For a day of seaside treats, it’s hard to beat Teignmouth and Shaldon. Separated by the Teign estuary, the two offer a host of delightful activities.

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Teignmouth has the bustling air of a working coastal town (“it’s a drinking town with a fishing problem,” a local joked), while Shaldon is a pastel-pretty unspoilt village. On this circular walk, enjoy a historic ferry crossing, smugglers’ tunnel, tiny zoo, hidden beach, fish and chips, botanic gardens, grand pier, promenade, cream tea, ice cream and beach huts. Phew.

View from Teignmouth across the bay to Shaldon

1. Merry ferry

Head south to pick up the foot ferry at the base of Lifeboat Lane. This nippy craft, strung with bunting flapping in the breeze, zips passengers over to Shaldon for £1.50.

Hop off at Shaldon Beach and walk left along Marine Parade. Just before the Ness Pub, take the footpath on your left to the peak of the Ness Cliff.

2. Cliff view and zoo

Follow the footpath south-west through shady deciduous woodland. Turn right, passing wafts of potent aromas from Shaldon Zoo. This tiny zoo houses rare animals such as golden lion tamarins and Owston’s civets. Pop in to hear keeper talks before continuing down Marine Parade.

3. Hidden Cove

Follow enticing signs for the old Smugglers' Tunnel. This dimly lit and solidly bricked passage takes intrepid explorers down to Ness Cove. Stroll along the shore or take a refreshing dip at this secluded beach sheltered by cliffs, before retracing your steps back to Marine Parade.

The red sandstone, green fringe and blue sea of Ness Cove

4. Fish and chips

Wander uphill to Café ODE for delicious fish and chips, before heading west to reach Torquay Road. Here, turn right and continue along the road for a short stretch; take the first right along Horse Lane to enter Homeyards Botanical Garden.

5. Garden gem

This tranquil sloping garden is a little gem offering enchanting views over the estuary. Meander through the park, full of quaint attractions such as the castle ruin and the witches cave. Exit the gardens and wend your way down through Shaldon’s twisting streets, thatched roofs and Georgian architecture, until you reach Bridge Road.

6. Teignmouth time

Cross Shaldon Bridge and take the footpath on the right as it skirts between the railway track and football club. Continue east until a footbridge crosses the railway tracks and takes you into Teignmouth town centre, buzzing with independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

7. Pier and Promenade

Teignmouth Pier
Amble south along the promenade, taking in the 152-year-old Grand Pier, or watch families playing on the sand and shingle beach, which is interspersed with wooden groynes. Enjoy a cream tea by the sea at the Beachcomber Café, or saunter along the promenade with an ice cream.

8. Harbour Views

Walk north along the estuary back to your starting point at Sea Sports SouthWest. Here you can try your hand at paddleboard yoga – or just unwind with a pint at The Ship Inn or the New Quay Inn, while watching brightly coloured boats bob as shags swoop low over the water.

Relax (or not) with a paddleboard yoga class
Find out more about Teignmouth

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Images: Alamy, Getty

Authors

Maria Hodson is production editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine, alongside Margaret Bartlett. Since moving to Bristol in 2014, Maria has made every effort to escape into nature and loves all things wild and watery, from surfing and swimming to paddle-boarding and kayaking. Her adventure highlight in recent years was sea kayaking around remote St Kilda, off the coast north-west Scotland, in 2016. Most weekends, however, are spent exploring the great outdoors with her small child and doing accessible walks. Favourite family adventures are bird-watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and exploring the Forest of Dean, as well as an annual pilgrimage to see the starling murmuration on the Somerset Levels.

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