A UK Coastal Trip – Paignton

Shaldon

Situated across the Teign estuary and opposite Teignmouth. Shaldon is an unspoilt village, full of character, with many families still linked to fishing. The town is built on reclaimed land within a retaining wall, built around 1800. Georgian cottages, shops and pubs surround the bowling green which overlooks the water. Close by were farms, orchards, watercress beds and withy beds used for making lobster pots. Shipbuilding and repair yards used to exist along the waterfront. A well-lit smugglers’ tunnel runs through the headland to Ness Cove, a popular sandy beach at the foot of high cliffs, and the open sea.

Babbacombe

Built in 1926, Babbacome Cliff Railway has been shuttling passengers up and down the cliff to and from Oddicombe Beach ever since. It is that or take the steep path which leads down to the shoreline. Beach Road leads down from the centre of Babbacombe to a small car park and the Cary Arms and Spa on a low, rocky headland and boasting its own ’luxury beach huts and suites’.

Torquay

The town’s economy was initially based on fishing and agriculture, but in the early 19th century it began to develop into a fashionable and elegant seaside resort. At first it was frequented by officers and crew of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the ships were at anchor, offshore. Haldon Pier was built in 1867 as a breakwater to protect the old harbour. As the town’s fame spread and it became known for its mild climate, it became popular with Victorian society. Described by Tennyson as ‘the loveliest sea village in England’, Torquay is a town of genteel terraces, manicured gardens and wide promenades, lined with cafés, restaurants, and bars, as well as souvenir shops and boutiques. Water sports and boat excursions are popular summer activities. Its spacious marina, fringed with palms and choked with yachts and cabin cruisers, gives the town a Mediterranean feel and, by the 1920s, along with neighbouring resorts, together they were dubbed ‘The English Riviera’.

Princess Pier, built in 1890, offers beautiful views of the ocean and is the perfect place to stop and watch the constant comings and goings on shore and on the water. Sandy beaches lie to the west of the harbour and shingle coves to the east.

Paignton

Originally Paignton was a small fishing and farming village, noted for grapes, cabbages and cider. In 1837 a new harbour was constructed and in 1859 the arrival of the railway brought crowds of visitors and the town quickly became a favourite tourist destination for the Victorians. Less grand than its neighbour, Paignton has a long sandy beach backed by a wide promenade and lined with brightly-coloured beach huts .

The pier opened in 1879. When it was first built it had a grand pavilion on the seaward end. It was also a stop-off point for paddle steamers travelling between Torquay and Brixham. In 1919 a fire destroyed the pier-head. Major redevelopment to create today’s pier began in 1980.

Goodrington Park

The actual park is a well-maintained area of grass that lines the promenade & beach, with beach huts and low bushes, suitable for family games and picnics. There is a boating lake with white swans for hire and a crazy golf course.

Close by are holiday camps, eateries and a rather sad-looking water park with slides – maybe it’s just the time of year.

Broadsands

Just outside the village, the beach at Broadsands is wide and sandy and gently slopes to the edge of the sea. There is a decent sized car park and a café from where deck chairs and loungers can be hired. The large grassed area behind the rows of brightly coloured, sea-facing beach huts is great for family fun and sand-free picnics.

A UK Coastal Trip – Teignmouth

Beer

What a great name for a village. Fishing boats and tackle are lined up on the shore in a very orderly way. They share the beach with holidaymakers and anglers. The café is great.

Sidmouth

Handsome hotels, many of them Regency and Victorian, and seafront buildings, line the roads and the esplanade. Peaceful gardens & clipped lawns lie at the eastern end.

Budleigh Salterton

This small town is sited where the River Otter reaches the sea. Its broad sweep of pink, pebbled beach is guarded by red sandstone cliffs.

Exmouth

Stylish and spacious, Exmouth has some grand gardens and parks. The cliffs that form the coast along here give way to miles of flat sandy beach.

Dawlish

The spine of this family resort is The Lawn, ornamental gardens through which Dawlish Water flows over a series of small weirs. The main Exeter to Plymouth railway line runs beside the sea on this stretch of coast and trains are frequently battered in winter storms. In Dawlish the sea can be reached by walking under the track. Turning left or right, a wide scenic footpath tops the sea wall beside the railway and above the deep-red shingle/sand beach.

Teignmouth

Like many of its neighbours, stone was shipped from here in the early 19th century. Today ball clay from local quarries is exported and used to make crockery and bathroom fittings. The sea side consists of a long beach of dark red sand backed by a promenade. From the centre, the Grand Pier, opened in 1867, reaches out into Babbacombe Bay.

The River Teign flows out at the southern end of the beach and creates, on the land side, a shelter for pleasure craft and fishing vessels. Working sheds share the water’s edge with smart residential buildings.

The shore shelves steeply here and there can be treacherous currents. A passenger ferry crosses regularly over the estuary to Shaldon.

A UK Coastal Tour – Lyme Regis

Seatown

Smuggling and fishing took place from this private, open shingle beach. Thatched cottages of honey-coloured stone line the river before reaching the holiday park. The Anchor Inn watches.

