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If your idea of a perfect holiday is a pristine seaside resort in the true Victorian tradition of railway, buckets and spades and a promenade, then Dawlish is the answer. This town is a unique take on the traditional beach holiday, with a real community feel and all the traditional excitement of the sand and the sea.

The first inhabitants of Dawlish were fisherman and salt makers. This industry continued through the Roman occupation, and the town also benefited from farming in the surrounding countryside. Although it attracted literary figures such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, it was the railway that transformed Dawlish, allowing many more visitors to enjoy its classic Regency and early Victorian styles and ‘partake of the bracing sea air’.

There are plenty of things for you and the kids to do in Dawlish, most notably the long sandy beach, which provides the perfect way to spend a summer’s day swimming, exploring rock pools or boating. The town has plenty of interesting shops and a pleasant park where you can see the famous black swans of Dawlish glide sedately along the river. But be careful – they can get very greedy if you take a few crusts of bread along for them.

For traditional seaside fare, Dawlish has all the hot pie and fish and chip shops you would wish for, with freshly caught, picked and farmed produce in abundance.

Dawlish is a railway resort in the great British sense, and from either direction the Great Western main line is regarded as one of the most scenic in Britain. It runs along the coast under the distinct red brown cliffs literally a few metres from the shoreline and cutting through a series of dramatic tunnels and coves. It’s well worth exploring the remains of Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway, an abandoned system of using atmospheric power to propel trains that proved impractical and costly. Pumping stations and exhibits can be seen along the line and in local museums.

If you want a seaside holiday with an environmental slant, Dawlish Warren could be the destination you’re looking for. Built on a spit of sand with the Exe estuary on one side and the sea on the other, Dawlish Warren is one of South Devon’s most popular seaside resorts. It has all the attractions of a traditional holiday getaway but in an outstanding natural environment. With a nature reserve, warm weather throughout the year and ideal waters for paddling and swimming, Dawlish Warren is a gem of a location and wonderfully understated.

Essentially a sandy spit, the natural processes of the sea working against the coast formed Dawlish Warren. In recent history Dawlish Warren was developed as the railway brought in more visitors keen to enjoy the beaches along the South Devon coast, and today manages to be both an outstanding nature reserve and family orientated seaside resort. With a life-guarded beach, plenty of sand dunes and a great golf course, the Warren has plenty of entertainment for you to enjoy with pubs, restaurants and many free open-air events throughout the summer. The beach has been given a prestigious Blue Flag award, meaning it’s ideal for a range of water sports. The entire area has a great chilled out feel to it and if you’re into environmental issues, the 500 acres of Nature Reserve is a great day out for amateur botanists and bird watchers.

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