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Top 10 Coastal Walks

Brixham

The quaint fishing town of Brixham has much more to offer than first appears. Although Brixham is known for its world-famous fish market, colourful town houses and bustling harbour, the town also has some fantastic walks along the coastline, filled with stunning sea views, wildlife watching and historical importance.

1. Battery Gardens to Brixham Harbour

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a steep walk from the top of the hill down towards the sea. There are concrete paths the whole way round with numerous stairs.

The Battery Gardens has one of the most panoramic views in the Bay and is a great location to watch the annual English Riviera Airshow. The gardens are a natural landscape of trees and grass, and in spring it becomes a sea of bluebells and snowdrops. In Autumn, the ground turns orange with a covering of crisp autumn leaves. With footpaths throughout the park, it is a great place to walk in all seasons.

The Battery Gardens are so named as this area was once a World War II Battery point and the now protected land is of significant historical and archaeological value. Along your walk you will see many shelters used by the Brixham Home Guard during WWII. The Battery Gardens is also host to the Brixham Battery Museum, an educational centre run by volunteers, for the general public to learn about the history of the site.

Start your walk at the top of the gardens on Northfields Lane and follow the network of paths to wander down towards the sea, leading to Fishcombe Cove – a sheltered pebble beach, popular with wild swimmers. The cove is surrounded by tall cliffs and wooded hillsides and is a great escape from the crowds of Brixham town. Stop at the Fishcombe Cove Café to stop for lunch or pick up a takeaway coffee for your journey.

Continue following the paths to the east to open out onto a large seafront green with stunning sea views and a series of benches to rest your feet and take in the view. Follow the footpath through to a tree lined track which runs alongside the cliff edge to a set of stairs. From the stairs, follow the footpath along the calm seafront which will take you alongside the busy Brixham Fish Market and finish in Brixham Harbour where you can enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the heart England’s Seafood Coast. Try a light lunch at Simply Fish or Rockfish who both serve some of the freshest local fish and shellfish in the area.

2. Brixham Harbour to Breakwater Beach

Difficulty: Easy

This is a short, level walk along tarmacked paths and offers spectacular views across Brixham Marina and towards Torquay. Along this walk you will get a real sense of the community of Brixham and the connection between locals and the sea.

Begin your walk in Brixham town centre, why not pop to The Curious Kitchen to pick up an artisan coffee for your journey. Head towards the harbour with the full-sized replica ship, The Golden Hind and past the William of Orange statue, erected in 1889. Follow the curve of the harbour round to the East and towards the Man and Boy statue, which was created by local Brixham sculptress Elisabeth Hadley and unveiled in 2016 to honour the many fisherman of Brixham. Past the statue, you will see Brixham Marina, housing boats large and small, and the local RNLI coastguard station which serves the whole Bay. Follow the path to the local gig rowing clubhouse and past the Brixham Breakwater to finish on Breakwater Beach.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not walk all the way down to the end of the Brixham Breakwater to see the lighthouse – walking to the end and back is half a mile and you will get a very different view of the Bay from the end! There is a ramp at the start and no stairs, so it is accessible to all.

Breakwater Beach in Brixham is one of the three Blue Flag beaches on the English Riviera. It is one of the cleanest beaches in the Bay, with sparkling turquoise water and white pebbles. There is disabled access with adjoining parking facilities, meaning everyone can enjoy it. With some of the warmest and calmest waters in the country, Breakwater Beach is also popular with wild swimmers and scuba divers. If you do take the plunge, you can expect to see rare seagrass beds, seahorses, fish and even the odd shipwreck.

Finish your walk with a treat at the Breakwater Bistro, with panoramic sea views, excellent service and delicious food using local produce.

3. Brixham Harbour to Berry Head

Difficulty: Moderate

This walk begins on smooth tarmacked roads, but later includes steep forest paths.

Beginning at the picturesque harbourside in Brixham, this walk takes you onwards to the marina and Breakwater Beach. The gentle level walk along the breakwater leads to a lighthouse and then a ten-minute walk to Shoalstone Pool. Follow the coast path next to Shoalstone Pool and up to the road near the Berry Head Hotel. Continue past the Hotel, and you will see a wooden gate leading up to a forest. This section will take you uphill into the woodlands at the spectacular Berry Head Nature Reserve. This is the area’s most important wildlife site and a UNESCO Global Geopark, one of only seven in the country.

After a 5-minute walk, you will come out of the woodlands and be greeted with dramatic panoramic views across the English Riviera and beyond. Follow the path to take you into the old Napoleonic War Forts. This internationally acclaimed heritage site is home to a fascinating variety of wildlife and history. Pop into the Visitor Centre in the middle of the forts to find out more. Walk the ramparts as the soldiers did 200 years ago, watch the guillemot colony screech, or see if you can spot some of the famous Berry Head dolphins.

