- Visit the famous black swans below the tranquil waterfall in the Lawn
- Visit the Blue Flag beach at Dawlish Warren
- Explore the wider attractions that Devon has to offer, including the English Riviera and the Exe Estuary
Dawlish is a charming, characterful town sat on the seafront on Brunel’s South Coast Railway. With architecture heavily influenced by the Georgian and Victorian periods and a park running through its town centre, Dawlish is a picture-postcard seaside town offering beaches and rolling countryside. Through the central park runs a brook where you will find rare black swans, and other wildfowl - a truly peaceful haven.
At night, coloured lights bring the town to life, washing the skyline in beautiful light, making for a truly romantic evening stroll. There are three beaches, including a Blue Flag beach at nearby Dawlish Warren, and much to explore along the coastline of Devon, from the English Riviera to the Exe Estuary.
Food and Drink
For a family hungry after a long day the Witches Bowl is perfect. A family run restaurant which prides itself on good food cooked fresh to order, the food is complimented by great service in a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. The Longstone Cliff Hotel is another option, offering a table d ’hote menu and a popular Sunday carvery as well as a veranda which is the perfect place to dine on summer evenings.
A great spot for all seasons in the Smugglers Inn, serving a huge variety of pub grub, from summer salads served on the terrace overlooking the sea to a hearty carvery in the restaurant with an open fire. For seafood, try Nautilus, which serves top quality local Brixham fish and other locally sourced ingredients. If fine dining is what’s required, a short train journey to Exeter will take you to the award-winning Abode restaurant, owned by Michael Caines.
There are a number of attractions in and around the Dawlish area to be enjoyed by all the family. A fascinating historical day can be had at Powderham Castle, with its deer reserve in the grounds. More active pursuits can be enjoyed on the Dawlish Discovery Walk and the picturesque coastal path. A short train journey will take you to the English Riviera, which includes the award-winning Paignton Zoo, while Babbacombe Model Village offers a fun miniature world for the kids to enjoy. A few miles outside of town is Prickly Ball Farm, a hedgehog hospital ideal for children, while Crealy Adventure Park is a fun filled day out some 20 miles inland.
Canonteign is home of England's highest waterfall at 220ft. Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and offering a mix of waterfalls, lakes and cascades, surrounded by rock formations in a woodland setting, it makes for a tranquil place to spend the day.
The town centre has a varied selection of shops including high street names such as Boots and a Co-op, along with smaller independents, offering something for everyone. There are eating places for all tastes, including traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants. At the heart of the town centre lies 'The Lawn'. As the name suggests it’s a very large grass area with an outdoor bowling green, bandstand for concerts, deckchairs, Tourist Information Centre, decorative flower beds and hatchery where you can see the new additions to the duck population on the Brook that flows adjacent to the lawn.
Shops lie on either side of The Lawn, with grocers on the strand side and clothes and gift shops on both. If the lure of big name stores is too great, a short train journey to Exeter will take you to the newly developed Princesshay shopping centre, with household names.
History and Heritage
Two flour mills opening during the start of the Industrial Revolution was the start of huge changes to the face of Dawlish. The heavy influences of Georgian and Victorian architecture are there for all to see, but arguably the biggest change in the towns history came in the form of the atmospheric railway, the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Although the atmospheric railway is no longer in use, it did bring with it much tourism through the 1800’s and early 1900’s and the town has continued to grow as a result. Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were both regular visitors, with Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby was born in Dawlish. In the early 1900’s the now famous black swans migrated to Dawlish from Australia, making it their home ever since.
Dawlish itself has a sandy beach set in front of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railway, while Dawlish Warren is a couple of miles up the coast and is a popular Blue Flag beach with a long expanse of sand.
Towards the end of Dawlish beach, Coryton Cove is more secluded with a sheltered, shaded area if the sun becomes a little too hot.
Events and Entertainment
For film lovers, the nearest cinemas are a short journey away, with Exmouth, Torquay, Newton Abbot and Exeter all showing the latest releases.
Stay in late August and you may catch the Dawlish Carnival Week. Just some of the events on offer throughout the week include a Junior Field Gun Run, Soap Box Derby, It’s A Knockout, Carnival Idol and Fancy Dress parade with a spectacular air show, featuring displays from the Red Arrows and Blue Eagles, and a lively carnival and procession.
A real sense of traditional town spirit is created during this wonderful event, with the whole town getting involved and welcoming visitors. Events come to a close with a hog roast on the Lawn, with music courtesy of The Real Steel band.
For water based pursuits, the Exe estuary offers boating, bird watching and fishing. The Dawlish Discovery Walks are a set of routes designed to allow you to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of the Dawlish coastline. If you fancy a flutter, Newton Abbot Racecourse is only a short train journey away, while keen golfers can tee off at Shaldon Golf Course.
If you fancy something a little more active, Ashcombe Adventure Centre offers a wide selection of activities hyperslide, assault course, raft building, clays, archery, course fishing, paintball, quad bikes, stallion karting and digger driving.
Dawlish can be accessed in a number of ways. There is a train station on the seafront in the town, though you may need to change to a local train at Newton Abbot. The same local train makes connecting to the rest of South Devon easy.
Driving to Dawlish is just as easy, with the town just around 10 miles from M5, navigating to Dawlish should not be problem. Flying in, the nearest airport is Exeter International Airport.