Ottery St Mary, Devon
‘Ottery’ as they call it is rather a sweet little town, largely uncommercial so the shops, pubs and cafes are nearly all independently run and there’s barely any sign of big names chains anywhere, other than a Sainsbury’s supermarket. Go and have a look round the church; it was modelled on Exeter cathedral and is amazing, being both large and very ornate for such a small town. It's even got a 14th century anatomical clock and a minstrels gallery, and get this - the oldest weathercock in possibly the whole of Europe.
There's a very nice walk from Ottery that follows the banks of the River Otter (now you know where the town gets its name) to the Tumbling Weir and if you fancy going a bit further, carry on to Tipton St John where you can stop for a pub lunch before strolling back; all very good, especially when the sun is out, and you might be fortunate enough to spot a kingfisher.
If you’re hungry whilst you’re in Ottery St Mary... well, Rusty Pig definitely, and they say the cafe at Cold Harbour Farm Shop is good. The little tea shop – Seasons Tea Rooms is somewhat old-fashioned but if you take it for what it is you can get a decent bite to eat there; don’t worry about the net curtains, it’s all part of the charm.
Ottery has two big claims to fame; one is that the romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born here in 1772, the other is the famous Tar Barrels event held on November 5th each year; when after dark, people run through the streets with lighted tar barrels on their shoulders. What some might think equally bizarre is the annual Pixie Day held on the nearest Saturday to Midsummer’s Eve, when children parade through the town dressed as the little folk. At least that has its roots in folklore; Tar Barrels, no one knows for sure.
All information correct at the time of writing