At the end of the forts is the Berry Head lighthouse – the shortest, but also the highest in the UK!

Refresh after your walk with a stop at the award-winning Guardhouse Café with some fabulous local produce and spectacular sea views.

Paignton

Paignton is in the centre of the English Riviera and offers long sandy beaches, adventurous woodland walks and stunning views over the Bay. Here are our favourite coastal walks around Paignton.

4. Roundham Head to Broadsands

Difficulty: Hard

This walk follows the coast path and includes some rocky paths and steep slopes. It would not be suitable for those who are less mobile.

Begin at Roundham Head, this headland between Paignton Harbour and Goodrington Sands offers panoramic views through the pine and sycamore trees right across the English Riviera. This area is designated a Site of Special Interest and is managed by Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust. There’s ample seating dotted along the footpath beside the vast open coastal parkland of Roundham Gardens. Follow the path in a southerly direction towards Rock Walk, a cliffside garden with an impressive display of semi-tropical plants and winding paths to Goodrington Sands. Wander along the long sandy beach, or the adjacent promenade and large open green and lake. Stop here for a coffee or snack at the award-winning Cantina Kitchen. Continue along the beaches and hear the steam trains whistle as the Dartmouth Steam Railway runs alongside the beach. On the other side of the railway, you might notice the waterpark, Splashdown Quaywest which is popular with both visitors and locals for cooling off in the summer months. Follow the coast path round for more stunning sea views and hidden coves.

The coast path will open and give you a stunning view of the picturesque Broadsands Beach. Refresh after your walk with lunch at the Broadsands Bistro.

5. Broadsands to Churston Ferrers

Difficulty: Moderate

This walk begins with a flat tarmacked walk near Broadsands Beach but turns into rocky coast paths through woodlands with some small inclines.

Begin at Broadsands Beach, Paignton and take in the atmospheric sight of Dartmouth Steam Railway trains passing leisurely over Brunel’s railway viaduct on the way. There is a large car park at Broadsands, perfect if you’ve got your own transport. Broadsands Beach is lined with pastel coloured beach huts and has public toilets and two cafes: the newly renovated, upmarket Broadsands Bistro with panoramic views of the beach and the takeaway kiosk, great for grabbing an ice cream before you start your walk.

Follow the coast path south easterly, over the large open green with sea views and towards the sheltered shingle beach at Elberry Cove. You’ll be able to spot the remains of Lord Churston’s seawater bath house at the far end of the beach, also a favourite bathing place of Agatha Christie. Onwards through Elberry, Marridge Woods and the Grove Woods, where the woodland area is extensive and includes ruined limekilns and some forestry tracks.

Following the route across Churston Golf Club means you will finish at the idyllic village of Churston Ferrers. A great place to visit for lunch is the Churston Manor, a country house hotel, bar and restaurant with the unique attribute of being a 17th century manor house.  The décor is uniquely historical with suits of armour, roaring log fires and swords crossed over the mantelpiece. Locally sourced produce is served on the menu with excellent service.

6. Paignton Sands to Preston Sands

Difficulty: Easy

This walk features wide, smooth tarmac paths throughout and no gradients.

This short, accessible walk begins at Paignton Harbour. Follow the path towards Paignton Sands, a long sandy beach with a promenade next to it. On your left you will see the Pirates Bay Adventure Golf where you can stop and enjoy a game of crazy golf during your meander. Past Vue Cinema, you will see the Geopark Play Centre, perfect for entertaining the little ones. Take a walk up Paignton Pier to see the beach from a new perspective, or to play on the arcade games! When the tide is out, you are able to walk between Paignton Sands and Preston Sands on the beach itself, however when the tide is in, it is a short walk around the Redcliffe Hotel to join Preston Sands on the other side.

Finish your walk with some refreshments at The Boathouse, with its stunning seafront views and an extensive menu, you will find something for everyone.

Torquay

When you think of Torquay you often think of its busy harbour, iconic palm trees or international marina, but there’s a reason why the English Riviera is a UNESCO Global Geopark! Discover the hidden wilderness to Torquay in our recommended coastal walks.

7. Thatcher Point to Anstey’s Cove

Difficulty: Hard

This walk features rocky coast paths and steep slopes which might not be suitable for those who are less mobile.

The route has been voted one of the top 50 walks in the UK and deservedly so as the views are simply spectacular. Walking along this area, it is easy to see why the English Riviera is a recognised UNESCO Global Geopark.

Begin your walk on the exclusive, upmarket Ilsham Marine Drive, leading to the spectacular Thatcher Point. The large open green leads down to Thatcher Point which provides close-up views of the small, guillemot-inhabited island called Thatcher Rock with breath-taking views over the Bay – and a great place for picnics! The island is one of Torquay’s most well-known landmarks and is made up of Devonian limestone over 350 million years old.

