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A Short Walk from Teignmouth

October 15, 2010

From a walker’s point of view, the Teignbridge area of south Devon is one of the poorest in terms of rambles and scenery; eclipsed by the wonderful walking country of Dartmoor, east Devon, and the South Hams. But there are walks to do, not least the Teignmouth and Dawlish Way, 14 miles across interesting heathland and pastoral landscape, and the Templer Way, which follows the line of the Haytor Granite Tramway and Stover Canal. But if time is short, or you just fancy an evening stroll, you might try this gentle ramble of four miles – a particularly good route for the beginner rambler.

The walk starts from Teignmouth Pier. Walk eastwards along the sea wall, alongside the railway line, for a mile, passing on the way, Spray Point, where many years ago there was a refreshment hut, and arriving at last at the red sandstone cliffs of the Parson and Clerk Rocks. The sea has worn away both since I first knew them. The old tale tells that the parson and his clerk were misguided by the devil in disguise at this point, caught by the sea and turned to stone. There is a good account in the late Captain Coxhead’s book Legends of Devon, though you might have to raid the library or second-hand bookshops to find a copy.

Parson and Clerk Rocks, Teignmouth

 

The sea wall walk ends at this point. Go down the steps and under the railway line and up the lane beyond. This is Smugglers Lane. It probably was used by the “gentlemen of the night”, for this stretch of coastline was often frequented by famous Devon smugglers, such as Jack Rattenbury of Beer and “Resurrection” Bob Elliott of Brixham. The construction of the railway by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, put an end to landings in this area, though smuggling in Teignmouth continued until at least the 1960s!

Continue up the lane until a cross roads is reached. Cross (very carefully!) the very busy Teignmouth to Dawlish main road, and take the lane opposite into the village of Holcombe. Despite much new building, the old heart of the village, with some very attractive thatched cottages, is a real gem.

At the next road junction turn right, uphill into the village proper. The attractive little church has a lovely garden you can sit in and a memorial to a winner of the Victoria Cross. Continue uphill to the next junction, where you turn left in front of the Castle Inn (good for meals and drinks). Walk along the road now for a quarter mile, through a new housing estate. A hundred yards after the road narrows and becomes a country lane, look for and take a green lane heading uphill on your left. Keep straight on, ignoring side paths to left and right.

Follow this lane for nearly a mile. After an initial climb, it heads downhill to a very shallow ford and then takes a steep uphill. This seems very peaceful countryside, given that it is only a mile or so, in each direction from two very busy seaside resorts. There are good views across the coast and, as you climb again, across to east Devon.

At the top of the hill, the track becomes tarmaced, levels out, and then descends, to reach the Teignmouth-Dawlish Road again at a spot called Oakhill Crossroads. Notice the old toll house on your right at the junction.

Carefully cross the often busy road, and head down the narrow lane almost opposite. Ignore the first enclosed right of way to your right and keep on the track until you reach a second footpath to the right (over a stile). Follow the obvious path downhill. On a clear day there are superb views over Teignmouth and along the coast to Babbacombe and beyond. At the foot of the field, cross a further stile and keep to the path as it veers to the right. At the next junction, turn left down a wider track.

Continue down this track, ignoring the footpath to the right by an iron gate. Go a dozen yards further down, where a gap in the hedge leads into the charming parkland of Cliffden, gifted to the people of Teignmouth by Doctor  and Mrs Mules. Immediately you are in the park turn left and follow the path downhill. Once again there are splendid views as you go. At the foot of the park, take the exit to your left, leading to a bridge over the railway line. Cross this, keep going downhill, and then follow the promenade back to Teignmouth Pier and the end of the walk.

If you would like to try other walks in this area, then do contact the Teignmouth and Dawlish group of the Ramblers. Their website is: www.teignramblers.org. The group organises two walks in Devon every week and a great many social events.

 

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