The past rediscovered: The Weston Plats
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Between Branscombe and Sidmouth lie the Weston Plats. In the 19th century the village was well known for these clifftop plots. Thanks to the unique micro-climate on these cliffs, local residents were able to produce early crops of flowers, vegetables and strawberries. Most successful were the Branscombe potatoes which rivalled those from Jersey.
Cliff farming was originally developed to keep the local fisherman occupied within sight of the water as fishing from Branscombe beach can be difficult due to it's steep and unsheltered nature. Seaweed was used as a fertiliser and farmers relied on donkeys to carry goods. Originally used to feed larger families, the plats became very successful and the crops were then sold for cash. As tourism developed in Devon so the Weston Plats fell into decline, the plots were finally abandoned in the 1960s and quickly forgotten.
Acquired by the National Trust 40 years ago, the Weston Plats have only been recently opened to the public. The land has been cleared away and old storage sheds have been rebuilt from the remains of their predecessors. The land is part of the South West Coast Path and can also be accessed from Dunscombe valley in association with East Devon Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty (EDAONB). The Weston Plats now offers a unique glimpse into the forgotten past of the Devon countryside for the first time in 40 years.