Friday, 1 March 2013

Teignmouth (Shaldon) to Babbacombe (SW Coast Path 27)

Ferry Beach, Shalford

After a long break, we are back on the South West Coast Path and we pick up the route at Shaldon, across the Teign from Teignmouth, the last place we reached. We are staying in Babbacombe and got a taxi to bring us here to start the walk. We were a bit puzzled when the taxi driver was unable to locate the "place where the ferry arrives", which we had specified as our destination. He eventually dropped us in what he believed was its general location. It turns out it stops just off the beach and the arrival and departure point is marked by a flag and a blackboard. We had expected a jetty.

We walk along the beach and looked across to Teignmouth.

The beach gives way to a path above a sea wall and soon you begin to climb through woods towards the top of the Ness. The view through the trees put me in mind, a touch fancifully no doubt, of similar views in the Costa Brava.

A viewing point at the top of the Ness offered further views back over Teignmouth and the coast back towards Dawlish.

From here, the path continued to climb quite steeply towards Bundle Head and briefly touched the road above Smugglers Cove. The coast here was disfigured by a horrific block of flats in white concrete.

We continued to climb, now above Labrador Bay and soon enjoyed a fine view back.

The next sections of the walk involved a whole series of descents and ascents, mostly without clear views of the sea. We were pleased to come on this more open stretch, with the Ore Stone, an isolated rock beyond Long Quarry Point, visible on the horizon. We enjoyed the yellow broom as well.

A bit further on yet another long ascent awaited, with these steps continuing around the bend at the top of what you can see.

We passed the hamlet of Maidencombe and headed for Watcombe, which has an association with the great Victorian railway engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He built his retirement home here, Watcombe House (now Brunel House), but sadly never lived in it.

The next feature of note was a rather fetching rock with a hole, with the jagged coastline leading towards Torquay beyond.

Eventually you are forced inland around a golf course to the edge of St Marychurch, but soon you descend again towards the sea to emerge at the edge of Babbacombe by the funicular railway that connects the town to Oddicombe beach. It is a steep descent.

We departed the coast path here to walk up Babbacombe Downs to return to our hotel, passing the funicular station on the way, its carriage parked for the night. The railway dates back to 1925.

Conditions: cold, grey.

Distance: 6.4 miles. Distance now covered 130.3 miles.

Map: Explorer 110 (Torquay and Dawlish).

Rating: Three stars.


We saw several buzzards being mobbed by crows. There is nothing unusual in this of course, but it seemed at that any individual crow felt it was his duty to mob any passing buzzard. Apparently it only takes one to be a mob.

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