Either follow Ilsham Marine Drive around the coastline or look out for the South West Coast Path and continue it easterly and north-easterly towards Hope’s Nose. Hope’s Nose is a bit of a detour for this route, but it is definitely worth it for the views alone! Be careful – the route to Hope’s Nose is steep. Both Thatcher Point and Hope’s Nose are an area of protruding coastline with limestone rocks and fossils and can only be accessed on foot, making it a favourite spot for keen walkers, nature lovers and anglers.

Follow the coast path again a little further along Ilsham Marine Drive to join The Bishop’s Walk. The Bishop’s Walk emerges at Anstey’s Cove car park and through woodlands heading towards Anstey’s Cove. The woodlands leading to the Cove is a fairly steep path. Ansteys Cove can be seen through the trees as you approach it with the headland of Walls Hill and sculpted point of Long Quarry Point appearing. The sheltered beach is popular with kayakers and those who enjoy coasteering. Refresh after your walk with a bite to eat at Anstey’s Cove Beach Café and enjoy the stunning sea views.

8. Beacon Cove to Meadfoot Beach

Difficulty: Moderate.

This walk has some steep slopes and steps which might not be suitable for those who are less mobile.

Begin at Millennium Bridge on Torquay Harbour and pass through Beacon Cove, once known as the Ladies Bathing Cove and a favourite swimming spot of Agatha Christie. Follow the coast path and take in the views, passing The Imperial Hotel, perched elegantly on the cliffside.

At the top of the steps, you can see an old wartime Mine Watcher’s post where mines used to be detonated and there is also an old pill box which now hosts a local colony of Horseshoe Bats. As you ascend the path you will have a breath-taking view of London Bridge Arch, a limestone natural sea arch that has developed over time.

Onwards through the woodland area and the winding footpath leading towards Daddyhole Plain there are plenty of resting places to take in more spectacular views of the bay.

Daddyhole Plain is one of only three limestone plateaux on the English Riviera. Look out for a number of rare plants including white rock rose and ivy broomrape, a reddish-purple plant with cream flowers which flourish in this spot.

Consider a short break at the Headland Hotel for a refreshing drink or lunch and to take in the dramatic coastal views before continuing on to Meadfoot Beach with its rocky, sandy and shingle cliffs. You can return either by bus or on foot by following Meadfoot Sea Road back to Torquay harbour.

9. Princess Gardens to Corbyn Head

Difficulty: Easy

This seafront walk around Torquay is on wide, smooth tarmacked pavements with no large gradients.

Explore Torquay seafront and begin at Princess Gardens and enjoy the well-manicured flowerbeds, promenade lined with palm trees and ornate water fountain. The Princess Gardens feature in one of Agatha Christie’s most popular mysteries, ‘The ABC Murders’ (1936), a central character called Mr Alexander Bonaparte Cust sits in a shelter facing Torquay Harbour reading the paper, only to read about a murder.

Follow the seafront promenade around to Princess Pier. Why not take a stroll up the Pier and enjoy the sea views over Torquay? Princess Pier was also a key part of Agatha Christie’s life in Torquay – it was her favourite place to roller skate with her friends.

Continue around the seafront, and if you’re feeling fit, why not walk up Rock Walk, also known as Royal Terrace Gardens for a fabulous viewpoint over the English Riviera? Stop off for refreshments in one of the upmarket eateries along Abbey Sands, where there is a choice of restaurants including Las Iguanas, Visto Lounge, Bistrot Pierre and Costa Coffee.

Wander along the large sandy beach Torre Abbey Sands, or cross the road and visit the Italian Gardens with it’s charming pond and fabulous gardens. As you continue around the seafront, you will finish at Corbyn Head, a quiet headland that offers fantastic views over the English Riviera.

10. South West Coast Path – 22 miles

Difficulty: Hard

This walk is hard, with steep slopes and rocky paths.

The English Riviera has 22 miles of stunning coastline and is enclosed by the South West Coast Path. The South West Coast Path, originally created by coastguards looking out for smugglers, is now a popular destination for visitors who enjoy exploring the outdoors, taking in the fresh West Country air, and meeting other keen ramblers and walkers along the route. The health benefits of being active and taking regular walks are well known, plus many areas are dog-friendly and wheelchair accessible too.

If you’re planning this epic outdoor walking adventure you might like to consider purchasing “Walks Along the South West Coast Path – Exmouth to Dartmouth” from the English Riviera Visitor Information Centre to accompany you, or go to the South West Coast Path website to find out more details.

The South West Coast Path has spectacular sea views, and a number of eateries to stop at for a break and is a great way of immersing yourself in the English Riviera.