Walk with Keith Perry: Stroll around pretty coastal village that has retained its charm and character

Torbay Weekly

Sheltered by the rocky outcrop of the Ness headland at the mouth of the Teign estuary, Shaldon has managed to retain much of the charm and character of its seafaring origins.

Tightly packed fishermen’s cottages along narrow lanes - and the fact that it lies within a conservation area - have enable  the village to avoid the over-development that has blighted many of its larger South Devon neighbours.

Shaldon developed in the 17th century through the Newfoundland fisheries and was originally home to fishermen, sailors and traders.

But within a century it began to evolve as a fashionable resort and retirement home for the wealthy, a transformation accelerated in the 19th century by the building of the bridge and the arrival of the railway across the estuary.

The only way to explore the village is on foot and a good starting point is to take the passenger ferry from Teignmouth.

The journey from the slipway at Lifeboat Lane to the beach at Shaldon takes only minutes and, depending on demand, leaves every 10-15 minutes all year round.

From the Ferry Inn turn left down Marine Parade, which features many houses built by the Newfoundland fishing company for its workers with each allotted a portion of the beach to store nets and boats.

Continue to the Ness headland, bought by Lady Elizabeth, widow of the first Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, in 1671, thus beginning the family’s long association with Shaldon.

Ness House, now a pub, was built in 1810 as their summer residence and in 1869 the eighth Lord Clifford devised the Smuggler’s Tunnel to transport Oddicombe limestone from Ness Beach - dogs can be walked all year round here.

Nearby is the wheelchair-friendly Shaldon Zoo, notable for its protection of many endangered species of small animals, and an excellent 18-hole pitch and putt course.

You can return to the village by retracing your footsteps to Marine Parade or complete a circular route by climbing to the top of the drive - take great care here as it involves a 100 metre walk along the busy main road before turning right into Horse Lane.

From Horse Lane a flight of steps leads to the Botanical Gardens, created in the early 1900s by the Homeyard family, which features the folly known as Shaldon Castle.

The gardens are open to the public throughout the year.

It's well worth taking some time to explore the village - Dagmar Street, Sunny Patch, Albion Street, Riverside and the Green, originally given to the villagers by the Clifford family to dry their fishing nets, are all on the level.

The village has a good selection of top quality pubs and cafes as well as specialist shops.