Walk - Teignmouth Seafront to Smugglers Lane

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.

Route Description

  1. From the Lookout Station on the seafront, pick up the South West Coast Path and follow it along the sea wall, with the sea on your right.
  2. After about 1/2 mile you will reach Sprey Point.

Spey Point is an outcrop originally formed by the unstable sandstone cliffs between Teignmouth and Dawlish but expanded by Isambard Kingdom Brunel so that he could bring in materials to build the railway line.

On the Point, there is now a little picnic area with a large 'Teignmouth' sign situated here for those passing by train to see as they head into town. This part of the coast once had cottages along it belonging to East Teignmouth villagers in days of old before the railways existed. The cellars of their homes were used as fish stores. 

The railway line here 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, the tubes had to be emptied of air at the pumping stations along the route according to a timetable which was both inefficient and expensive and two, the spray from the sea during stormy weather made it difficult to seal the tubes effectively. Because of these issues, atmospheric trains were used for less than a year, from 1847-1848. 

  1. After Sprey Point carry on to the steps just before the headland at Parson's Tunnel. Go down the steps and through the archway beyond, and follow to the bottom of Smugglers' Lane, where a seasonal cafe can be found. (If you follow this lane steeply uphill to the main road you will be heading onto Holcombe and Dawlish).

The Parson and Clerk rocks you can see off the headland by Parson's Tunnel, are said to represent a real life pair. By trying to take the seat of the Bishop of Exeter for themselves and plundering local taxes they are believed to have fallen in with the Devil and finally fell into the sea and drowned!

  1. Return to Teignmouth sea front following the sea wall and passing Sprey Point again along the way. To extend the walk continue along the sea front passing Teignmouth’s Grand Pier.

This was built between 1865 and 1867 and is over 210 metres long. To the right, the grassy area is part of The Den. 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.

  1. Continuing all the way to The Point, you will pass the lighthouse.

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.

The view upstream from the Point takes in the village of Shaldon which can be reached by a ferry situated near the Lifeboat Station. Also visible is Shaldon Bridge originally opened in 1827 at an overall cost of £26,000. At 1671 feet long and with 34 wooden arches, it was, at that time, the longest wooden bridge in England.

Turn around and make your way back along the seafront to the start of your walk at the Lookout Station.

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