Between Meadfoot Beach and Babbacombe is one of Torquay’s most exclusive areas. Centred on Thatcher Avenue, the area is known locally as Millionaire’s Row, but you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy what is arguably the most interesting part of the Torquay coastline.
This area of Torbay is as good as anywhere to understand why the English Riviera was given status as a UNESCO Global Geopark, one of only seven locations in the UK. Kent’s Cavern is the best place to begin discovering what all this means, and if you want to find out how the area gave its name to the Devonian Period, check out my post, Kent’s Cavern and the English Riviera Geopark.
My previous Torquay post was From Torquay Harbour to Meadfoot Beach, and at the far end of Meadfoot Beach turning right into Ilsham Marine Drive will bring you up to Kilmorie, a development of luxury apartments built in the 1960s, described by the company who owns it in a language that only developers and estate agents can, but to most other people it’s an incongruous eyesore. As the road winds up to the top though, it will soon become obvious why people with money would want to buy property here. For us ordinary folk we can at least enjoy a piece of the lifestyle by wandering down the large green open space that leads to Thatcher Point where there are close-up views of the small rocky island known as Thatcher Rock. If you’re into picnics, this is a place to bring one.
The island is one of Torquay’s best-known landmarks, and apparently gets its name from the fact that somebody thought one of the outcrops resembled a thatcher working on the roof of a Devon cottage. What is more definite is that the rock is made up of Devonian limestone, 350 million years old, and has a raised beach 25ft above today’s sea level.
Ilsham Marine Drive continues around the coastline, but look out for a path that leads down to Hope’s Nose. A map will show you that the crescent-shaped ‘Tor Bay’ stretches from Berry Head around to Hope’s Nose, but whereas Berry Head is easy to walk out to, the path down to Hope’s Nose is a bit more difficult to negotiate. That said, it’s unlikely that you’ll be on your own when you get down to this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because it’s a popular spot with anglers.
Apart from being a good place to catch fish, the limestone pavement is also a good place to find coral fossils, but I must book an appointment with Specsavers as I haven’t come across any yet.
This same limestone also has carbonate veins which when treated with strong acid reveals a web of gold branches. Associated with this gold are two rare minerals – selenium and palladium. Don’t expect to find any gold here now though because collectors have seen to that, but if you really are keen to see what this gold looks like, there are examples in the Natural History Museum in London.
Even if you’re not a person who is interested in geology or fishing, Hope’s Nose is still worth a clamber down to. With views across to the Lead Stone and Ore Stone ahead of you, Thatcher Rock to your right and Anstey’s Cove to the left, it’s worth coming down just for the views alone.
Below are some images taken around Hope’s Nose.
You can pick up the coast path again a bit further along Ilsham Marine Drive. This part of the path is known as the Bishop’s Walk, named after Lord Bishop Henry Philpotts of Exeter who built Bishopstowe, a large mansion, in 1841. In 1921 the mansion was converted into the luxury Palace Hotel, which is now in the process of being demolished in preparation for a new five-star resort spa which should be completed by 2023.
The Bishop’s Walk emerges at the car park above Anstey’s Cove, and even though it means walking down a fairly steep path to reach the cove it’s worth it. Sheltered by Long Quarry Point, Anstey’s Cove is popular with kayakers and those who enjoy coasteering, but it’s usually pretty quiet, and if the little café is open, a good place to end this section of the coast path.
This area of Torquay is a quiet part of town, and whether the Devonian limestone rocks hold any interest to you or not, it’s a part of the bay that is a pleasure to visit for anyone who prefers a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the harbour – and who knows? If you find any of that gold at Hopes Nose, you might even be able to afford a house up on Thatcher Avenue as well.
ORIGINAL POST – APRIL 2019
LATEST UPDATE – DECEMBER 2020