Friday, 2 June 2017

Walking from Brixham to Berry Head and beyond

I'm glad we made the most of yesterday's glorious weather by packing up sandwiches and heading out on a walk. We decided to take advantage of the Western Lady ferry connection between Torquay and Brixham which, at just £3 for a return ticket, is excellent value - cheaper than the bus and quicker too! We got great views across Torbay from the water and there was even a commentary on the way out drawing passengers' attention to the main sights.

Torquay and Brixham harbours were both very busy due to it being half-term holiday week, but once we ascended up to the streets above, everything quietened. I liked seeing older buildings such as a row of stone fishermen's cottages and the grandeur of Wolborough House. We followed a narrowing road out of town until we spotted our footpath leading through woods towards Berry Head. It was actually pleasant to get out of the sun into dappled shade for a while as we continued uphill.

View from the coast path 
The South West Coast Path is reasonably well signposted and affords gorgeous views out to sea. It is also less undulating here than at other sections along its route so not such hard work to walk! I loved the occasional stone stiles which are apparently left-over from the Coast Path's original function as a coastguards' walk. They would patrol the top of the cliffs looking out for smugglers! Now the Coast Path is the longest National Trail with a total length of 630 miles. Yesterday's we only covered about 3-4 miles each way towards the headland at Sharkham Point.

En route we diverted to explore each of the two Napoleonic forts at Berry Head. Human inhabitation on Berry Head dates back to at least the Iron Age and even more ancient history can been seen by examining the fort stones for fossils. The Napoleonic forts, North and South, were built between 1795 and 1805 when England was at war with France. The southern site now has an interesting small visitor centre which has historical exhibits and information about the varied local flora and fauna. There is also a nice cafe here and a bird hide overlooking seabird colonies on the cliffs.

Napoleonic fort at Berry Head 

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