Smugglers tunnels, beaches and coffee – a grey but beautiful afternoon in Shaldon, Devon

Devon is all about being outside. Beaches in the sunshine, turquoise water, boat trips and walks. So it is sometime hard to come up with ideas of what to do when the weather decides to take a turn for the worse.

On a rainy Wednesday we decided to visit the pretty seaside town of Shaldon for an explore. I already knew there was a good coffee shop in the town and decided that if worse comes to worse we could just wait the weather out with a good cuppa and a slice of cake. However, we ended up spending a great few hours wandering around the town, despite the drizzle.

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We parked at the top of the town at the Ness car park. From here it is a short walk to Ness Cove, a lovely quiet beach with beautiful deep red sand that is characteristic of this part of Devon. There are beautiful views across the sea towards Torquay. The beach is really child friendly and quite often its high cliffs give it some protection from winds. The best bit about this beach is that you can only access it via a long, sloping, winding tunnel through the cliffs, known as smugglers tunnel. It’s quite a long tunnel and takes a couple of minutes to walk along, but it is quite wide and well-lit. The first section is just a smooth slope and the final section is 5 or 6 flights of steps. On this occasion we walked but I have taken the pram down there in the past but it is a 2 person job. E loves a good tunnel and so was in his element, shouting loudly to hear the echos  bouncing off the tunnel walls.

After exploring the beach we headed back up towards the car park. Just at the start of the path to the smugglers tunnel there is a cute little souvenir shop which allows you to buy bags of fish food for 30p and you can cross the lane and feed the massive fish in the pond. E found it really funny watching the hungry fish gobble up the food.

From the car park we headed down the road into the town of Shaldon. You get beautiful views across the mouth of the river Teign over to the town of Teignmouth and its pier and beyond towards Devon’s East coast. A great place to do a spot of boat spotting.

You very quickly get to Shaldon Beach which is a lovely stretch of bright red sand that is great for little ones to run around on. Colourful little fishing boats scattered here and there remind you that this is still very much a working fishing village.

We headed to the Clipper Cafe which as you are walking along the road is one of the first buildings you come to on your right as you walk into the town. This is a fantastic little cafe that my lovely friend who lives in Teignmouth, took me to a few years ago and I’m so glad she did. This place is a gem and if I lived near by I would be in here every day.  They offer amazing food and a fab selection of cakes and hot drinks. The cafe is beautifully decorated with gorgeous nautical details throughout but the best thing about this place is the outside seating. Exiting the back of the cafe you find yourself right on the beach with the most wonderful views across the river and out to sea. There are loads of tables and a beautiful stripped awning to protect you from the sun (or in our case drizzle). I could sit there for hours watching the goings on on the river. My chocolate and beetroot cake was divine and E spent a quiet 10 minutes devouring a little ice cream cone.

Fed and watered we decided to have a quick wander around the town before heading back up to the car. Shaldon is a lovely town to walk around, with its rows of pretty ice cream coloured houses, narrow winding streets and beautiful flowers everywhere and every now and then those glimpses across the gorgeous estuary –  you could spend a good few hours just exploring.

We only had a few hours here but if you wanted to make a day of it there is the little Shaldon Zoo (situated next to the smugglers tunnel entrance). Shaldon Botanical Gardens is another attraction I have always meant to visit but have never got around to. Shaldon also has a children’s play park with the most stunning view up the Teign estuary towards Dartmoor. Last but not least you could take the historic shaldon to Teignmouth Ferry to go and explore the town across the river. This is thought to be one of Britains oldest ferrys and would add a great bit of adventure to a day out for both children and adults.

For a little town there really is a lot to do and it is a town we keep coming back to every time we visit Devon. It is a beautiful corner of Devon weather you see it in the sunshine or the rain.

 

 

 

 

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