The crescent-shaped Tor Bay stretches from Berry Head at Brixham around to Hope’s Nose at Torquay.
Berry Head and Hope’s Nose are both limestone headlands and both Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
In both cases the limestone flora is enough to make them ‘special’ but at Hope’s Nose there’s another reason - the make-up of the limestone itself.
Within the limestone there are carbonate veins which when treated with strong acid reveals a web of gold branches. Associated with this gold are two rare minerals - selenium and palladium. Don’t expect to find any gold here now though because collectors have seen to that. If you really are keen to see what this gold looks like there are examples in the Natural History Museum in London.
Other things to be unearthed here, so to speak, are fossils. Not the well known ammonites that you find along the Jurassic Coast but coral fossils. I have to admit that I haven’t found any myself yet but I’m assured that they do exist and I intend to keep looking.
People who are interested in geology come down to Hope’s Nose, but the majority of regular visitors are fishermen.
This is arguably the most popular sea angling spot in South Devon and it’s not hard to see why. Not only is there a wide variety of fish they are also here in good numbers. Good quality Bass, Cod, Plaice, Mackerel, Whiting and Pollack are common, and there’s a huge list of other species that you may catch as well. I’m not a fisherman myself but you only have to look at the number of anglers here to know that it’s worth the trek down to the headland.
If you’re not interested in either geology or fishing then you may think it’s not worth making the effort to get here - but I reckon it is. With views across to the Lead Stone and Ore Stone ahead of you, Thatcher Rock to your right and Anstey’s Cove to your left, why would you not want to come to this unique and important part of the Torbay coastline?
To get here you can either walk the coast path or drive up Ilsham Marine Drive where there is limited roadside parking.
Walking down to the headland would be difficult if you have mobility problems.
About a mile from Torquay harbour is Meadfoot Beach.
This shingle beach was formed from Devonian slates and shales and runs from the foot of Daddyhole Plain at Triangle Point towards Ilsham Valley.
If you can manage to ignore the luxury, but incongruous Kilmorie apartment block (I can only guess at how planning permission was granted for that), this quiet beach is a lovely spot to relax. Behind it is Hesketh Crescent nestling under Lincombe Woods and there are views across to Thatcher Rock and The Orestone.
The beach is safe for bathing and easily accessible. There is a bus service that runs here, and ample parking - at both ends of the beach, and along the roadside in between.
This is all part of the SW Coast path and if you’ve walked here you may well want to take a pit stop at the nice little café near Triangle Point. You may want to stop here even if you’ve only just walked from the car.
The obvious focal point may well be the beach but you really shouldn’t miss Hesketh Crescent that lies behind it. It’s a bit like Bath-by-the-Sea. This Grade II listed Regency crescent was built in 1848 for the influential Palk family of Torquay and amongst the famous names associated with it was Charles Darwin who stayed here in 1861.
These days the crescent is all part of the Osborne Hotel and in the summer their Brasserie opens up onto a terrace overlooking the sea where you can enjoy a drink in the most elegant of surroundings. It may not be as cheap as The Meadfoot Café but I reckon you’d be hard pushed to resist it all the same.
If you’ve checked out any of my other pages on Torbay’s coastline you would have noticed that the area tries to cater for different people’s idea of recreation. Some parts of the coastline are ideal for people who like to relax, and other parts are for people who like more active pursuits. Here at Anstey’s Cove you can have the best of both worlds.
Generally speaking it’s a secluded and peaceful place in a wonderful setting.
Sheltered by Long Quarry Point (main picture), the cove has limestone cliffs that are ideal for ‘coasteering’ an activity that combines rock climbing, cliff jumping and swimming.
Organised by local companies with professional guides it’s become more popular in recent times - but if like me you prefer to keep your feet safely anchored on terra firma then you can just chill out in a deckchair or have a coffee at the nearby café overlooking the sea and just admire the view.
There’s a car park above the cove but access for people with mobility problems isn’t easy due to the fairly steep incline down to the cove - but if you do manage to make it down here the location will more than repay your effort.
Torquay’s coastline is naturally busy in the central area but as you head out along the coast path towards Babbacombe it becomes much quieter.
