Dittisham to Totnes
Dartmouth to Brixham
Local Walk - Brixham to Babbacombe
Finish: Babbacombe Distance: 13 Miles
If you are expecting the walk through the English Riviera to be a trudge along pavements, you are in for a pleasant surprise. You may not actually spot any of the famous coral fossils of Hope’s Nose, but you cannot fail to notice the extraordinary geology along this stretch of coast. The Path passes around the limestone peninsula of Berry Head and wave cut platforms of red sandstone at Shoalstone into the thriving fishing port of Brixham where your walk begins. The hustle and bustle of Brixham’s port is soon left behind as you head through woodland and past some lovely beaches to emerge on the edge of Paignton. The Path along Paignton and Torquay sea fronts is very easy as it runs along promenades, from which you can easily find refreshments and other distractions. From here on, views of the rich red Devon sandstone rocks towering above the sea draw you through the urban landscapes with promise of exhilarating cliff walks ahead. Leaving bustling Torquay harbour behind, the Path becomes surprisingly rural and rugged, passing golden beaches and headlands on its way to the gardens of Babbacombe Downs.
• Watching the trawlers coming and going in Brixham harbour.
• Enjoying the fine many fine rock formations that have led to this section of Coast being designated an Unesco Geopark. The geopark consists of 32 sites which between them cover 3 geological time periods and no less than 400 million years of earth history. Raised beaches and drowned forests tell of changing sea levels while the distinctive Torbay limestones are a record of coral-filled tropical seas. The South West Coast Path is the ideal way to view and discover much of the geopark as about three quarters of the sites lie along its route. These include Babbacombe Cliff, Hope’s Nose, Berry Head, Sharkham Point and Walls Hill.
• Fishcombe Cove: It was on this small, secluded shingle beach that William of Orange landed a crew of 20,000 men in 1688. A statue to him stands at Brixham Quay.
• Exploring the rock pools on the long sandy beach of Broadsands. Look out for the steam trains crossing the viaduct. You may want to take a visit to the Seashore Centre where you can find out more about the local marine life. Entrance is free.
• Playing the slots on a traditional seaside pier at Paignton. The pier, which is 780 ft (236 metres) long, was first opened to the public in 1879 and has hosted many forms of classic English seaside entertainment including the famous Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera HMS Pinafore.
• Visiting Torquay’s coastal zoo Living Coasts, where you can get nose to beak with a penguin and have an underwater view of puffins hunting for fish. For admission details tel: 01803 202470.
• Keeping a look out for the commemorative plaques along Torquay’s Agatha Christie Mile. The famous crime writer was born in Torquay in 1890 and went on to base many of her books around the English Riviera.
• The view from the 350 million-year-old Devonian limestone of Hopes Nose across to Thatcher’s Rock and the many nesting seabirds.
• Walking through the woodland around Black Head.
• Babbacombe: A small village in its own right, Babbacombe offers a quieter alternative to the bustle of Torquay. The pier, which was built in 1889, is often populated by fishermen. Views from Babbacombe Downs reach out across Lyme Bay to Dorset, and Portland Bill is even visible on clear days.
• Walking from Babbacombe Downs to Oddicombe Beach and taking a ride on Babbacombe’s historic cliff railway. Open from Easter until Whitsun - 9.30am to 5.00pm and Whitsun until 30 September - 9.30am to 5.30pm.
Interesting places close to the path:
• Torre Abbey: After 3 years of restoration, visitors can now access some previously unseen areas of the Abbey, which was founded in 1196. There are fine art galleries, beautiful gardens and a medieval tithe barn, which was used by Sir Francis Drake to contain 397 Spanish prisoners. For further details tel: 01803 293 593
• Kent’s Cavern: A Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the spectacular geology, the cave is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument as excavations have revealed extraordinary relics of Stone Age man. Open daily. For details tel: 01803 215136
• Babbacombe Model Village: See thousands of intricate model buildings, people, vehicles and railways capturing the essence of England’s past, present and future, all set within four acres of quirky award-winning gardens. Open daily. For details tel: 01803 315315
Public transport information:
There is a mainline train station at Totnes and Newton Abbot and from these towns you can take one of a number of buses into Torbay. The Stagecoach Devon number 111 service runs regularly between Totnes and Torquay and the number 12 Stagecoach service runs very regularly between Newton Abbot and Brixham. There are also regular trains from Newton Abbot to Paignton and Torquay. The number 12 bus service runs every 10 minutes or so between Brixham and Torquay, stopping at Broadsands, Goodrington, Paignton and Livermead. For further details visit Traveline or phone 0870 6082608.
You can buy locally produced food for a picnic at the beginning of the day in Brixham from The West Country Deli on Fore Street. Further on, refreshments are available throughout the Torbay resorts of Paignton and Torquay. Torquay has a wide range of restaurants, shops, pubs and cafes. Establishments that serve local produce include Taste of the West members: Azure@ Living Coasts on the Beacon Quay, tel: 01803 202499, The Orchid Restaurant in The Corbyn Head Hotel, on the Sea Front, tel: 01803 296366 and The Elephant Bar and Restaurant, 3-4 Beacon Terrace, Harbourside, tel: 01803 200044. Additional refreshments can be found in Babbacombe.