Walk - Berry Head to Sharkham Point

1.6 miles (2.7 km)

Berry Head Car Park - TQ5 9AP Sharkham Point

Moderate - A fairly easy walk, with only gentle ascents and descents, although some of the paths are quite uneven.

A walk with spectacular views taking in the Berry Head National Nature Reserve.

To check that this walk is suitable for you click here where you can find additional mapping and photographs showing gradients, path surfaces, and other detailed information.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Westbury Guest House

A 14th century Georgian Guest House with great charm and character. Short level walk from the harbour, pubs and restaurants.

Sea Tang Guest House

Friendly, family run guest house located a few steps form the sea with beautiful views across Torbay.

The Smugglers Haunt Hotel

This property is a 11-minute walk from the beach. Smugglers Haunt Hotel is a 300-year old building in the charming fishing town of Brixham.

Beacon House B&B

Nestled in the harbour bowl, we command breathtaking views of harbour, marina and beyond the breakwater, 4 x en suite bedrooms, sumptuous breakfast. A warm welcome awaits.

Brixham House

A friendly welcome, renowned for excellent breakfasts, approx 10 minute walk from the Coast Path and also on the bus route.

The Clifton at Paignton

Steve and Freda look forward to welcoming you to the Clifton, which is ideally located, just off the sea front. Around the corner from shops and stations. Within easy reach of Dartmoor.

The Haldon Guest House

Situated 3 minutes walk from Paignton beach, pier and town centre, we are ideally located for exploring the beautiful English Riviera and beyond. Tasty breakfast and a sunny garden.

Eight Bells B&B

Variety of breakfasts with a stunning view. On waterfront, a few minutes from the Coast Path. 1 double, 1 family room. Both ensuite. Sleeps 6 max.

Camelot B&B

Set back from the harbour with easy, quick access to all the attractions of Dartmouth. Tel: 01803 833805 / 07870 665863 or email [email protected] for more details.

Cladda House B&B and Self catering Apartments

Cladda House- en-suite B&B rooms, Super King Double, Twin or Standard Double. Also Self Catering Apartments.

Payge Stay Torquay

A beautiful, luxurious seaview Apartment in the exclusive area of Meadfoot, Torquay. Sleeps 2

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

The Guardhouse Cafe

Home-made seasonal food, cream teas and delicious coffee, all served with a smile and stunning views from our cliff-top Napoleonic Fortress. Weary walkers welcome!

Terrace Cafe Bar at Living Coasts

Free entry for non-visitors. Come in anytime for family friendly, freshly prepared local food & drink with panoramic views over the Bay.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Paignton Zoo

Over 2000 animals spread across 80 acres, you're in for a really wild time. Rain or shine, enjoy a fun-filled day out.

Living Coasts

Playful Penguins, Otters, Octopus, Seals and much more. Cafe with panoramic sea views- free for non-visitors

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

The walk starts at Berry Head which can be reached on foot from Brixham (roughly a 30 minute walk) if you are travelling by bus. Before heading off towards Sharkham Point, take some time to explore the headland - Torbay's most important wildlife site and one of England's 200 National Nature Reserves. Berry Head, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, is an extensive limestone headland.

There are several species of rare and threatened plants here, including Early Gentian, White Rock-Rose, Honewort, Small Hare's Ear, Restharrow and Goldilock's Aster which are dependent upon the thin soils, mild climate and exposed conditions of the headland. The patchwork of grassland and scrub is also important for small bird species. The Guillemot colony on the cliffs below the Southern Fort is one of the UK's largest and live CCTV pictures of the colony from a camera mounted on the cliffs can be seen in the Visitor Centre.

At the end of Berry Head, beyond the coastguard station, is the lighthouse which was built in 1906. It came to be known as the smallest, highest and deepest light in the British Isles. The tower is only 5 metres high. It is, however, 58 metres above the sea at high water. The optic was originally turned by the action of a weight falling down a 45m deep shaft, now made redundant by a small motor. Its white light flashes twice every 15 seconds and can be seen for 19 nautical miles.

  1. The start of the walk proper is the Berry Head Car Park entrance. With the fort to your left, the Coast Path follows the road briefly before branching off to the left.

Early spring bluebells and a raven’s nest in the “gorge” add flavour to this sheltered section.

  1. Climbing the stile (and leaving the Country Park) the Path acts as the inland boundary of the Berry Head-Sharkham Point Site of Special Scientific Interest.

To seaward the coastal grassland provides home for nationally important flowers and birds. Early autumn walkers will enjoy patches of the bright yellow Goldilocks Aster, which is found at only one other site in the UK. The landward patchwork of pasture and Holiday camps may not be everyone’s cup of tea but this readily accessible section will be many tens of thousands of people's first taste of walking The National Trail.

A pair of benches fronted by iron railings provide a superb viewpoint for St Mary’s Bay. The cliff behind is a wonderfully complex series of slip planes and dense scrub, marking a change in geology from the massive Devonian limestones of Berry Head. Here mudstones and shales succumb to the force of winter storms.

  1. The route now gradually climbs around the back of the bay giving constantly changing views of both headlands. A short bridge marks the point at which a large landslide closed this section for over a year, and provides another handy viewpoint. A surprisingly strenuous series of steps and slopes brings you to the access for the beach.

You may wish to detour down another set of steps if you want to paddle or hunt for fossils in the beach pebbles.

  1. Continuing on the Coast Path brings another stile and the entrance to Sharkham Point.

Beneath its cloak of tress and grass Sharkham hides a rich industrial heritage. Through the late 18th and early 19th century it was home to a thriving iron oxide paint industry, the finished product being shipped all over the world. In the 20th century these excavations became a municipal dump! Now capped and grassed Sharkham provides the quiet antidote to Berry Head's bustle.

Once you’ve explored this headland the return journey beckons. If its not too late the Guardhouse Café at Berry Head does a very nice cream tea!

Public transport

For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Berry Head (pay and display) (Postcode for Sat Navs: TQ5 9AH). Sharkham Point.

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