It’s still an urban area mind you and at the end of Meadfoot Beach the coast path is forced to use Ilsham Marine Drive for a part of the way around Thatcher Point and Hope’s Nose.
Whether you walk or take the car up around Ilsham Marine Drive you’ll soon see why homes have been built here. The views are fantastic and it has become one of Torquay’s most exclusive areas. Not for nothing is Thatcher Avenue known locally as Millionaire’s Row.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the same views though because there’s a lovely open space that leads down to Thatcher Point and Thatcher Rock, one of Torquay’s best known landmarks.
Not only does it have some great views, it’s also a nice peaceful spot to have a picnic or just chill out - and if you’ve brought the car you don’t even have to pay for parking. Bargain!
Not to be confused with what used to be known as Rock Walk, and now re-named Royal Terrace Gardens, Rock End Walk has some of the most some spectacular views in the whole of Torbay.
The coastal footpath between Beacon Cove and Daddyhole Plain is probably only about a mile long and can be walked in either direction, and although there’s a free car park at Daddyhole Plain, I’m going to describe the walk from Beacon Cove as it’s close to the harbour.
Beacon Cove lies just behind the Living Coasts attraction which is a coastal zoo and aquarium belonging to Paignton Zoo. You can’t miss the ‘Hairnet’, as locals call it, and to find the footpath walk along the Victoria Parade side of the harbour and at the end turn up Beacon Hill where on the right hand side is a brown tourist sign pointing the way to Beacon Cove.
A short walk brings you to the cove, where instead of the red beaches that Torbay is well known for, there’s a small, rocky grey limestone bay. Until 1903 it was a ladies only beach and a favourite spot for the young Agatha Christie who lived not far away.
It was the Victorians that created this footpath so that they could quarry the limestone for use in the emerging holiday town, and limestone is the dominant feature all the way along this stretch of coastline.
At Peak Tor Cove this was put to good use where the Home Guard used the landscape to keep watch over the bay during the 2nd World War.
As you climb the path the views become even better, and whatever you do don’t miss a small detour off the main path to see a natural limestone arch which the Victorians called ‘London bridge’
The main path from here starts to give some exceptional views of Torbay - and don’t just take my word for it, Napoleon Bonaparte thought the same when he described Torbay as reminding him of the Bay of Naples.
There’s a bit of a climb to reach the limestone plateau of Daddyhole Plain but you can always use the excuse that you’re photographing the view and not really taking a rest.
‘Daddy’ is an old Devon name for the Devil, who supposedly lived in a cave at the base of the cliff, hence the name Daddyhole.
There are even more views beckoning towards Thatcher Rock but this is where the Rock End Walk comes to an end. You can find your way back to the harbour down through roads which occupy one of the affluent parts of town or return along the same footpath that you came up on, but at least it’s practically all downhill on the way back.
Whichever way you do it I’m sure you’ll be glad that you didn’t miss this often overlooked lovely corner of Torquay.
One of the first things that a visitor to South Devon will notice is the red colour of the soil.
This red sandstone is just one constituent part of the geological make-up of the area though, and along with important pre-historic finds, particularly from Kents Cavern, the English Riviera was deemed so important from a geological point of view that in 2007 it was awarded the status of the world’s first urban geopark.
It was Torbay’s complex rock strata that encouraged Victorian scientists to come up with the geological time period of ‘Devonian’ which was around 400 million years ago - so you now know how old Torquay really is.
Even if you’re not interested in rock formations and pre-historic times I would still urge you to visit places like Hope’s Nose and Kents Cavern. You may just find out that you’re more interested than you thought you were.
Cockington village is just off the coast road between Torquay and Paignton. It has many old thatched cottages, 460 acres of green/woodland, and an old church. There are tearooms, and a lovely old pub.
If you wander into the "English Riviera Visitor Information" centre (as the Tourist Office is known here) you'll find a leaflet proclaiming that Cockington is "The Prettiest Village In England!" Well that's one for you to decide for yourself but it certainly is pretty and has managed, due to being in sympathetic private ownership for several hundred years, to retain much of its features and character from Medieval times.
Cockington is located about two miles from Torquay town centre and within easy walking distance. However the walk takes you through the town's suburbs and you don't really get into the countryside until you've reached the village itself. So it's better to just take the bus and then if you fancy a walk there's some real off the beaten path woodland wanders once you get there.
