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Exmouth Beach

Exmouth is said to be the oldest holiday resort in Devon, becoming established in the 1700’s. When the wealthy would come to recuperate in the ‘medicinal salt waters’, which was then fashionable. With the coming of the railway to Exmouth in 1861, mass tourism also arrived. Exmouth then grew into the town as we know it today.
Exmouth has 2 miles of sandy beach. The River Exe runs eastwards for much of the beach, before exiting through the sandbanks out to sea. At the Dawlish Warren end of the beach, the river/sea can have a very strong current flowing.
From my own perspective, I prefer the quieter Orcombe Point end of the beach. When it’s low tide I also like to walk around Orcombe Point and along the beach that joins to Sandy Bay.

Several of these sketches are from a period when the only way to get my baby son to have an afternoon nap, was to put him in the car and drive. Nothing else worked very well. So I would give him his lunch, make some sandwiches for myself and drive off somewhere. In this case to Exmouth beach.

The featured sketch above is:

An evenings walk

Watercolour ~ A4’ish

Materials Used

Most of these sketches were drawn or painted in a Daler Rowney, Red & Yellow cartridge pad. Often sketched out quickly first with a 6B pencil, before adding watercolour or pen. I use my trusty Winsor & Newton, watercolour field paint box, with two round brushes, sable no.1 & no.6. The pens used are a waterproof fineliner & black brush pen. There is also one sketch here using willow charcoal.

Watercolour and pen sketch of people enjoying themselves on Exmouth Beach.

Flocking to the Sea

March 5th, Watercolour & Pen ~ A5
Low tide at Exmouth, the sun shimmering on the sea. Lots of people out & about, making the most of the sun.

Pen sketch of Kite Surfers at Exmouth


March 10th, Pen ~ A5
Quick sketch of two kitesurfers who arrived to take advantage of the wind blowing across Exmouth Beach.

Watercolour sketch, looking west along Exmouth beach.

West along Exmouth beach

March 12th, Watercolour ~ A5
It’s good for my soul to be on Exmouth beach. Looking across the estuary towards Dawlish Warren.
The day was mixed, being sometimes overcast, then bright sun. Warmer than it has been of late, but fewer people about, with scudding clouds overhead.

Watercolour & pen sketch, 'Lady in the Red Hat' walking along Exmouth beach.

Lady in the Red Hat

April 7th, Watercolour & Pen ~ A5
Lovely sunny morning, so we headed over to Exmouth Beach. The tide was in, forcing people to walk closer to the sea wall. After sketching we were beachcombing and making pictures with shells. With a little paddling with our wellies on. A very pleasant way to spend a morning, heading home for lunch now.

Watercolour sketch looking out to Dawlish Warren

Looking across to Dawlish Warren

May 6th, Watercolour ~ A5
Parked at the west end of Exmouth seafront – I’ve not tried parking here before with the sleeping babe in the back of the car. You get a great view of the channel mouth between Exmouth and Dawlish Warren.
There are one or two fishing boats and yachts navigating the channel. It’s a sunny, showery day with a brisk wind.

Watercolour sketch, 'Across from Orcombe Point, Exmouth'

Across from Orcombe Point

May 21st, Watercolour ~ A5
A lovely sunny afternoon.
Not too many people about, as it’s low tide we walk over to Orcombe Point and set up our ‘base camp’.
From which the ‘little fella’s’ exploring can set forth. We found a Velvet Swimming Crab, which I hadn’t seen before, so he was very interested in that.

Watercolour sketch of a Family's Day Out , sitting on the beach.

Family Day Out

June 29th, Watercolour ~ A5
After so many hot days, today is the first overcast day we’ve had, with a few light showers thrown in too. We are parked at the east end of Exmouth Beach. The first thing I noticed was that bright green seaweed! A few families on holiday are out making the ‘most’ of the weather in true ‘British Seaside Spirit!’

Watercolour sketch, making Castles & Paddling

Sand Castles & Paddling

July 23rd, Watercolour ~ A5
Warm summers day down at Exmouth Beach, just right today not baking hot. A warm breeze and some cloud cover comes and goes. Hazy off in the distance. Lots of people enjoying the beach and sun. As the tide comes in a small congregation of people always seem to settle on the last of the rocks before they disappear. Must be part of human nature.

Watercolour sketch, a cleft in the rocks with seaweed, 'Chy Bucca.'

