Dear Mummy, last week saw us in Shaldon, South Devon on holiday. A lovely staycation by the sea. We stayed in a caravan at the inexpensive Devon Valley Holiday Village. Recommended by friends, it was a lovely location and very cheap for a week away.
Shaldon is a village in South Devon, England. It is located on the south bank of the estuary of the River Teign, opposite the town of Teignmouth. It has been described as “a quaint English drinking village, with a fishing problem”- Times Online 2008. Shaldon isn’t as commercial as many of the South Devon towns, but is perfect if you want to experience real Devon life firsthand. There are some great days out around Shaldon, with clean beaches that are ideal for swimming, sailing, rowing, rock pooling and paddling.
Devon Valley Holiday Village
Arriving in Shaldon instantly put us into a holiday mood. Driving over the bridge from Teignmouth, the water sparkling in the sunshine, we entered the village in full celebratory swing, with Shaldon Festival and the Queens 90th Birthday being celebrated. We drove along narrow side streets past houses decked with bunting and scarecrows, which were part of the festivities. We finally reached our destination 3 hours away from our home and it was stunning.
At first my folks worried how I would deal with sleeping in a caravan, but I coped with it very well, and just like camping we can see us staying in one of these mobile homes again very soon. Devon Valley was a great spot, within walking distance of the village centre of Shaldon. It was a 15 minute drive from the market town of Newton Abbot and across the water from Teignmouth. The English Riviera was on our doorstep as well with beautiful beaches of Dawlish Warren and Paignton and the lively nightlife of Torquay.
Views from our holiday park were of the estuary leading out to sea and the sunsets were beautiful here. There were lots of amenities at Devon Valley Holidays, such as entertainment, kids club, shops, bars and a restaurant called the Boathouse which had amazing views of the picturesque location. It even had a on-site takeaway for holiday makers!
We went for an extra wide caravan called Shaldon Silver and it was more than adequate for our family of three. We went self catering and local supermarkets were just across the water less than a 15min drive. You got what you paid for and it was basic, clean and a good bolthole to explore Devon.
Shaldon High Street & Festival Celebrations
While we were visiting we caught the tail end of the Queen’s 90th celebrations and the Scarecrow competition in Shaldon and the street parties were in full flow. The fishing village was so picturesque filled with union jack flags, scarecrows and decorations adoring driveways and doors and shop fronts.
It had a lovely community feel about it. While wandering along the narrow, costal streets of Shaldon, past rows of thatched cottages and listed Georgian homes, we didn’t bat an eyelid at people dressed up in their Sunday best, in frilly dresses and smart suits mixed with fishermen and farmers, it seemed to be the seaside village that time forgot.
Shaldon also has a small beach and port, with great views over the estuary. Shaldon beach is located at the mouth if the River Teign and is a gently sloping mix of sand and shingle that levels out at the river estuary. We thought the colour of the sand was usual, almost like powdered mud and matched the reddish brown cliff that towered over the small village.
We had a go at crabbing for the first time and really enjoyed it, buying a crab bucket, netting and bait. We used bacon and sausage to draw them in and they were actually really easy to catch. Once I had inspected our crabs we let them go back into the sea. In the mornings at low tide we would see people hunting for cockles out on the spits and lots of fishermen with long lines cast deep into the water.
Shaldon beach has spectacular coastline and because of its location and the way the sands have formed, it’s perfect for a number of water sports including sailing, fishing, swimming, canoeing and rowing, but bear in mind that Shaldon beach is not patrolled by lifeguards! We saw lots of rowers on the water too, but it looked far too cold for us to join in!
We had a little stretch of coast just opposite our caravan that we liked exploring when the tide was out. I also enjoyed watching the little boats sailing past and finding treasure on the beach. I even found a plastic ring with a heart shaped pink jewel which I insisted came from the pirates who sailed the waters.
Shaldon also boasts the oldest passenger ferry in England. The Shaldon-Teignmouth ferry just looks like a normal fishing boat and not what we expected at all. It takes a few minutes and drops you off near the Crab Shack restaurant in Teignmouth. We traveled with friends to Shaldon and I had great fun playing on the beach while my folks enjoyed a coffee.
