Walk - Teignmouth Seafront
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Park in Eastcliffe Car Park.
- Leave by the seaward entrance furthest away from the main road. Turn right over the railway bridge.
- At the bottom of the incline turn left then immediately right onto the promenade.
Teignmouth’s history goes back to Saxon times. In 1044 the town was two separate villages. It was not until the early 1800s that Teignmouth developed as a port associated with the Newfoundland Cod industry and then as a holiday resort after the coming of the South Devon railway in 1846. The sheltered harbour faces upriver, and had a quay built in the 1830s. From here Dartmoor granite was shipped out to build the old London Bridge. Teignmouth’s famous inhabitants include John Keats who wrote his poem Endymion with its famous opening line “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” whilst living in the town. In 1690 Teignmouth is said to have been the last place in England to be invaded by a foreign power when some of the French fleet anchored in Torbay attacked the town burning down over 200 houses and 10 ships and plundered their goods. In the Second World War, Teignmouth was bombed 21 times causing 79 deaths and over 2,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. Today the town remains a functioning harbour, sitting comfortably as a town for tourists as well as trade.
Teignmouth’s Grand Pier was built between 1865 and 1867 and is over 210 metres long. Situated in the middle of the sea front, it offers you all the traditional attractions and entertainment of the Great British spirit of the seaside.
- Pass or detour onto the pier. Entrance is free.
Den Crescent and its central Assembly Rooms were laid out in 1826 by Andrew Patey of Exeter. They survive relatively unchanged today. In the 19th century the Assembly Rooms were the hub of the town's social life with Franz Liszt, playing there in 1840. Since then it has been a gentlemen’s club, a cinema and has now been converted into flats.
Follow the promenade all the way to the lighthouse.
The Seafront War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated in 1921 at a cost of £250 raised by public subscription. The lighthouse was built in 1845 at a cost of £200. It is 37 feet high and is visible for 6 miles. In front of the Lynton Hotel in Powderham Terrace is a second light mounted on a pole. Larger incoming vessels must line up this light with that coming from the lighthouse - only then is it safe to make the turn into the mouth of the river.
- At the end of the car park there are excellent views of Shaldon and the river all the way to the bridge.
Directly opposite can be seen Marine Parade. This road has many houses built by the Newfoundland fishing company for its workers and families. Each house was allotted a portion of the beach on which to store nets and boats. These exist these days in the form of private gardens.
Upstream to your right can be seen Shaldon Bridge. This was originally opened in 1827 at an overall cost of £26,000. At 1671 feet long and with 34 wooden arches. At that time it was the longest wooden bridge in England. There was a swing bridge at the Teignmouth end to allow sailing ships up the estuary and toll houses at each end. The Teignmouth toll house can still be seen. In 1838 the centre arches collapsed having been eaten by shipworm. After rebuilding, the wooden structure collapsed again in 1893. Between 1927 and 1931 the bridge was completely rebuilt using mostly steel and concrete. Tolls were abolished in 1948. After further structural work at the turn of this century, residents heard the bridge whistling in certain wind conditions.
- If you wish to cross the river to Shaldon the ferry is to found across the car park at the end of the road opposite the RNLI Lifeboat Station.
There was a lifeboat stationed in Teignmouth from 1851 to 1940. The RNLI took responsibility for the Lifeboat in 1854. In 1862 the Lifeboat Boathouse was built at a cost of £223. 3s 0d on The Den, with doors facing The Ness. The following year it was rebuilt with its doors now facing the harbour! In 1864 a wooden-hulled, ten-oared lifeboat, called the China was brought into service. Its costs were defrayed by money donated by the staff of Gilman and Company who traded in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In 1990 the RNLI reopened Teignmouth as an inshore lifeboat station. The old boathouse had been used as a café for a few years but was available for conversion back into the lifeboat station. This was completed in 1991.
The Ferry runs all year round except on Christmas and New Year ’s Day. All tickets are single. Adults and children must pay but dogs and bikes go free. Ferries leave on demand every 10-15 minutes from 8am to 6pm in summer. Please check www.teignmouthshaldonferry.co.uk for further information. A passenger ferry has been in existence since at least the 13th century, when the yearly revenue was 6s8d and the crossing took up to half an hour. The black and white gunport design was added after the Napoleonic Wars to make them appear as fearsome Men’o’War. It has remained unaltered for over 300 years.
Retrace your steps along the promenade to where the walk joined the promenade.
If you wish to extend the walk, continue along the promenade towards Dawlish.
The surface will change. BEWARE, this surface can be very slippery during and after wet weather. There is a drop of 5 metres to the beach and sea with no barriers.
Teignmouth Railway station opened in 1846. The railway line is part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Penzance-Paddington line. Brunel was appointed as the engineer to the South Devon Railway in 1843, and decided to use the innovative atmospheric railway system to power the trains. This involved running pipes along the rails and creating a vacuum in them to propel the train by means of a piston from the train running through the tube via a sealable slot. The system encountered two problems: one was due to the fact that the railway line was not connected to the telegraph system, and so the tubes had to be emptied of air at the pumping stations along the route according to a timetable, whether the train was on time or not, which was both inefficient and expensive. The other problem was the spray from the sea during stormy weather, which made it difficult to seal the tubes effectively. Because of these issues, atmospheric trains were used for less than a year, from 1847-1848.
- Pass the Teignmouth Sign and then turn right here around Sprey Point before heading back to Teignmouth.
Sprey Point was created by Brunel in the mid 1840s to enable materials to be brought directly by boat to the construction site of the South Devon Railway.
There are a variety of restaurants and cafes in the immediate vicinity of this walk such as the Salty Dog kiosk at the seaward end of Smugglers Lane.