In summer Cockington is a bit of a tourist trap but out-of-season is well worth the visit. In the village centre all the houses are thatched and the 14th century forge and weaver's cottage are pretty much as they were 600 hundred or so years ago.
Next to the village is the 16th century (with several modernisations over the years) manor house, now known as Cockington Court which is open to visitors and its 460 acres of grounds are a delight to wander. Within the grounds there, amongst other delights, a world-famous aboretum, a 19th century sawmill, the 16th century "Gamekeeper's Cottage", the Stable Block Craft Centre, the manor house's rose and kitchen gardens and plenty of footpaths taking you through both the wild and cultivated parts of the grounds in general.
Just after the Court there's an archetypal set of seven almshouses which were last modernised, externally, in 1820 under the stewardship of the Mallock family.
If by now you've worked up a thirst the village pub, a very recent addition from 1936, is a magnificent building architecturally but a pretty naff boozer - but at least it does sell beer!!
To get to Cockington by bus you catch the Chelston Leisure Services minibus, #62, from in front of the Pavilion. This runs a sort of shuttle service during the day with the journey each way taking about 20 minutes.
Behind the Court on an elevated level is a beautiful walled rose and organic kitchen garden. The rose gardens are beautiful to wander around in the summer when the flowers are in full bloom with benches here & there for you to have a ponder as well as a wander.
The Organic Kitchen Garden Project promotes an understanding and need for a move to more organic ways, they offer courses to pass on their knowledge for domestic organic gardening, it is also possible to be a volunteer gardener here.
If your interested in attending a course, more information in the weblink below.
Babbacombe is an area of Torquay which is a resort in itself. The cliff top promenade enjoys dramatic views across Lyme Bay that, on a clear day, can stretch as far as Golden Cap in Dorset. To make the journey down to the beach at Oddicombe you have the mild option by drifting 240 feet down on the cliff railway, which has been functioning since 1926. Someone was moving a table from the office & accidentally knocked into the side of the emergency stop button, the car halfway down came to a sudden halt sending people flying. Luckily no one was hurt, but there’s a grill over the button now!
Not far from Babbacombe is the pretty town centre of St Marychurch – a village within the town of Torquay, which is in the Doomsday book. Its pleasant pedestrianised grounds have a fine assortment of shops & cafes. Babbacombe’s most infamous inhabitant was John Lee, “The man they couldn’t hang”, who was convicted of the murder of his employer in 1884. The trapdoor was pulled three time’s, but the door failed to open; it was tested without body weight & was found to be working perfectly despite testing with sacks & dummies! His sentence was commuted & he did 22 years living to the age of 69.
Occombe Farm has is part of the Torbay Coast and Countryside enterprises LTD and a registered charity. It's reletively new in Torbay, the first time I visited was in 2006.
They have a farm shop selling a variety of organic fruit, vegatables and locally produced food. Their bread is baked on site and they have an excellent selection of local cheeses. The butchers section is also excellent, the meat is fresh and of excellent quality.
Upstairs they have a cafe serving teas, coffees, cakes, sandwiches and other snacks, all produced at the farm.
The farm area has space for running educational events as well as other types of events and there are tracks to go off walking around the farm and the local countryside.
All in all a good place to spend a couple hours, have some good food and buy some great food to take home.
There are three lakes at Cockington,they are thought to have been created by the monks living at Torre Abbey to supply them with fresh fish and were restored by the local land owner,Richard Mallock before he died in 1900.
The garden was created in 1700s to provide produce for cockington court,now schools and comunity groups are being given the chance to design their own individual raised beds.There is also bee hives in the garden.
If your not going into the Drum Inn for something to eat or drink go and walk around their gardens,they are one of the prettiest i've seen.You can also sit down outside there is plenty of seating areas.
A wonderful walk any time of day is the road running along Meadfoot Beach. The beach itself is not good, mostly very rocky apart from the west end where it is a little sandy & a few beach huts, cafe and toilets.
It is not a long walk only about a mile each way but you have lovely views over the bay towards Birxham walking one was & in the other directionOrestone and Thatchers Rock Islands.