10 great reasons to go to Teignmouth with kids

girl at pier on Teignmouth - Jenography

Since Georgian times Teignmouth has been a favourite seaside getaway. But don’t use that to convince your kids it’s a great time. Instead, you can use the things that made my daughter and her friend love it when we visited.

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These days it’s become a foodie haven and most recently is hitting the big screen in a film featuring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz about the tragic story of Donald Crowhurst. The Mercy, out in early 2018, tells the story of the yachtsman who set off from the town in an around-the-world race before sending false reports about his position and, upon discovering he was ostensibly going to “win”, disappearing at sea. Watch the trailer to see some spectactular scenes in Teignmouth.

The story is tragic but it lends this appealing port town an intriguing backstory. The town is bordered by sandstone cliffs and has all the things that make the British seaside so iconic: classic Regency architecture, a pier with good old-fashioned pasttimes (I can’t resist sweet shops and a few goes with a 2p cash fall), artisanal ice cream (or the kind serve with a Flake) and the great chance to wander with your kids, whatever their age. It’s a true promenade.

 

 

boats on shore in Shaldon South Devon - Jenography

Picturesque boats on the shore in Shaldon, with Teignmouth in the background

 

We went for a great weekend with Visit South Devon www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk staying at a fabulous self-catering place in Dawlish (read my gushing review –it’s warranted!).

Our accommodation and some of our outings were covered by Visit South Devon. All opinions are my own.

Here, my top the reasons of why you should think of South Devon for your next long family weekend.

You can:

1. Stroll the Regency seafront, pier and Back Beach

A walk around Teignmouth is great when it’s sunny but sunshine isn’t essential. We stood mesmerized watching the waves and the people go by on the seafront and pier, and the beach is dotted with picturesque boats. Does it help to say that we were able to find a parking space easily on the seafront? Yes, it does!

Teignmouth seafront on Jenography

A stroll on the seafront is the perfect way to eat your ice cream

 

Jen Howze on Teignmouth pier - Jenography

Looking back from the pier. It was partially closed due to construction when we visited

 

2. Have a game of truly awesome mini golf

Teignmouth has the honour of hosting, right on its seafront, the Gleneagles of mini-golf. We are aficionados of this particular pasttime in our family – seriously – and rank the Jurassic Adventure Golf here as one of the best versions we’ve ever played. How exciting to play a course that requires a special tool to scoop errant balls out of the water hazards? We whooped on the rare holes-in-one, cursed one particularly challenging hill, and watched a group of adults act as childish as we were at 10am. Plus there are model dinosaurs. (It must be a law that every mini-golf course have these.)

 

getting ready to play minigolf in Teignmouth - Jenography

Getting ready to play and meeting a dino

 

water hazards at Teignmouth mini-golf - Jenography

With water hazards like these, you might need the little scoops to retrieve your ball

 

Teignmouth mini-golf celebrating - Jenography

The course was challenging so we celebrated when we scored below par (or not, far right)

3. Clamber around at The Den

A great playground is a delight for kids and parents. The Den, another area right on the seafront, has a Green Flag award and an awesome play area, with equipment for climbing. The park itself was created way back in 1889, so you know they take their enjoyments seriously here. How many times have I sent up a little prayer because of a great selection of swings, climbing frames, monkey bars and seesaws? The laughter of children is your guide to how good this place is.

The Den at Teignmouth - Jenography

Whoops and laughs came from the playground on the seafront

 

4. Eat ice cream

We went twice to Cherry on Top, an adorable place off the green, just by the pier. It’s a hut with a yummy array of flavours and a sweet olde time feel. The first time we all got a scoop. The second time we replaced my daughter’s ice cream after an encounter with a seagull meant she needed a new one!

 

eating ice cream in Teignmouth - Jenography

Loads of flavours to choose from. A seagull had a taste of my daughter’s vanilla scoop, so we replaced it with chocolate!

5. Take the oldest passenger ferry to Shaldon

Shaldon sits just across the water from Teignmouth and is home to a cute little seafront in its own right as well as the ODE group of award-winning eateries. (See the food entry below for more info — http://odetruefood.com.) We loved walking around the lanes looking at the picturesque houses and cottages and picking up some supplies from a local butcher for our self-catered meal that night. The ferry, topped with colourful fluttering flags, offers continuous daily service – adults £1.50, children 70p per crossing. http://www.teignmouthshaldonferry.co.uk/

Shaldon Teignmouth ferry on Jenography

All aboard! The ferry runs throughout the day so you can easily hop on and go from Teignmouth to Shaldon and back

 

Jen in front of Ferry Boat Inn Shaldon

6. Explore Dawlish and admire the black swans

These beautiful black birds are rightfully famous — they are striking. They’re right in the middle of town – a fun walk down a row of small shops that includes some established brands, some that seem local. The train tracks run right along the waterfront — this was the place where the railway was swept away by storms in 2014. It was quite exciting to talk to the kids about being right here – a place they saw on the news at the time. The walk out on the jetty, jumping over the wet puddles and laughing as the waves splashed up was exhilarating. Obviously be careful! You could use this as a ocean safety briefing moment like we did. Just ignore the eye rolls from the teens. There’s a small parking lot at the end of the street for easy pay-and-display parking.

pier at Dawlish on Jenography

The pier at Dawlish

black swans in Dawlish - Jenography

These beauties are ready to be admired right in the middle of town

Girls on pier at Dawlish - Jenography

You can see the puddles on the pier from where the sea splashes up — exciting!