Chy Bucca

July 28th, Watercolour ~ A5
These are two Cornish words, meaning: ‘the house of the small sea people’. The Bucca are the sea version of Piskies. They have pebble-like heads and lots of seaweedy hair – apparently. Also, get on the wrong side of them and they’ll bring bad luck to you and your boat! This little cleft covered in seaweed seems like a good place for the Bucca to live, to me.
It’s a bright warm summer day on Exmouth beach the ‘little fella’ and I am exploring around Orcombe Point. We are digging holes and filling them with water in this little, sandy cleft in the red rocks. However, at the moment the red rocks are covered in their summer bright green seaweed! I do like this part of the beach as it is quieter, (but you can get cut off at high tide). We are just about to have a snack of bananas & biscuits, with a hot sun, just coming out.

Watercolour sketch, Day at the beach, Exmouth

Day at the beach

August 29th, Watercolour ~ A5
Bank Holiday Monday and we’re here with our windbreak and packed lunch. A breezy day, with the wind coming onshore. In order to still see the view, we didn’t totally surround ourselves with the windbreak. When the sun’s out its nice & warm, but a bit chilly otherwise. It’s low tide so we popped round Orcombe Point to be out of the ‘honey pot’ of the main beach.
This sketch shows the ‘little fella’ running back up to me, to tell me about the large shrimps & small fish that he has caught in his bucket.

Pen sketch of Exmouth Dunes

Exmouth Sand Dunes

September 7th, Pen ~ A5
A blustery day down at Exmouth, with a big squall blowing through. Parked opposite the sand dunes with the slightly incongruous lamp post – looks fine though when you see it with the rest of the seafront. I needed to get some reference for a painting of sand dunes & their plants. There is a wealth of flora and fauna here. Particularly in the ground over the road from the beach – the ‘wee man’ enjoyed poking about looking at the wildlife.
These dunes are no longer here, being blown away in a storm. Which is a great shame.

Watercolour sketch of a fishing boat heading for Exe Haven


September 10th, Watercolour ~ A5
Now all the tourists have gone I can park back on Exmouth’s seafront. Overcast, windy day today and not many people about. A little boat makes its way through the sand bars and cross currents, heading for the river haven, on an ebbing tide.

Charcoal sketch - a Groin on Exmouth beach.

Groyne III

October 6th, Charcoal ~ A4
Sitting on the end of the groynes sketching in Charcoal at Orcombe Point. I do like their architectural look and feel.
An afternoon spent down at Exmouth beach, the sun was warm with the tide slipping out.
There were lots of other people making the most of this good weather. The sea has scoured away some of the sand. Leaving a long pool, midway up the beach, filled with mussel shells and other flotsam.
We built sandcastles, paddled and caught crabs off the rocks. The only mishap was when the ‘little fella’ slipped over on the seaweed and landed on his bottom in a small rock pool. However, a change of clothes later and all was fine again.

Pen sketch, Exmouth Beach Horse Riders

Beach Riders

October 26th, Pen ~ A5
Horse riders walking through the low tide surf. Looked great fun.
It’s a lovely sunny mid-October day! And after my blood test in the morning the ‘little fella’ and I set off for Exmouth Beach. With a hastily put together picnic.
We had to set up ‘camp’ on the beach with our tent, even though it wasn’t that windy and there were plenty of flat stones to sit on. A great day was had and we headed back up the cliffs with one drying pair of trousers on Daddy’s rucksack and a trouserless boy still hunting dinosaurs!

Triassic Rocks

Orcombe Point is the western end of the ‘Jurassic Coast‘ and also has the oldest rocks of the Triassic Period (250 million years ago.) This is the start of the Unesco World Heritage Site from Exmouth to Dorset.
The cliffs here are made up of layers of different sedimentary rocks. At the bottom of the cliffs, you can see the cross-bedded sandstone formed in a river current. However, towards the top of the cliff, it was a quieter water flow that was laying down layers of silt and mud. The cliffs are that distinctive Devon Red colour and show that when the sandstone was laid down in the Triassic Period that this was a desert environment.
Fossils here are rare and difficult to find. However, there are plant fossils to be found and remains of amphibians like the Rhynchosaur, that I sketched at the RAMM.


Watercolour and pen sketch, 'Last light at Exmouth.'

Last Light on Exmouth Beach

December 23rd, Watercolour ~ A4
This sketch is looking west along the beach from Orcombe Point, one of my favourite local views. A quick general sketch in pen and a loose wet wash. I followed this a bit later when it was dry with a further wash darkening up areas, before using a brush pen to put in the figures and a few last marks. With the sun going down and the tide rushing in I needed to be quick. Mrs W and R splashing in the surf in their wellies, trying to keep warm in the wind (trying to keep my hands warm too!!). R got wet socks so we retreated up the beach to make sandcastles.

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