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Things to do on the English Riviera in the sun

Torquay beach

As I type, it’s yet another glorious sunny day, just one of many over the last week or so. And not about time – our weather has been a little up and down this year, even seeing several inches of snow which hasn’t been seen for some forty years around here, which is why the English Riviera is known for its temperate climate.

So now we’re back to our usual weather pattern, several windows are flung wide open, the bedrooms have the aircon on, and many a guest is enjoying their complimentary welcome drink on our sun terrace. Patsy our miniature Schnauzer is lying in front of her fan and staying cool.

It’s days like this that are the reason I love living in Torquay and also owning a B&B. Once the guests are checked in and settled, it’s hard to resist the urge to wander down to the seafront and enjoy a G&T at one of the many bars or restaurants with outdoor seating in the sun, next to the gently swaying palm trees and looking over the sea. Another favourite sunny pastime is taking advantage of the sun which in the summer is on our terrace until 9pm by opening a bottle (or two) of prosecco with friends.

I recently produced a list of 100 Things to Do locally (yes…there are that many!) The English Riviera has more things to do than any other UK resort so you’re never likely to get bored whatever the weather.

My list is split into various categories, and for things to do in the sun I’ve suggested:

A walk down to Torre Abbey Sands beach. This is our closest beach and only a ten minute walk via the grounds of Torre Abbey – our closest tourist attraction. There are many beaches along our coastal stretch and range from small hidden coves with very few people to mile long stretches of open sand with traditional seaside piers.

A walk on Berry Head Nature Reserve – this is a great spot for watching bird life or various ocean mammals like porpoise and dolphins. You can just walk around it, or walk into Brixham from there via Shoalstone Outdoor Lido. There’s a café at Berry Head run by our friends Alex and Lucy – they do great meals and lovely cake (one of the very few places you can eat cakes as good as mine!).

Enjoy a drink or an ice cream in the sun at Abbey Sands. It’s a fairly new row of bars and restaurants and gets the late afternoon / early evening sun and each establishment has outdoor seating. The ice cream shop opposite sells Mr Whippy type ice creams and you can combine the flavours too. Alcohol, sun and ice cream – what’s not to love? That would make me visit the English Riviera in itself!

Play crazy golf – located in between Torre Abbey and the beach you’ll find our local crazy golf course. It’s themed around the jungle and a really good course. It’s a great way to spend an hour or so on a sunny afternoon.

Take a pleasure cruise around the bay – as well as various ferries to local ports like Paignton, Brixham and Dartmouth, there are a variety of pleasure cruises you can take, some to take in the coastal scenery and history, others to look at the sea life.

Torre Abbey Gardens – our closest tourist attraction with over 400 years of history. It’s a really fascinating museum with many facets to it – it’s an art gallery, an old abbey, it’s been a stately home and also covers the history of Torquay. It can take several hours to go round, but you can just tour the gardens if you prefer which are interesting in their own right with abbey ruins, formal gardens, glass houses and even a poison garden inspired by our local crime writer, Agatha Christie who was born in Torquay.

Visit Babbacombe Model Village. It’s set on a hillside and has many scenes to amuse you. It’s certainly not just for kids and just as enjoyable by adults. You can also visit some evenings in summer and see it all lit up.

Takeaway fish and chips from Hanburys – the famous multi-award winning fish and chip shop is also in Babbacombe – a short ten minute drive from The 25. They have a full sit down restaurant (best to book) but they also do takeaway food. It’s only a couple of hundred meters from the “downs” where you can sit on a bench overlooking the sea on the promenade and enjoy the views.

Splashdown Water Park – the UK’s largest water park is only a short drive from Torquay and ideal for those thrill seekers and water lovers. Ideal for a sunny day, but the water is heated so it can be enjoyed even on a dull day – and there will be less queues.

Dartmoor National Park – Dartmoor became a National Park in the 1950s and covers 368 square miles. To get the most out of a day on Dartmoor, you can either use the handy guide I’ve produced, or better still, use our recommended tour guide. Alex from Unique Devon Tours will pick you up from The 25 and take you to all the points of interest. He also offers various other tours. See our website for more info on Alex and his tours.

Have fun on Paignton Pier – a traditional seaside pier – it’s still the place to go for an amusement arcade, ice creams, candy floss and to bring back all those happy childhood memories.

English Riviera Wheel – from Easter to October we have the English Riviera Wheel located next to Princess Theatre in Torquay which you can ride to see a bird’s eye view of Torquay and its harbour. There’s an interesting commentary whilst you go round covering the history of Torquay and pointing out some of the points of interest.

Cream tea in Cockington Village – you can’t come to Devon and not enjoy a traditional Devon cream tea. Please remember that here in Devon it’s cream first, then jam on top. Do it the other way round (the Cornish way and frankly the wrong way) then you’re likely to get some glares from the locals. Cockington is like going back in time to a thatched chocolate box type village, unspoiled by the last 150 years of changes. There’s a craft village alongside lots of other things to keep you busy. See my recent blog on a day out in Cockington here.

Play Pitch n Putt overlooking the sea – also located next to Torre Abbey for the more serious golfers amongst you is the Pitch n Putt. There’s also tennis courts and a bowling green so there’s something for everyone. You’ll find a selection of cafés in the vicinity too so there’s always the opportunity to grab a bite to eat afterwards.

Ride Babbacombe Cliff Railway – the famous funicular railway built in 1926 to transport people down the very steep hill to the lovely Oddicombe beach (we have a room named after it). You can walk down, but why tire yourself and miss the experience? There’s a good café down on the beach or you can walk along the coastal path to Cary Arms and enjoy a drink or meal there.

So there you have it – my list of fifteen things to do on the English Riviera on a sunny day.

There’s a whole load more I could list but why don’t you come down to Torquay and discover for yourselves? Hope to see you soon. I’m off to pour myself a large G&T and enjoy the evening sun.


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