Walk - Daddyhole Plain

1.9 miles (3.1 km)

Daddyhole Plain car park TQ1 2LJ Daddyhole Plain

Moderate - A short stroll with some steep ascent and descent in places, including steps.

This walk around one of Torbay's three limestone plateaux gives great views of the Bay and the harbour. It travels through an area once formally cultivated by Victorian gardeners but now preserved as a wildlife conservation area, rich in rare plants and with its own colony of the nationally endangered horseshoe bats in a former wartime lookout post. Children will love the dramatic outlook over the cliffs and the London Bridge rock arch, as well as the adventure playground feel of the route. Watch out for the Devil in his limestone cave!

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.

Bay Torbay Hotel

Superb location close to marina, opposite the promenade where you can join the Coast Path. indoor swimming pool, two bars, cafe & snack bar, and lovely sun terrace.

Millbrook Guest House, Torquay

All rooms ensuite, wi-fi & on-site parking. Garden. Guest lounge with TV & conservatory. 800m flat level walk to the sea front.

Garway Lodge Guest House, Torquay

Adults Only,4 Star Silver Award Licenced Guest House. Single, Double and Twin rooms. Award winning breakfast available, including special diets.

Aveland House

Situated in Babbacombe close to the South West Coast Path. All en-suite rooms,Free Wi Fi. See our website www.avelandhouse.co.uk for more details

Coastguard Cottage, Babbacombe

Small, cosy cottage accommodatioon with all rooms en-suite and with wifi.  Close to many amenities. A substantial breakfast is provided.07780661381 [email protected]

The Cary Arms & Spa

The Cary Arms & Spa “Inn on the Beach” exudes charm, style and comfort of a boutique hotel. Seaside English Heritage dining with chic rooms include dog-friendly accommodation.

The Haldon Guest House, Paignton

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 to enjoy a cream tea in.

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.

Bay Esplanade Hotel

Overlooking Paignton Beach, close to the Pier. Traditional seaside stay on the English Riviera, a few minutes from the town centre with fabulous views of the bay from the hotel’s informal lounge and bar areas.

Elberry Farm B&B, Broadsands

Uniquely situated just a few minutes from the Coast Path, this working farm offers you a home from home stay. Comfortable rooms with hospitality trays, TV all en suite. A hearty breakfast.  Our garden offers a peaceful haven.

Sea Tang Guesthouse, Brixham

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

Beacon House B&B,Brixham

Nestled in the harbour bowl of this historic fishing town, Beacon House commands breathtaking views of the inner harbour, marina and beyond the breakwater. A warm welcome awaits all walkers.

Driftwood B&B, Brixham

Welcome to the new contemporary-classic boutique B&B in the heart of Brixham harbour. In an elevated position, 250 yards from the South West Coast Path, Driftwood combines peace & quiet with stunning views.

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.

Westbury Guest House, Brixham

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

Brixham House, Brixham

Friendly, licensed B&B. Renowned for fabulous breakfast choice. 10 minutes from Brixham Harbour.

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 Café, Berry Head

Stunning views, Napoleonic forts, rare wildlife and superb coastal walks – a visit to Berry Head has something for everyone (even before trying our fabulous food)

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From Daddyhole Plain follow the South West Coast Path towards Torquay Harbour.

Daddyhole Plain is a limestone plateau some 75 metres above the sea. Daddy is an old Devon name for the Devil, and according to local legend, the Devil lived in a cave at the foot of the cliff, formed when a large chunk of limestone fell into the sea, creating 'Daddyhole'. The possibility of further rockfalls means that nothing has been built in front of the Victorian terrace behind the recreation ground.

One of three limestone plateaux around Torbay, Daddyhole Plain has often been used for public gatherings and celebrations. In August 1815, a thanksgiving feast was held for the poor after Napoleon Bonaparte had left the Bay.

From here the path burrows its way through an evergreen blanket of holm oak, sometimes known as holly oak (holm being the ancient name for holly) and actually a member of the holly family.