 

7. Eat seafood

Do I even have to say this? Cockles on the seafront. A delicious piece of fish at a local pub. Their area’s growing foodie reputation is buoyed by Tim Bouget’s award-winning ODE True Food empire, including a ODE&Co pizza restaurant and Café ODE, which is celebrated for its sustainability and brews a range of beers onsite. I loved the Crowhurst chowder, which was literally swimming with fresh seafood. (Café ODE covered a portion of the cost of our lunch.) In September The Taste of the Teign Food & Drink Festival showcases producers along the river with fun demonstrations, tastings and more. Other notable stops: Red Rock Brewery and Old Walls Vineyard, the steepest vineyard in England.

Cafe ODE collage on Jenography

The Crowhurst chowder, left, was scrumptious. We also loved the sweets, especially the gingerbread (middle, front)

 

Cafe ODE in Shaldon on Jenography

Cafe ODE is modern, sustainable…and delicious

 

Cafe ODE fish & chips on Jenography

Going to the seaside and not ordering fish & chips? Perish the thought. The portion at Cafe ODE was ideal, and served with skinny fries (our fave)

 

2 girls at Cafe ODE in Shaldon on Jenography

In addition to juices and coffees, the cafe serves microbrews and wine

 

8. Get some culture

The Pavilions Teignmouth seems to have every type of entertainment — dance performances, plays, comedy, music and films. The queues were out the door when tickets for The Mercy went on sale. Don’t miss the café overlooking the Grand Pier. The Laura Wall gallery was voted the best of Devon in 2017. AndtThe new Reuben Lenkiewicz gallery, opened by the son of the controversial Plymouth-based artist Robert Lenkiewicz, transforms a formerly derelict building in Teignmouth’s Arts Quarter to a gallery & art hub.

Laura Wall art in Teignmouth

You can take home a bit of Teignmouth with a print from Laura Wall gallery. Image: Courtesy Laura Wall

9. Visit a beach with a shady history

To get to Ness beach in Shaldon you have to walk through a smuggler’s tunnel. Once there, you find a beach that’s secluded, picturesque and sheltered — perfect for a family day out. I’m told the beach was definitely used by smugglers, and while the tunnel could have just been a route for access from a nearby house, surely it’s more fun to imagine the booty you’ll be sneaking down to intercept on the shore. You can book the beach for evening barbecues with the Teignmouth District Council and don’t worry about your pooch — dogs are welcome! Just up the SW Coast Path is inviting Ness pub, whose sloping lawn is ideal for playing tag.

Ness Cove beach collage on Jenography

Just up the beach from Ness Cove is The Ness pub pub and restaurant with a wide lawn for racing around. Beach image: Visit South Devon

 

10. Splash about with watersports

For more than a decade SeaSports South West has been getting people wet with kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, even powerboating. For thrill-seeking teens this is a great option. We ran out of time on our trip but I’d love to go back and get onto the waves. http://www.seasports-sw.com

 

SeaSports Southwest image

In addition to private lessons, SeaSports South West runs school Holiday Clubs. Image: Courtesy SeaSports South West

The details

ODE Truefood
@odetruefood
www.facebook.com/ODETRUEFOOD/
https://odetruefood.com/

SeaSports South West
@SeaSports_SW
www.facebook.com/SeaSportsSouthwest/
http://www.seasports-sw.com/

Additional resources

Where to stay: The Linney: The best self-catering cottage in South Devon?

Visit South Devon – Great advice for planning your trip. Visit South Devon: @visitsouthdevon
www.facebook.com/visitsouthdevon/

Teign Heritage Centre – Where to catch up on local history
http://www.teignheritage.org.uk

Shopdeadgorgeous – Quirky things for your shopaholic
http://www.shopdeadgorgeous.co.uk

Forest Fungi – A great little farm shop and cafe with mushrooms galore just outside Dawlish http://www.forestfungi.co.uk/

 

 

I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

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5 Comments

  1. January 20, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    Home territory for me, Jen,… sort of. I’d left home before Dad built a house in Bishopsteignton (just up the estuary from Teignmouth) and later built another in Shaldon where they lived out their lives.

    I didn’t know they were making a film about Donald Crowhurst. I remember it happening. Later they were trying to sell his boat, Teignmouth Electron. They approached my dad who was a local yacht owner, but he wouldn’t touch it. It don’t think it was a particularly practical decision. I think he thought it was cursed or tainted by the tragedy.

    • January 20, 2018 / 1:11 pm

      Alastair, How fascinating! I bet that the boat would be quite valuable, if not in monetary terms than at least with tragic history. I didn’t know you came from the area. I absolutely adored Shaldon — so beautiful and it seems very liveable.

      • January 20, 2018 / 2:02 pm

        It is. Shaldon is a lovely seaside village. Very pretty, very active in the summer and still very intimate. 🙂

  2. January 29, 2018 / 10:51 pm

    We’ve become familiar with South Devon over the last few years whilst our son has been at university in Exeter. We had two lovely days out in Teignmouth and Dawlish.
    I miss not having our regular trips there, now that Rory has graduated. Such a beautiful part of the country.

  3. February 22, 2018 / 10:49 pm

    I love this part of the world but Teignmouth isn’t one i know well – stories, swans and scoops sounds the perfect combination.

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