Sunday, 13 July 2014

Coast: Brixham to Paignton - part 2

Continuing from Coast: Brixham to Paignton - part 1: the walk from Churston Cove, a rocky bay of almost Mediterranean appearance, to Paignton via a succession of headlands and increasingly commercialised bays.

The path climbs out of Churston Cove, revealing a vista back to Brixham breakwater and Berry Head, then continues on a largely straight stretch through Marridge Woods, with Churston Golf Course on one side and craggy wooded cliffs, sometimes sheer drop, on the other. The trees obscure the nature of the coastline here, but much of it is not natural; as the information boards explain, it's down to historical limestone quarrying in the 'Seven Quarries' that were the source of much of Torbay's building stone in the 19th century.

1898 OS map. Historic map data is (© and database right
Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Ltd. (All rights reserved
2009). Low-resolution image reproduced for small-scale non-profit
use under the terms described in the Old Maps FAQ.

Marridge Woods
From Marridge Woods you emerge on to the pebble-beached Elberry Cove, with its ruin of Lord Churston's 18th century bath-house (there are some nice pictures at - Lord Churston's Bath House, Elberry cove, South Devon, 04/09/10). Another peculiarity of the place is its undersea freshwater springs. The Torbay Coast Path guide says they can be seen on calm days "bubbling through the salt sea water", but it seems they're mostly only visible to divers. Elberry Cove was also a favourite bathing-spot of Agatha Christie, who made it the location for the death of Sir Carmichael Clarke in The ABC Murders.

From Elberry Cove, a broad grassy headland takes you over to Broadsands, an arc of sandy beach backed by beach huts (the area behind the promenade was reclaimed from marsh within the past few decades). Here there are kiosks and toilets. At the northern end, the path cuts inland to go under the South Devon Railway viaduct, then runs parallel to the railway. The Torbay Coast Path guide notes that this section is
... not a great distance, but it is raher difficult and involves a number of steps, up and down ...
This is because the path follows the pre-railway terrain, not the track bed level. On the plus side, however, the path gains considerable height, and excellent views open up back toward Berry Head.


Berry Head - itself the site of former quarrying
The railway stretch of the Coast Path, via a couple of stiff ascents and descents, takes you down to Goodrington beach, which is more or less divided into two by a Premier Inn. Goodrington Sands South is fairly commercialised, with amusements and a water slide complex. Goodrington Sands North is rather more genteel, with a park, swan boats, and above the beach huts, the pleasant Goodrington Cliff Gardens (otherwise called Paradise Gardens). These date from 1929-1931, and were created as part of a general project to stabilise the cliff. The Garden's criss-crossing paths take you to the summit of Roundham Head. On the other side of this, Paignton Pier and Torquay come into view, and it's a short walk down to the harbour and sea-front, and the train home.

- Ray

Roundham Head comes into view

One of those flights of steps

The descent to Goodrington Sands

Goodrington Cliff Gardens

Paignton Pier in sight

Paignton Harbour

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