Even though the weather was hit and miss, we managed get into the sea and my mummy dipped her toes in the water. The sand was powdery soft and on a hot sunny day it would have been blissful. The water was clean and clear and you could see to the bottom.
We visited a lovely Pub up on the hill, called The Ness, which was one of the nicest pubs we’ve ever been to, the decor, food and the views were fantastic. The staff were super friendly and accommodating and the prices not bad either. They even do hotel rooms, so next time we visit we’re definitely going to book. The Ness House Hotel is a Georgian property, built-in 1810, on the outskirts of Shaldon village overlooking the Teign Estuary and only a stone’s throw from the two beaches. Shaldon Beach just below and a hidden beach far away from the tourists…
Smugglers Tunnel & Ness Cove
Behind The Ness is a small smugglers tunnel which leads to a local beach set within a cove. You can only access the beach by walking through a dark tunnel. It’s about 20 yards away from the pub and leads you down to the secluded Ness Beach, sheltered by the Ness Cliff. It was a stormy day when we visited but we still managed to sit on the beach and relax for a little while. Watching the threatening weather come in from across the sea like pirates coming home with their bounty!
Ness Beach is accessed via an original Smugglers tunnel, that comprises both a sloping path down, and some steps. Its damp and dark and a real experience especially for pirate lovers like us. I sang all the way down and loved listening to my echo. Ness Cove is one the most secluded and picturesque beaches in Devon, completely enclosed by the shelter of the cliffs above.
Ness Beach has some great history and we’d recommend a visit, it is known to have been used by smugglers in the past. Some think that the tunnel used to access the beach today was built by them, hence it’s name Smugglers Tunnel, however another rumour is that it was actually created by the owners of nearby Ness House in the 1800’s so that they could access the beach.
Whatever its original purpose it’s a wonderful way to get to the beach, with its dark entrance and windy path through the heart of the cliff ending with a wonderful view down onto the beach as you exit at the other end. It wasn’t as clean as we though it would be with remnants of beach parties, BBQ’s and some litter strew across the secluded areas, but still picturesque nonetheless.
Back through the tunnel and heading towards the tourist information point we spotted Shaldon Zoo, its right next door to the entrance of Smugglers Tunnel. We visited Shaldon Zoo on a brighter day and it was perfect for a small toddler like me. Set in an acre of peaceful woodland gardens high above Shaldon, the owners look after and preserve some of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world. We loved the design of the zoo and the enclosures were well maintained and easy for children to view the animals. We found the Ring-tailed lemur’s really fascinating and they loved to sunbathe when the sunshine did finally appear.
It was nice and quiet when we visited which gave us the opportunity explore fully and not disrupt the habitats too much, a lot of the time we just silently observed these creatures and we enjoyed seeing the Lemurs, Meerkats and Monkeys. There were so many different breeds – too many to count and this Zoo is a must see on a visit to Shaldon. We loved seeing Golden Lion Tamarins for the first time! Shaldon Zoo is not very big but definitely an eye opener for a toddler like me. The Zoo offers a tranquil setting and it was really nice just ambling around at our own pace and revisiting enclosures when we wanted.
Outside the zoo is a large council run parking area, a tourist information point and a wonderful cafe called Cafe ODE. We ducked in to escape the rain after our sightseeing and to have a Devon Cream Tea. It was a real treat and the decor was really smart. Cafe ODE is know locally to provide quality, sustainable and ethically sourced food served in a family friendly environment. They buy their fish according to the local market, a stones throw away, and the meat is supplied by local farmers.
They had a micro brewery on site too called Two Beach Brewing Co. and my daddy was fascinated watching Andy making his ales in the bespoke brewery creating Shaldon Shag, Whistling Bridge, Beer from here. and Yule Fuel for Christmas. It’s just a shame we didn’t pick some up, but carrying a sleeping toddler out into a car in the pouring rain proved to be difficult!
All in all, we had a lovely visit to this wonderful seaside village and can’t wait to return in the future. It was such a quirky and lovely place with a real sense of community that my folks were even contemplating moving there!
Love Bella xx