Walk - Riviera Line - Dawlish Station - Dawlish Town Trail
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- This walk starts from Dawlish Railway Station.
Dawlish is a product of the Victorian era and the coming of the railway. Before the building of the railway there was no sea wall. The town was often flooded, notably in 1810 and 1823. The railway, opened in 1846, was the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It ran between the land and the sea behind a specifically constructed sea wall. For its first two years it employed the Atmospheric system before being converted to conventional steam trains. The Great Western Railway took it over in 1876.
Coming out of the railway station turn left into Richmond Place. Continue past the railway viaduct. Cross the A379 at the pedestrian crossing into Tuck’s Plot. Stay on the right hand side of The Brook, before crossing carefully over the A379 again.
Tuck’s Plot is named after a gentleman who grazed donkeys here in the 1850’s. The Brook is often known as Dawlish Water and is famous for its black swans, first introduced from Australia in 1906. Dawlish’s name appeared in a Saxon charter of 1044 as “Dolfiisc” meaning Black Water. This was a reference to the marshes that once existed where The Lawn is now located. The bridge crossing the water is the Jubilee Bridge built in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
Continue into The Lawn. Follow the Brook as far as the path will allow you before turning left into Brunswick Place.
The Shaftesbury Theatre on your left was built in 1882 by a local resident for “the moral and social improvement of the inhabitants.” Owned by the local repertory company, they stage plays here throughout the year.
- Stay on the right hand side of the road. Cross Barton Hill and continue alongside the Brook past the car park into Manor Gardens.
Manor Gardens straddles both sides of the Brook. Manor House, now the offices of the Town Council, was built in 1812 at, then, the extreme edge of the old town. It remained a private residence until it was bought by Dawlish Urban District Council in 1946.
Keep on the path beside the Brook until it turns away to the left.
The path leads up a slope for about 15 metres before turning right towards the church over a brick bridge along Overbrook. Pass by the Girl Guide HQ and come out onto Barton Crescent. Cross the road turning left on Church Street towards St Gregory’s Church.
- Turn right into Newhay Close.
The church of St Gregory the Great is worth a visit. In the far corner of the churchyard is a large mausoleum dedicated to the Hoare family of Luscombe. Charles Hoare employed John Nash and John Veitch to build Luscombe Castle and design the grounds. The house, about a mile due west of the church, was completed in 1804. Charles gave his name to the private bankers C Hoare & Co who were originally founded in 1672 moving to their present site in Fleet Street in 1690. Included amongst the inscriptions in the burial plot is one Nora Lilian Augusta Awdry, wife of the cousin of the Rev. W Awdry, author of the Thomas the Tank Engine books.
Continue along the path through the popular open space of Newhay crossing Brown’s Brook until you reach Aller Hill.
- Turn right here, signposted Dawlish. There is no pavement here for about 100 metres but the road is quiet.
- Cross the bridge over the brook again before turning into Weech Road signposted to Dawlish town Centre.
Stonelands on the left was the dower house of the Hoare Family.
Cross the road at any point before reaching Weech Close. Continue along Weech Road which changes into Old Town Street.
- Take the right hand fork into Regent Street. This leads into King Street.
You are now in the midst of Dawlish Old Town with its old houses and attractive streets. The village probably grew from early Celtic origins being sited for protection from attack. There was shelter on three sides with the sea on the fourth side! Bishop Leofric gave the Manor of Dawlish to Exeter Cathedral in 1072. It remained with the church until 1807.
- Passing Dawlish Baptist Church, turn right into Queen Street.
- At the bottom of the road turn left into the Strand.
The Strand, originally known as Pleasant Row, was built in 1803 being then made up almost entirely of boarding houses. Many have now been transformed into modern shops.
Either continue along the Strand to the sea front and Dawlish station or turn into The Lawn and make your way along the paths back to the sea front.