Heather Baker from Saddles & Paddles tells us her favourite things about Exeter's quayside...

My business sits at the heart of Exeter’s beautiful Quayside and I must say, there can’t be many places in the country to have a better workplace! The Quay is just a five minute stroll from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and yet it feels like you’ve stepped into the French Riviera, with pubs, restaurants, shops and activities in a picturesque waterside setting.

Canoe & Kayak Hire Saddles & Paddles (c) Helen Lisk Photography

My favourite thing about the Quay and Piazza areas, which surround the River Exe, is the relaxed ambience and beautiful environment, helped by being in a traffic-free setting, allowing people to slow their pace and their minds and enjoy the area.

You can’t beat the Quay for gift shopping – within lots of the historic cellars, you’ll find quirky gift shops and local produce from independent traders, from antiques to woodwork, jewellery, metalwork and arts and crafts gifts.

For a break from your shopping, we’re spoilt for choice for cafes, with Mango’s Café and Bar, the Riverside Café and The Coffee Cellar on the Quayside, plus across the bridge on the Piazza, the Quayside Coffee Shop, Lutzy’s and the Ridge Café.

We are also blessed to have a wide range of pubs, bars and restaurants – most famously, the Prospect Inn, which serves local beers and great food, and On The Waterfront, with its famous giant pizzas – both family friendly and benefiting from fantastic outdoor seating to enjoy the views. In the last few years, we’ve seen new and exciting venues opening at the Quay, which includes Samuel Jones Smoke & Ale House, Puerto Lounge Café Bar, Dr Inks Cocktail Bar and Bierkeller.

Bar Venezia on Piazza Terrancina is a unique venue, offering a Mediterranean feel on the waterside, with salsa dancing on a Sunday night!

And I’m obviously biased, but the Quay is a great location for activities too! As well as ourselves, offering bike, canoe and kayak hire, we have the fantastic Quay Climbing Centre on the Piazza, plus watersports experts AS Watersports and the Haven Banks Activity Centre for visiting schools.

Whether you are walking, cycling or paddling, the Quay is the perfect location to start from, with 6 miles of calm canal waters and the Exe Estuary Trail to explore. And if you want a more leisurely visit, why not take a trip on the ferry with Exeter Cruises, which runs to the Double Locks Pub and back on the canal.

It’s a truly fantastic place to work – which is why we’ve seen some exciting new creative groups choose it as their base, like the Exeter Cookery School, The Generator work hub and the Bike Shed Theatre’s new project, The Boat Shed.

With so much to offer, it’s not hard to see why the Quay is such a fantastic place to visit, eat, shop and play at any time of the year. Come and visit us soon!


Heather is the owner of Saddles & Paddles, which offers bike, canoe and kayak hire, plus a fully functioning bike shop, for sales, accessories and repairs.

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Saddles and Paddles
Boating and Canoeing
Saddles  Paddles

Bike and canoe hire from Exeter's historic quayside. Explore the old canal trail. Seven miles of flat, traffic free cycling in beautiful countryside. The canoes are great fun and easy to use for exploring this beautiful waterway.

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