When poet John Keats visited Teignmouth in 1818, he arrived at a time when the weather was typically British: it had a bit of everything.
And so it is the case again in 2020. Squally rain gives way to white-hot sunshine. Puffy clouds swell and the wind huffs around like a stroppy teenager.
In the car park, boys whizz around on their scooters and a black Labrador barks at its owner ‘hurry up and let’s go for a walk’ it seems to say. The dog has the right idea.
The beach, down a steep hill over Brunel’s famous railway, stretches out towards the village of Shaldon on the opposite side of the Teign Estuary. Colourful boats bob in the river’s mouth and cheerful beach huts sit proudly on a long sand spit; the perfect location for watching the sunset over Dartmoor in the west.
An armada of cruise ships, dormant in Devon’s waters because of the pandemic, laze in the sunshine. Children, full of half-term energy, nip in and out of the Pier, coin machines jangling, lights flashing, cold ice creams served on a warm October day.
Handsome Georgian buildings line the seafront, interspersed here and there with modern glass-fronted blocks. The Pier, peppy in red and blue, reaches in the glittering sea.
Views out towards East Devon are stunning; the morning is clear enough to see the jagged peaks at Branscombe and the bulk of Golden Cap, rising above a gleam of the sky-blue Lyme Bay.
The sea wall curves around to Holcombe making for a pleasant out-and-back walk with the sea lapping at the shore and trains trundling past. Above me, a buzzard wheels and dogs bounce in and out of the surf.
Wandering back along the seafront, I think about Keats as I sit at a table on cafe’s rooftop terrace. Writing his poem ‘Teignmouth’ he said ‘here all summer I could stay’. He was right, I think, it’s got a bit of everything.
Start and finish: Eastcliff car park, TQ14 8TE.
Getting there: Car: M5 the A379 (scenic route) or A380 then B3192. Train: mainline from Exeter stop at Teignmouth. Bus: Regular Stagecoach South West services from Exeter, Newton Abbot and Torquay.
Walk: From car park, right down over railway bridge, left up sea wall for one mile up to Sprey Point (can continue on further towards Holcombe and turn back), follow sea wall back to seafront, with options to extend it further along the sea front.
Grading: Very easy and gentle.
Pit-stop: The View, Pavilions Teignmouth; Halulu Bar, seafront; The Old Java Coffee House, Den Road.