The Harbour is the obvious first port of call for most visitors to Brixham, but if you want to escape the hustle and bustle for a while, it’s worth taking a walk out to Berry Head.
This limestone plateau is the southern protective arm of Torbay (Hope’s Nose is the northern one) and has the sea on three sides, affording wonderful views across Torbay, down the South Devon Coastline towards the mouth of the River Dart, and of course, out to sea.
Limestone has always been a valuable source of stone, and Berry head was extensively quarried for around 300 years, some of which was used in the construction of two Napoleonic Forts here on the headland.
There were supposed to have been 3 forts, but only 2 were built – The Northern and Southern Forts. The outer walls of both survive, but apart from the Guardhouse Café and Visitor Centre, there aren’t many buildings of substance left inside the fort.
The pictures below are of the Southern Fort, two of the Northern Fort and the Guardhouse Café and Visitor Centre.
As you walk along the headland you will soon understand why Berry Head has always been used as a defensive position. From an Iron Age Fort, through Roman times to the 2nd WW there has always been something here to protect these shores. There’s even a Cold War bunker here.
At the end of the promontory, you’ll come to the lighthouse, which at just 5 metres tall (16.4 ft), is Britain’s shortest, but at 58 metres (190 ft) above sea level, is also one of the highest.
Right at the end there is a sheer unfenced drop down into the English Channel so you’ll need to take care, especially in windy conditions. The uninterrupted views out to sea will give you the opportunity to see Bottlenose Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises which are often seen around here, and even the occasional Basking Shark.
This is also a good vantage point to see migrating birds. Some 200 species have been recorded here, but some of them also call this home. Berry Head is home to the largest colony of guillemots on the south coast of England and a bird hide has thoughtfully been provided near to the Visitor Centre. If you’ve forgotten your binoculars you can nip into the Visitor Centre and watch the birds on the webcam instead. There are around a thousand ‘Brixham penguins’ as they are known locally, jockeying for position on the cliff ledges below.
At the bottom of the cliffs are caves which are not only used by seals but are also home to one of the last British bastions of the Greater Horseshoe Bat.
Berry Head is also a National Nature Reserve with around 500 different types of plant and 28 species of butterfly, all looked after by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust (TCCT)
You don’t have to walk out to Berry Head from Brixham because the TCCT has provided a Pay & Display car park, the proceeds of which help to maintain this fabulous part of Torbay from any more quarrying or unwelcome development. If you think it’s too far to walk and you don’t have your own transport, then try and get a lift or take a taxi – just don’t leave Brixham without going out to Berry Head.
POSTED – NOVEMBER 2020