Charmouth

The beach is famous for its fossils, exposed during centuries of cliff erosion. For this reason, it is a popular resort although fossil-hunters should take care on the shingle/sands.

 

Lyme Regis

This delightful resort town has a long maritime history that covers sea battles, smugglers and sieges. In more modern times, it also hosted some major cricketing and recreational moments arising from the annual tour to the area by Greys Green Cricket Club. Many of these adventures centred on The Cobb, a long stone breakwater, built in 1824 to protect the harbour, where a few, rather forlorn vessels, balance on their keels at low tide.

It, along with the seafront of cafes, holiday lets & private homes in front of the cliff gardens, remains the focal point of the town with visitors enjoying the salty atmosphere of yachts and fishing boats. Lanes and narrow streets, lined with colour-washed houses, climb steeply away from the beach. The cliffs around Lyme Regis constantly crumble and slip into the sea, revealing fossils from 180 million years ago.

Axmouth

This sleepy village was once Roman Britain’s busiest port. Landslips have since choked the mouth of the River Axe and left the village itself a mile inland.

Seaton

This is a sedate resort with a mile-long beach of shingle/pebbles. The 13 trams of the Electric Tramway travel three miles inland, to & from Colyton.

A UK Coastal Trip – West Bay

Overcombe

The village of Overcombe guards the approach to Weymouth, two miles away along the Jurassic Coast. The shingle and sand beach has a different feel with very little development. It is a popular spot with local families as well as kite-surfers and kayakers. As the tide goes out the expanse of sand is exposed. The water is zoned to keep bathers separate from water sport enthusiasts. A long esplanade runs alongside part of the beach, and the South West Coast Path passes over the nearby cliffs. Behind the beach is a large grassy area, great for games & picnics and Loadmoor Nature Reserve is on the other side of the coastal road.

Weymouth

A long, wide, sandy beach is backed by a seafront of small hotels, boarding houses, some dating from Georgian times, and a mass of seaside amusements.

George III began to visit Weymouth for his health in 1789 and established it as a fashionable resort. The town has a long association with the sea dating back to the Middle Ages. In 1310 it was mentioned as a licenced wool port. Cross-channel ferries used to operate from here but these have now ceased. Stone Pier sticks out into the bay. It was built as a breakwater to protect the entrance to the harbour. The harbour side of the pier, and the two smaller ones that stretch out from the main pier, are excellent spots for a bit of fishing by locals & visitors alike.

Portland Bill

Commerce and maritime industries have taken the place of the old naval base. The cliffs around the island are pitted with quarries, many still producing stone once used in the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.

Steps lead down from the heights to small coves of rough stone & rocky beaches lined with fishermen’s huts.

Fortuneswell

Fortuneswell guards the approach to the Isle of Purbeck at the head of Portland Beach Road where Chesil Beach connects the island to the mainland. It occupies the steepest land above sea level. The strategic significance of Portland was first realised by King Henry VIII, who built two castles to protect the approaches. It became a naval base in 1845 with the construction of Portland Harbour’s Breakwaters. Workers were needed and housing was required on the island as a whole and Fortuneswell in particular. A large number of terraces were built across the village area and crammed into any open space.

Chesil Beach

 

The beach is a geological phenomenon made up of billions of pebbles which are now The pebbles on Chesil Beach are graded in size from potato-sized near Portland to pea-sized at Bridport and are made up of mainly flint and chert. It is believed that smugglers landing on the beach at night could judge their position along the coast by the size of the shingle.

Part of the beach rises to a height of 14 metres and this protects a lagoon called The Fleet which forms a nature reserve. This can be reached from either end but there is no pedestrian access along the beach between May and August to prevent the disturbance of breeding birds. Abbotsbury Swannery is on the lagoon, a sanctuary for 600 mute swans on the site of an 11th century monastery.

West Bexington

A single road through the village ends by a steeply shelving shingle beach backed by a a line of quite large, mostly white-washed beach huts and a car park used mostly by anglers.

Burton Bradstock

The village overlooks a fine shingle and sand beach. It is known locally as Hive Beach. From the car park there is a grassy picnic area and a track leading to the beach and eroded cliffs.

West Bay

West Bay is Bridport’s former harbour where ships were built until 1879. The man-made harbour is not a natural feature. It was required to export locally made ropes and nets. It has a long history of being silted up, blocked by shingle and damaged by storms. Today the town has a mixed economy of fishing and tourism, a resort, popular with families and sailors.

A UK Coastal Trip – Swanage

Studland

Studland lies across from Sandbank. A long sandy beach and sand dunes line the bay that runs southwards from the ferry across the entrance to Poole harbour. The beach and the dunes are owned and managed by the National Trust.  A short stretch of beach, just down from the chain link ferry, is reserved as a naturist beach. Behind the dunes is Studland Heath National Nature Reserve, an area of heath, woods, mudflats and open water with two waymarked trails.

The village of Studland is further south, set back a few hundred metres from the coast. Many of the houses are holiday homes, second homes, guest houses or hotels and the village’s population varies depending upon the season.

