If you’re looking for an adventure by train, the easiest places to start are station to station walking routes but this exploration from Teignmouth station on the South Devon coast to Newton Abbot station just up the Teign Estuary is no ordinary walk.
Because if you attempted it at high tide, you would be underwater.
Once you’ve checked the tide times however, you’ll be perfectly safe walking this intriguing route. Down on the river bed you’ll find yourself away from the crowds in unique world all your own.
Because it’s tidal, this walk is never the same twice. The foreshore is a fascinating place to be. Not quite beach, not quite land, not quite what you’re expecting but you’ll finish this station to station walk feeling you’ve been somewhere really special.
Just make sure you’re walking two hours either side of low tide.
Walking on the Teign Estuary foreshore
Check the tide times for Teignmouth before you set off and only walk this route for two hours either side of low tide. For example, if high tide is predicted at 14:00, you should set off no earlier than 12:00 and finish no later than 16:00.
If time gets away from you (there is the fabulous Coombe Cellars pub along the way), you’ll need to find an exit from the foreshore and divert to the lanes. It is possible to find a pretty walk through to Newton Abbot but lanes can be complicated.
If you don’t want to end up going the wrong way, take a map!
The sections of this walk along the tidal foreshore are flat and stony but they can be slippery. I found a walking pole very helpful. There are a few entry and exits points but much of the route passes below private land so check the times as you go and revert to the lanes if you need to.
The Templer Way
The route you’ll be following along the river is part of the longer Templer Way, a 29 km walk that follows the trail of quarried stone all the way from Dartmoor’s famous Haytor (some of it eventually ended up in London).
On a clear day, you’ll able to spot Haytor for yourself along the way so you can make up your own mind whether or not you’d like to tackle the whole route (I would recommend walking it downhill towards the sea!)
The Riviera Line
One of the big advantages of this station to station walking route is the railway line itself. South Devon’s Riviera Line offers one of the UK’s most beautiful train rides and is well known for its sea views, tunnels and beaches.
If you fancy a dip, check out my sea swimming along the Riviera Line adventure by train. Once you’ve completed your walk, your return train journey to Teignmouth station will take you along the opposite side of the estuary where you’ll have fun spotting where you’ve just walked.
Especially if the tide has come right up.
Walking route Teignmouth station to Newton Abbot station
- Start station – Teignmouth
- Finish station – Newton Abbot
- Distance: 11.3 km
- Elevation: 114 m
- Time: 3 hours
- Refreshments: Teignmouth station, Newton Abbot station, Coombe Cellars pub
- Toilets: Teignmouth and Newton Abbot stations, Coombe Cellars pub and Teignmouth seafront
Leave Teignmouth train station and cross under the road via the subway. Follow the signs through the shops to the seafront.
A traditional working beach
Walk along the prom until you come to the car park at the end. Take the far steps down onto beach then turn right to walk in front of the huts and buildings along Back Beach. Take your time here to take in the views up the river, you’ll be crossing the bridge soon and walking up the Shaldon side.
Next to the railway
At the end of Back Beach keep the car park on your right and head up and over the railway footbridge. Turn left to find your way up river with the railway line on your left and the rugby ground on your right. Take the steps on the right then a path to emerge at the northern end of the Teignmouth and Shaldon Bridge.
Note: After Back Beach the footpath signs will take you between the Old Quay buildings onto another beach but this route involves a low tunnel under the railway line. We recommend avoiding it unless you fancy an giggle and wet feet.
Crossing the bridge
The views from the Teignmouth Shaldon Bridge are fantastic whatever the weather. See if you can spot the section of bridge that raises to allow taller boats through, and the sand and shingle bank known as the Salty, which stretches out from Shaldon and underneath the bridge. At the end of the bridge turn right along the riverfront.
Join the Templer Way
The Templer Way ends in Shaldon but today you’re going to follow it up the river. This first section is on dry land but keep an eye out for the distinctive signs and soon they’ll take you down a slip onto the foreshore. It’s here your estuary adventure really begins.
Follow the foreshore as it winds upriver. There’s plenty to see, you’ll pass a caravan park as well as some rather lovely homes. Stay close to the wall to avoid the most slippery sections, and be wary of anything green.
Just before you round the corner to cross Arch Brook, look out for the trestles built to support bags of farmed shellfish. The Teign Estuary is famous for its mussels and Pacific oysters. You’ll find the shells of all three as you walk.
Briefly leave the foreshore to cross Arch Brook via the road bridge. Immediately after the bridge, head back onto the shore again.
Coombe Cellars Pub
You can’t miss Coombe Cellars Pub, it sticks right out into the estuary. Head up the slip and cross the car park to the opposite diagonal corner (there’s opportunity to stop for refreshment here if you want to but don’t forget about the tide).
Cross the stream and stile then head through the kissing gate and diagonally uphill across the field. You are briefly leaving the Templer Way here. The foreshore at Netherton Point can get very muddy.
At the top of the field, keep the boundary hedges on your left and cross another field. Turn left to continue uphill until your find yourself in the lane that leads to Netherton House. Turn left along this lane then right at the crossroads to head downhill to the pretty thatched hamlet of Lower Netherton.
If you like proper farm meat and cider, you might want to take a look at the Tuckett’s Farm Facebook page. They have plenty on offer and some of it is quite unusual.
Under the A380 road bridge
Head up the hill out of Lower Netherton then turn left onto Hackney Lane. You’ll know you’re in the right place because you’ll get a whiff of the sewage works (which don’t discharge into the river here).
At the bottom of the lane turn left onto the foreshore (and the Templer Way) again and follow it upriver until you pass underneath the A380 road bridge. There’s something fascinating about being underneath a bridge you usually whizz over in a car.
Welcome to Newton Abbot
After the A380 bridge, continue up the river a short way then turn right away from the main road to cross a footbridge. Just beyond here the path winds in then out of an industrial estate.
Follow the Templer Way signs round until you cross underneath the railway line. Turn left to walk past the old malting house where (if you arrive in the afternoon) you’ll find great craft beer. From here it’s just a short walk to Newton Abbot station.
I’ve walked this route a few times but never completely along the foreshore. My favourite section is Shaldon to Coombe Cellars but the section to Newton Abbot has its own moody atmosphere. The weather for my latest walk was misty, perfect if you’re looking for seclusion and that feeling of adventure. Other day’s I’ve visited, the estuary has been as bright a blue as the sky and equally mesmerising.
That’s the beauty of a tidal walk. Never the same twice.