By: Blonde Two
To the east of the other Torbay towns Brixham and Paignton, Torquay sits right on the South West Coast Path and is perfect for local walking if you live in the area. However, if your idea of beach walks is to slip on a pair of flip flops and wander a hundred metres or so, you might be in for a surprise with this one. From Livermead Sands to Maidencombe Beach, Torquay has a whole range of pebbly, sandy and rocky coves and beaches that are explorable on foot, and linked by some fascinating, beautiful and historical sections of the South West Coast Path.
You might want to wear your walking boots for these though because Torquay isn’t the land of flat, sandy shores that I expected when I first moved to Devon over 20 years ago. Walks around Torquay inevitably involve hills (we famously have seven) and our shoreline has far more wooded cliff than it does sandy shores. The Torquay walk I have chosen today is one of my favourite local loops and one that Mr B2 and I have been appreciating from our doorstep during lockdown. It offers a heady mix of woodland, meadow and, most importantly, some of the most fantastic and unexpected sea views I have ever enjoyed. If you are local to Torbay, feel free to enjoy this walk now. If you are visiting in future months, we can thoroughly recommend a break from beach sitting, if you really want to appreciate our fantastic section of the South West Coast Path.
Starting your Torquay beach walk
The great thing about this walk is that you can start it anywhere and get to your starting point on foot or bicycle from all over Torquay. The walk is 5 kilometres (2 hours with stops) so if that’s enough distance for you the buses (including an open topped one) between Torquay town and Babbacombe will be able to drop you off nearby, or there is a car park at the top of the slope down to Anstey’s Cove SX 934 644. I will start the walk description there.
Copyright Ordnance Survey 2020
Anstey’s Cove – Meadfoot Beach
On a sunny day you would be hard pushed to find two more beautiful beaches in Devon. I have included the steep walk down the steps to Anstey’s Cove in this route because this is one of Torbay’s most picturesque spots. Popular with SUP enthusiasts, this rocky cove is known for its blue, blue seas, exciting rock formations and occasional seal sightings. Wild swimming off Anstey’s Cove is wonderful but we are on a walk today and you can always come back later.
Once you have returned from the cove and got your breath back at the top of the steps, walk down the meadow next to the car park. You may be lucky here and find the community cafe open. If not, there are shops in Wellswood Village (turn right). Our walk takes us to the left, down the road and then onto the Green where you can choose between a stroll down the gentle grass slope or an explore through the woods. Either way you will end up at Meadfoot Beach with its views of Thatcher Rock (think Famous Five and Kirrin Island rather than Margaret) and the flat-topped Ore Stone. We join the South West Coast Path here and head east but there is a fantastic beach cafe (and a loo) along to the west.
Meadfoot Beach – Anstey’s Cove
The signs for the Coast Path will take you initially up the road past the traffic lights but after that there is a lovely clifftop loop with a great view point of Thatcher’s Rock before you reach the signs for Hope’s Nose (an SSSI and worth an explore if you don’t mind an additional hill). Walking downhill from the entrance to Hope’s Nose, look out for the South West Coast Path signs and turn along what is known locally as Bishop’s Walk. This walk and the Palace Hotel (just up the road from Anstey’s Cove if you are quick enough, it is being demolished for development as I type) have a very interesting local history. Bishop’s Walk takes you through the trees back round to Anstey’s Cove. It offers some tantalising glimpses of Babbacombe Bay on the way and pleasure in the shade on a hot day.
I haven’t included Walls Hill in this route but if you are a trig point collector you might like to take the short walk up to it (be prepared to hunt for your trig pillar). At 86 metres above sea level, Walls Hill feels higher, and offers a great opportunity to look back down on Anstey’s Cove. Don’t be tempted to take the closed cliff path back down to Anstey’s and Redgate Beach from here. Redgate looks very tempting but is prone to rock falls and we have rescues here most summers. Walls Hill is a popular Torquay dog walking spot and offers an opportunity to let your dog off the lead for a run around (I wouldn’t recommend this on the rest of this walk).
There you go, you’ve made it. 5 kilometres of a local Torquay walk that many visitors don’t ever get the chance to see. Torbay might bustle with visitors during the summer months, and you will find the beaches fairly busy during July and August but the majority of people don’t venture along our lovely section of the South West Coast Path. They are definitely missing out on a perfect English Riviera walking opportunity.