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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.