH x

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