Walk - Explore Shaldon from Teignmouth NCI
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.
This walk starts from the mapboard at the NCI's Lookout on the Esplanade at the bottom of Eastcliff.
- Leave the NCI's Lookout, walking towards the Pier along the Esplanade.
The NCI Station in Teignmouth was manned by HM Coastguard until it closed in the early '90s. In 2003, John Langford, Station Manager of Exmouth NCI, was walking along Teignmouth Seafront with his family and saw the redundant Coastguard Lookout and thought it would be a good position for another NCI Station. After talks with Teignbridge Council, Ian Palmer of Eastcliff Cafe, very kindly relinquished his lease. John Langford worked tirelessly to obtain funds and in March 2004 Teignmouth NCI was formed with just 9 volunteers. After much restorative work, the first service watch took place on the 1st August 2004. By 2012 it was clear that there was not a lot of life left in the old lookout, a major fund raising drive took place and the new Lookout was opened in July 2015.
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.
Pass the pier on your left with the Den on your right.
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.
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.
At the end of the promenade cross the car park and pass beyond the Lifeboat Station down Lifeboat Lane to the Ferry.
The RNLI took responsibility for the Teignmouth 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.
- Cross to Shaldon on the ferry.
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 the Ferry website 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.
Upstream 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.
- Reaching Shaldon near the Ferry Inn, turn left down Marine Parade.
Marine Parade 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.
- Follow the road past the Ness Hotel and branch left away from the car park. Take the path past a gift shop and the toilets to the Smuggler’s Tunnel. Make your way down the tunnel coming out on Ness Cove.
The Tunnel was built in the 1860s to give access to the private Ness beach by the 8th Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who owned a great deal of the village. The Smuggler’s Tunnel was never used for smuggling according to the present Lord Clifford! It was used to transport Oddicombe limestone to the kiln that can still be seen at the entrance to the tunnel. The tunnel was blocked up during World War Two and a new section needed to be built when it was reopened. The old blocked entrance can be seen from the beach. Dogs are allowed on the Ness Beach all year round.
Retrace your steps back up the tunnel.
The Shaldon Wildlife Trust have created Shaldon Little Zoo near the tunnel. It is known for its protection of many endangered species of small animals. It is wheelchair friendly and covers an acre of land.
- Climb up Ness Drive to the main Torquay - Teignmouth road. Turn right and taking great care ( this is a VERY BUSY road in summer) walk 100m before turning down through the traffic barriers into Horse Lane.
- Follow Horse Lane down to its junction with Broadlands where a flight of steps on your left leads into the Botanical Gardens.
The Botanical Gardens were created in the early 20th century by the Homeyard family and consist of a terraced arboretum with a level walk and a folly known as Shaldon Castle. First opened to the public in 1955, the gardens are open all year round. Mr Homeyard was an inventor of patent medicine. His gravestone has amongst the inscription the word “Aturfiuqil”- a discrete backwards advertisement for his medicine. Naturally, adverts were banned in the churchyard.
Retrace your way down the steps and continue on Horse Lane emerging on Marine Parade near the ferry.
Here you have the option of returning on the ferry and retracing your steps along the promenade back to the NCI Lookout or spending some time exploring Shaldon village.
Turn down any alley off the Strand and you will find the oldest and quaintest of cottages situated in such places as Dagmar Street, Sunny Patch and Middle Street before crossing Fore Street and wandering around Albion Street, The Green and Riverside. Dagmar Street was named after a Scandinavian builder who lived and worked in the village. Sunny Patch was the site of 3 demolished cottages whose land was donated to the village by Mr Allman as a playground. Note the missing house numbers. Mr Allman lived on The Green and didn’t want noisy children playing outside his house. The Green, itself, was given to the village by Lord Clifford so that fishermen could dry their nets. Riverside was originally built to keep high waters away from the lower lying areas of the village. However, in 2011, a £8.5 million flood defence wall, complete with flood gates, was built, much to the delight of residents.
When you have finished exploring Shaldon, return to the ferry crossing and make your way back into Teignmouth to NCI's Lookout.
Plenty of places in both Teignmouth and Shaldon.