Ness Cove – light at the end of the tunnel

We followed the signs to Smuggler’s Tunnel and disappeared into a dark passage.

It’s not every day you get to pretend to be smugglers – albeit vocal rather than stealth ones.

We roared, whooped and shouted our way through the long echoing tunnel. Blue Eyes couldn’t get enough of it.

There was a hush as we heard the sound of the sea and ahead of us an expanse of blue blinded is. There is something even more spectacular about a sea view when you’ve emerged from a dark tunnel.

This is Ness Cove, Shaldon. Our new local.

Devon mum with toddlers against sea view

Pretty impressive as far as entrances go.

We set to work building sand castles and scrambling over rocks. It wasn’t exactly warm. In fact it was frickin freezing so we sheltered amongst the rocks and huddled together. When the sun peeked out from the clouds we basked in its warm rays, optimisic Brits.

The Smuggler’s Tunnel was even more exciting on the way back – probably because we didn’t hold back, we really went for it with the animal noises reverberating and delighting the boys. Some random passers by joined in.

We popped into the little gift/ice cream shop and picked up some fish food to feed the gigantic fish in a little pond. Thirty pence well spent on entertaining our smalls – although did feel a tad concerned for some of the more obese fish, which lollopped about the pond.

Next stop Cafe ODE. This is not your average seaside cafe. It is a little bit special. BB dined on pulled pork, I tucked into a warming lentil dahl and the boys feasted on posh fish & chips. You might want to ask for no salt on the kids’ chips – it wasn’t until our wee-est got half way through we realised they were generously seasoned with rock salt (not ideal for a kids meal, or am I just being neurotic?!).

A roaring fire warmed us up and the long tables and benches meant we got talking to another family with a toddler. It was a great atmosphere and delicious, nutritious fresh food. Make sure you book though – there’s not much seating and you don’t want to miss out.


We headed home after lunch, feeling that heady tiredness you only get from a bracing walk on Devon’s coast. We didn’t even make it to Shaldon Zoo, which is right there.

Next time.

The boring essentials

Getting there: We parked in the car park at the top of the hill. Pop the Cafe Ode postcode into your sat nav or Google Maps and you’ll find it, no problem.

Finding the beach: Head in the direction of the tourist information hut and the little shop, following signs to Smuggler’s Tunnel.

Buggy friendly: Nah, I wouldn’t. We used the Ergo. The tunnel is quite narrow and then there’s steps down so would be a pain – plus it’s a pretty pebbly beach.

Loos: Yep. Just before the entrance to the tunnel. Cafe Ode has changing facilities too.

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