Monday, 3 January 2011


We know that smuggled goods that had been landed in Babbacombe Bay regularly came overland from Combe Cellars on the Teign to Lympstone on the Exe. This was a distance of some ten miles, across two rivers and over hilly country. The journey was made at night.

Looking at the map the route they took seems pretty clear. The goods would have been rowed across the Teign to Luxton’s Step and there strapped to ponies that the smugglers led through Bishopsteignton and up across the side of Little Haldon to join the ancient Dort Way that leads by way of Greenaway Lane and so by deep and narrow paths to Kenton. It is hard to see how Kenton could have been circumvented and no doubt there was a good measure of:”Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by.” in that place.

Then somehow the goods were brought to the shores of the Estuary on or near the Powderham estate and there they were loaded into boats and rowed across the tide to Lympstone where, tradition has it, they were offloaded either at Sowden End or Parsonage Stile depending on which route seemed the safer. The smugglers signalled to each other across the river , so it is said, by lanterns shone, on the Eastern side, from the tops of the cliffs. From Lympstone, 'that notorious haunt of smugglers' the goods were carried, with ever more confidence, up-country.

It must have been exciting work, travelling through the night with smuggled goods , over hills and through dark woods, but it would seem these midnight folk carried on their trade largely undisturbed by the Excisemen.

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