  1. At the bottom of the steps just before Peaked Tor Cove the path divides.

Detour left to view London Bridge, a natural arch of Devonian limestone created by the erosive power of the waves and named by the Victorians who developed this path and quarried the limestone for local buildings as the town expanded in the tourist boom brought by the South Devon Railway at the end of the nineteenth century.

Tucked away above Peaked Tor Cove is the Torbay Home Guard's Second World War mine watchers' post. The site's secluded location, thanks to the narrow cliffs, protected it from enemy aerial surveillance, and its own panoramic view across Torquay Harbour made it the perfect lookout spot for the detonation of mines on the seabed in the Bay in the event of attack by sea.

Nowadays it has a peacetime role of providing a roost for a colony of horseshoe bats. In 2001, the St Marychurch & District Action Group raised funds for a conservation project to protect the bats already living in the pill box, and with help from the Devon Bat Group and the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust a group of volunteers refurbished the building and provided additional roosting spaces.

Horseshoe bats are an endangered species in Britain, and the greater horseshoe bat is only found in South West England and South Wales. The decline in their numbers is due to the loss of woodland and other roosting sites, as well as the use of pesticides to kill the insects on which they feed. Widespread use of chemicals toxic to bat populations used to treat timber provides another threat, although the use of these is diminishing.

Horseshoe bats are named after the distinctive flap of skin over their noses, part of the complex system they use for navigation and hunting, known as 'echolocation'. This system works like sonar: the bats send out a signal, measuring the time the sound takes to return, and its volume, to identify what is ahead and how far away it is. The bat uses the difference in the time delay and volume of the sound in each ear, relative to the other, to triangulate the position of the object which has reflected the signal.

Carry on along the Coast Path towards Torquay.

The cliffs below Daddyhole Plain and the steep ground southwards towards Torquay Harbour, known as Rock End Walk, are managed by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, an independent local charity dedicated to looking after some of Torbay's most significant heritage and wildlife sites (see the Maidencombe Walk). In Victorian times the area was laid out as gardens and a pleasure walk, but since then it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific interest and a County Wildlife Site and has been allowed to return to a more natural state. At Peaked Tor Cove itself, however, the Trust has worked with the local community to create a more formal garden.

Daddyhole is particularly noted for the geological features in its limestone cliffs, especially the fossils it contains of corals, and alternating bands of shales and limestones which have given geologists an understanding of the kind of life forms that once lived in the shallow seas where these rocks were laid down. There are also a number of rare plants flourishing in the calcium-rich soil above, including the nationally rare white rock rose and ivy broomrape, an upright reddish purple plant with scaly leaves and cream-coloured flowers.

  1. When you reach Parkhill Road, turn left towards the harbour.

Until 1903 Beacon Cove, below, was reserved as a 'ladies only' bathing beach, complete with bathing machines. This was a favourite swimming venue of local novelist Agatha Christie when she was a child.

  1. Crossing the Millennium Bridge, turn right and walk around the harbour, turning right again onto the Strand.

The Pavilion started life as an elegant theatre and assembly room during Edwardian times. Together with the entire area of the Princess Gardens, it was built on land reclaimed from the sea during the late 19th century.

From the origins as a natural inlet, the late Georgian and Victorian development of Torquay surrounds the harbour of today on three sides. At its head, where once a sandy beach was to be found, is situated 'The Strand' with hidden streams at either end, one named 'The Fleet', now under Fleet Street. Queen Victoria provided the stamp of approval to Torquay's place in society as a superior resort and watering place by her visits, originally as a princess, when she was welcomed ashore at Victoria Parade.

  1. At the Mallock Clock Tower bear left to walk up Torwood Street, turning right onto Meadfoot Road at the traffic lights. Bear left to stay on Meadfoot Road, past Meadfoot Lane, to the crossroads beyond.

The ornate clock tower was built in 1902 to commemorate the life and works of Richard Mallock, a local magistrate of many years' standing who had died during a holiday in Scotland two years before. Mallock was Torquay's MP from 1886 to 1895, and the building costs for the memorial were paid for through subscriptions raised from among his constituents.

  1. Turn right onto Parkhill Road again, and then left onto Daddyhole Road to return to the start of the walk.

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.

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Daddyhole Plain car park

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