Walk - Labrador Bay

4.3 miles (7.0 km)

Shaldon Ness - TQ14 0HP Shaldon Ness

Challenging - The route passes through farmland which can be wet and muddy, so good footwear is recommended. 

This high-level walk has a lot of ascent and descent, some of which is steep and can be slippery, but the stunning coastal views in all directions make it worth the effort. Starting at the Ness headland, planted to mark Queen Victoria's coronation, it loops through the RSPB Nature Reserve at Labrador Bay. Look out for the rare cirl bunting or a shy roe deer. 

A good walk in springtime, when the rattling call of the RSPB reserve's cirl buntings can be heard across the fields and the woods are carpeted with bluebells. Look out for peregrines peregrines flying over the cliffs.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Payge Stay Torquay

A beautiful, luxurious seaview Apartment in the exclusive area of Meadfoot, Torquay. Sleeps 2

Lynton House

A welcoming B&B ideally situated on Teignmouth seafront, only yards from the main beach, the picturesque river beach and the main shopping centre.

Longmeadow Farm

Where the coast meets the country. Relaxed camping on a family-run farm with 3 comfortable self catering holiday apartments.Ideal for the Coast Path.

The Blenheim

The Blenheim is an 18th century building sitated on the seafront in Dawlish with 11 ensuite rooms enjoying sea views.

Coastguard Cottage

Small, cosy cottage accommodatioon with all rooms en-suite and with wifi. Close to many amenities. A substantial breakfast is provided.

The Cary Arms Hotel & Spa

The Cary Arms & Spa “Inn on the Beach” exudes charm, style and comfort of a boutique hotel. Seaside English Heritage dining with chic rooms include dog-friendly accommodation.

Sea Light

Relax in a oasis of calm with organic drinks, delicious health-giving food, cream teas & licensed bar with original oil paintings

Aveland House

Close to the Coast Path. All en-suite rooms,Free Wi Fi. See our website www.avelandhouse.co.uk for more details

Garway Lodge Guest House

Enjoy a 4 Star Award-Winning guest house bed & breakfast. Situated in Torquay. Early Breakfasts are available upon request.

The Cleveland Bed and Breakfast

EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE * FREE WIFI * OFF-STREET PARKING The Cleveland is ideally located for access to Torquay and the South West Coast Path

The Millbrook B&B

Excellent en-suite accommodation just 800 metres from Torquay sea front, wi-fi & on-site parking, garden. Guest lounge and Conservatory.

Langstone Cliff Hotel

64 room 3 Star hotel with wide range of facilities in 19 acres overlooking sea and Exe estuary. Perfectly situated as a base for walking the local sections of the South West Coast Path.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

The Strand Cafe

Beachside cafe and bistro serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. A perfect start, break or end to your lovely walk by the sea.

Salty Dog Kiosk

Relax in the sun where smugglers ran contraband off the beach into the night. Great coffee, proper scones & ice creams. 10am-4pm every day.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

English Riviera Bid Company

The English Riviera BID company is the destination marketing organisation for the English Riviera which includes over 1000 tourism businesses. It promotes the England's Seafood Coast brand and coordinates the Seafood FEAST festival

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the beach at Shaldon, pick up the South West Coast Path, heading eastwards along the narrow lane up the hill towards the Ness Headland (be aware of cars). Above the Ness Hotel turn left and follow the path as it climbs up and around the wooded headland taking in a panoramic viewpoint. Continue on around until the path drops down into the top of the car park.

Shaldon is a picturesque village with a number of listed buildings, some of them dating back to the seventeeth century, although the original settlement at Ringmore, upstream, has fifteenth century buildings and a Norman church that was probably built on the site of a wooden Saxon church. Shaldon itself formed as the estuary silted up over the centuries and reclaimed land downstream.

Like the Exe, the Teign estuary was very popular with smugglers during the eighteenth century, when the notorious Jack Rattenbury used it as one of his many drop-off points on the Devon and Dorset coastline. Estuaries were particularly favoured by the 'free traders' because the land-guard was usually based on one shore, with his only means of bridging the water some distance upstream, which took time. The tunnel through the headland to Ness Beach is an old smugglers' tunnel, where goods were carried through to be stored in caves at Teignmouth. 

  1. Bear left here to carry on along the coast above Ness Cove, up the steps and past the pitch-and-putt fields, climbing steeply to come out on the A379.

Down on Labrador Bay Beach, at the foot of the cliffs below, are the remains of a concrete boat, beached and abandoned after the Second World War, when such craft were used in the D-Day Landings in Normandy. The remains of the boat lie among large boulders which have fallen from the breccia cliffs. This rock was formed in the Permian period, some 250 million years ago, when flash flooding carried limestone fragments through a red desert environment, embedding them in the sand which was later compressed to form the breccia, with the angular 'clasts' of limestone still visible in the sandstone (see the Maidencombe Walk).

  1. Turn left along the road for a short distance, and then pick up the Coast Path once more, to walk along the footpath leading off to the left. From here the path plunges up and down around the edge of fields, with a pretty woodland in the middle of this stretch. (Ignore the path to the right at the edge of this wood, unless you want a shortcut).

The land here was purchased by the RSPB in November 2008 to help secure the future of the cirl bunting, a small songbird related to the yellowhammer.  Once a common farmland bird, by 1989 the cirl bunting population had declined to fewer than 120 pairs throughout the whole of Britain – all of them on the South Devon coastline. The greatest threat to their survival was the common practice of intensive farming, and in the last few years the RSPB, in conjunction with the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, has been leading a project working with South Devon farmers to revive traditional farming methods, using grazing animals to control scrub and invasive species and abolishing the use of artificial fertilisers. This encourages the growth of wildflowers, which in turn attract insects, a vital food source for the birds. In addition, spring barley is planted and the stubble left on the ground until the following spring to provide winter food.

As a result of these strategies the cirl bunting population has made a dramatic recovery, and by 2009 already there were more than 850 pairs breeding here. In spring the cirl buntings become territorial and the males' distinctive rattling call can often be heard frequently across the reserve. By summer they are well into their breeding season, and will be quieter and harder to see as they forage for crickets and grasshoppers in the grass. Autumn is a better time to see them, when they form flocks, often perching in the hedge around the car park. Look out, too, for skylarks, chaffinches and yellowhammers, as well as buzzards and peregrines hunting overhead.

  1. After about a mile, you come to a footpath leading off to your right. Turn uphill on this path and follow it a little way, until you come to another path off to your right, just before the trees.

In the 1950s some of the land here belonged to Stan Prosser, who lived in a cottage at the top of the cliffs. He ran a tearoom which he called 'Smugglers' Cove', also running a small but profitable business selling 'lucky wishing well water' from a well at the foot of the cliffs. He claimed that Bob Hope was one of his lucky water customers! 

  1. Turn onto this path and follow it uphill through fields, heading back up towards the A379.
  2. Turn right at the top and walk about 300 yards through the field, parallel to the road. Here the footpath drops to the right and travels through the field below the Labrador Bay car park.
  3. Ignoring the car park, carry on along the footpath to head back up to the road at 3. Turn right on the road and walk back to join the Coast Path on the hillside below, to retrace your steps past the golf course, back to the Ness and Shaldon.

Parking

Shaldon Ness Car Park

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