We’ve had some amazing autumn sunshine down here on the English Riviera over the last few weeks. And what great timing for the first ever English Riviera Walking Festival which took place over the last two weeks. I believe it’s been incredibly successful with a whole range of walks, all bookable online, covering all types of terrain and abilities. Many walks had themes such as Agatha Christie, others took in the South West Coast Path and others explored why the area is a unique UNESCO Global Geopark.
We took the opportunity to have a short walk along the South West Coast Path ourselves, and discovered another hidden cove which we’ve not been to before. There are many hidden coves along our beautiful coastline, some of which I detailed in my blog when we walked from Brixham back towards Torquay. They’re ideal if you prefer to spend some quieter time away from the droves of tourists in the summer months.
One this particular afternoon, we decided to drive to our starting point at Daddy Hole Plain (TQ1 2EF), however, you could walk there if you wanted to extend your walk. Once parked up, we walked along the coast path towards Torquay. There are quite a few steps involved on this walk, some of which are deep and suitable footwear is advised. The autumn or springtime are ideal for this walk as there are less leaves on the trees meaning the views can be enjoyed more fully.
On route, you can walk down to a viewing point which is signposted for London Bridge Arch. This is a well known rock which over time has been carved out by the sea to be reminiscent of a bridge. It’s had the name for centuries and is a popular spot for coasteering, jumping, fishing and diving. It’s also a popular subject for paintings and drawings and is located next to an old limestone quarry.
Continuing on and you’ll make your way down towards the edge of the Imperial Hotel grounds, you can veer off the path again beforehand, down towards the seafront, past terraced lawn along around 150 steps. It is here that you will find Peaked Tor Cove.
It’s a tiny pebbly cove which was once designated as a “gentleman’s bathing cove”, the female bathing cove was located the other side of the Imperial Hotel and can be accessed through a gate just before reaching the harbour area (Beacon Cove).
On route to Peaked Tor Cove, you’ll spot a tall concrete and brick structure which is an old wartime Mine Watcher’s post from where mines protecting Torquay harbour would have been remotely detonated. The old pill box now provides a secure roost for a local colony of Horseshoe Bats.
This is a little known cove and I’d imaging if you were looking for a quiet place to sunbathe in summer then this is an ideal candidate away from the main touristy areas such as the main Torre Abbey Sands opposite Torre Abbey next to the circular bridge which can get very busy. However, if you prefer a sandy beach then stick to Torre Abbey Sands. On this day in September, we had the whole beach to ourselves!
From there, we headed back up the steps on the other side of the beach and re-joined the South West Coast Path, and walked into the harbour. On route you can see some great examples of why our area received international recognition for its rich geological, historical and cultural heritage in 2007 as one of Earth's extraordinary places, becoming one of just 140 areas around the World to be endorsed by UNESCO and welcomed into the Global Geopark Network.
This means our history from the beginning of the Earth, way before dinosaurs is evident throughout the area for all to see so you can explore the area and see how the earth we live in today was created, formed and developed through the ages.
Devon even has a geological period named after it from 400 million years ago when our grey and pink limestone rocks were formed from dying corals and creatures that lived in the tropical seas that covered the area at the time.
310 million years ago the land was changing and the rocks were forced together as the continents moved, causing creasing folds in the rock. An example from our walk is pictured.
By 270 million years ago, this area had turned to desert and the red sand eventually formed sandstone which are the red cliffs you can see looking up from Peaked Tor Cove. This is much softer than limestone which is also in great evidence around our Bay, hence it breaks up more easily and erodes with the force of the sea - and you'll see the destruction of the cliffs for yourself if you take the Babbacombe Cliff Railway down to Oddicombe beach (which itself was built on a gap in the rocks created by a geological fault line).
It wasn't until relatively recently, 500,000 years ago that dinosaurs had appeared. Rainwater and underground streams carved out caves in the rocks which is how Kents Cavern was created. An upper jawbone fragment was found and carbon dated proving it to be the earliest anatomically modern human fossil yet discovered in north western Europe. In comparison, Stone Henge is only 5,000 years old making it relatively modern!
Man then started to populate the Earth, and used the natural resources around him to create a home. The sheltered aspect of Torquay made it a good settlement and in 1196 the monks used the rocks nearby to build the original Torre Abbey which can still be seen in the red sandstone structure.
When the Victorians made Torquay the most fashionable place to visit in Britain, they brought railways and trams, the harbour was built up and the Royal Terrace gardens became the place to be seen promenading. This itself is a sheer cliff face of a major fault line that runs across Devon. This influx of visitors also led to the exploitation of its geological resources in the form of extensive limestone quarrying, in addition to the marble and terracotta industries.
We stopped off when we reached the harbour at Below Decks, an ideal spot with plenty of outdoor seating as well as indoors, for a bite to eat and a drink.
It was then time to wander back. We took a circular route, so we walked up Torwood Street, and turned right at the traffic lights just before one of our recommended restaurants which is Ephesus, serving delicious Greek food.
Follow this road up the hill and onto Meadfoot Road past a recently refurbished old church which for many years was used as a children’s play centre, yet stood derelict for some time, then following a fire, was eventually purchased by a local builder and turned into a stunning private residence. At the time of writing, it’s for sale if any readers have a spare £3.25 million!
At the top of the hill, turn into Parkhill Road and then left onto Daddyhole Road to return to the carpark. There are several possibilities to make your way back, so you might want to take a slightly different route. You could continue onto Meadfoot Beach then turn back and arrive at the carpark from the opposite direction. Alternately you could turn up St Mark’s Road which takes you past the Little Theatre, who put on some great amateur shows throughout the year, many of which we’ve been to over the years. Why not check out what’s on both there and our other local theatres when you next stay with us? Our other thriving theatres are the Princess Theatre, Palace Theatre and Babbacombe Theatre.
I hope you enjoy this walk as much as we did and find the information useful. Do plan your holiday well in advance. Lots of our guests now book up their next break whilst they’re still with us so we have lots of bookings already for the year ahead. If you’re planning to book a specific favourite bedroom or a particular date like to celebrate a birthday or wedding anniversary, then it’s best to book your stay with us as soon as you can to avoid disappointment.
Book now at www.the25.uk We look forward to seeing you soon.