 

Swanage

Up to the early 19th Century, Swanage was a small fishing port. It developed as a seaside resort with the arrival of the railway. Sheltered within its wide bay, with a sandy beach and colourful public gardens, it is a popular holiday destination. Behind the Town Hall is a tiny lock-up, built in 1802, inscribed ‘For the Prevention of Vice and Immorality by the Friends of Religion and Good Order’.

The first pier was built in 1859/60, primarily for use by the local stone quarrying industry. It included a tramway which ran the length of the pier. A second pier was built in 1895/6 for use by passenger steamers. Today all that remains of the old pier are a line of timber piles.

Worth Matravers

This picturesque village is situated on the cliffs to the west of Swanage. It comprises limestone cottages and farm houses and is built around a pond.

Kimmeridge

Kimmeridge is a picture-perfect village as is its beach, with a natural waterfall and amazing views. However, the bay is only accessible via a £5 toll road, which includes parking.

Lulworth Cove

The small settlement at Lulworth Cove consists of a few buildings geared up for catering for the tens of thousands of visitors it receives each year. As well as visit this attractive cove they also use it as a starting point for the cliff walk, especially westwards to the famous rock formation known as Durdle Door.

Osmington Mills

The hamlet of Osmington Mills sits on the cliff top. A rough path leads down to a wild, rocky beach. The Smugglers Inn services visitors and the camp sites & caravan park.

A UK Coastal Trip – Bournemouth

Boscombe

This is to prove that this really is me, and yes, I have travelled from Berwick-upon-Tweed around the coast to Boscombe (and further) capturing images of every coastal settlements, from the beach or of the beach.

Originally a sparsely inhabited area of heathland, from around 1865 Boscombe developed rapidly from a small village into a seaside resort alongside Bournemouth. The first pier opened in 1889.

The promenade has been transformed from a sleepy 1950s style seafront into the 21st century home to numerous beach activities. Either side of Boscombe Pier, there is everything from sports courts and water sports to bouldering and slack lining. The land train runs along the promenade from the pier to its sister pier in the centre of Bournemouth. In town the Royal Arcade is a beautiful throwback to the Victorian era with a range of shops.

Bournemouth

Until the early 19th century, the area around Bournemouth was also just heathland where cattle grazed. In 1810, Lewis Tregonwell visited the beach with his wife. He purchased land and built a house with cottages for his butler and gardener. In 1836 a seaside resort was created, with villas to hire during the summer. The resort has been a popular destination since Victorian times with classic seaside amusements, grand hotels, glorious public gardens and a long, long promenade bordering a popular sandy beach. The iron pier, built to replace a previous wooden structure, opened in 1880, followed by extensions in 1894 and 1905.

Pine-clad valleys called ‘Chines’, used by smugglers, cut through the cliffs to the shore.

Sandbanks

The beach here is one of the best on the south coast. Sandbanks itself is a small peninsula, which contains some of the most expensive houses and land in the country. Some of the most exclusive houses boast direct access onto the beach.

The Sandbanks Chain Ferry first shuttled across the mouth of Poole harbour to Studland in 1923.

A UK Coastal Trip – Mudeford Quay

Friars Cliff

Along the coast from Barton-on-Sea is Highcliffe Castle. As its name suggests, the mansion and gardens are perched high up on the cliff. There is a clifftop walk through the Steamer Point Nature Reserve and the village of Friars Cliff. The beach is long and sandy with patches of shingle, reached by sloping tarmac paths at either end. It is backed by a promenade featuring some well-maintained beach huts where locals and visitors can while away a sunny hour or two.

Mudeford Quay

Mudeford Quay is the centre of the local fishing industry. Piles of lobster and crab pots, nets and buoys are littered at the end of the large car park. Salmon are still caught in nets using methods that have little changed in the last 200 years. A few old fishermen’s cottages remain along with the original Haven House Inn, the site of a battle between smugglers and the Royal Navy in the 17th century. In the summer a passenger ferry crosses the narrow stretch of water, called the Run, which separates the Quay from the beach at the tip of Hengistbury Head.

Hengistbury Head is a narrow, finger of land comprising two miles of heath, woods, marsh and meadow that juts out into the English Channel. On its northern tip a strip of sand dunes reaches out across the entrance to Chicester Harbour to Mudeford Quay. The spit is home to over 300 privately-owned beach huts, which are amongst the UK’s most expensive. The beach can be reached by the ferry from the quay.  A small mock train used to run from Double Dykes, two defensive ditches that were built in Viking times, but this was stopped in 2018 following an accident with a cyclist.

Southbourne

Further up this long, soft-sandy beach, backed by grassed cliffs, is the charming village of Southbourne with its promenade and, in places, beach huts. It is a bustling and thriving coastal suburb of Bournemouth, with a whole range of eateries, buzzing bars & exciting retail opportunities. Fisherman’s Walk Nature Trail is a stunning walk along the cliff top through a narrow strip of wooded land and a nature trail with woodland flowers and shrubs and plenty of wildlife. There is a lovely walk down the zig zag path to the beach or you can take the cliff lift. Built in 1935, Fisherman’s Walk Cliff Lift operates every day between Easter and October. Two passenger cars move up and down, tied to the opposite ends of a single cable on this funicular railway.