Walk - Bay Esplanade Hotel - Roundham Head

1.1 miles (1.8 km)

Esplanade Hotel, SandsRoad, Paignton Esplanade Hotel, SandsRoad, Paignton

Easy -

A wheelchair-friendly walk around Paignton's Roundham Head, the hub of the town's sixteenth-century fishing industry. The headland's rocky red layered cliffs are topped with pines and sycamores, and there are extensive views, across Tor Bay to Torquay to the north and over Goodrington Sands to Brixham in the south. On a good day you can even see across Lyme Bay to Portland; but this is an equally captivating walk in poor weather, when the waves are dashed against the rocks and send plumes of surf high over the colourful line of beach huts at the foot of the cliff. This is a dog friendly walk.

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.

Earlston House Hotel

A 9 room dog friendly B&B with excellent reviews, super views, very close to the South West Coast Path and a large hot tub to relax in.

Mercure Paignton

Experience the true English Riviera at Mercure Paignton Hotel, a seaside haven on Paignton seafront, your gateway to Devon's stunning coast and countryside. Enjoy sea-view rooms and unforgettable experiences.

Roadtrip Tavern

I have a loft space that is divided into 4 separate pods and is open plan like a dormitory and is specifically for SWCP Walkers.

Haytor Hotel

Elegant and welcoming Victorian villa, offering delicious breakfasts, a peaceful night's sleep. 4 mins walks from harbour and beach.

The 25 Boutique B&B

Funky 5-star adult-only boutique B&B, (twice named “Best B&B in the World”) located in easy walking distance of the coast path, restaurants, tourist attractions & harbour

The Cimon

The Cimon, a gorgeous Victorian villa, a few minutes walk from the Coastal Path, restaurants and attractions. Muddy boots welcome. Seasonal outdoor heated pool & bar.

The Osborne Apartments

Luxury self catering apartments nestled in the heart of the English Riviera with stunning sea views.

Garway Lodge Guest House

Enjoy a 4 Star Award-Winning guest house bed & breakfast. Situated in Torquay. Early Breakfasts are available upon request.

Berry Head Hotel Ltd

AA 4 star Hotel & Apartments with stunning sea views at the waters edge. Bistro & Restaurant, Indoor Pool on the Coastal Path.

South Bay Holiday Park

Set above the bustling town of Brixham, this lively holiday park has an action packed entertainment programme & childrens' adventure playground. Direct path to the delightful St Mary's Cove and the SW Coast Path. Range of chalets and caravans.

Rose Court Holiday Apartments

Rose Court are self contained holiday apartments with free Parking set in a delightful Victorian villa with glorious gardens, 5 minutes from the South West Coastal Path.

Coastguard Cottage

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

Rooms At Babbacombe

Rooms At Babbacombe offers stylish room only and B&B accommodation, as well as a stunning self-contained, self-catering holiday cottage.

Sea Breeze Guest House

We are a Bed and Breakfast with views across Babbacombe Downs and the Jurassic coast. We offer large ensuite rooms, fabulous breakfasts and refreshments on our terrace.

Castle Retreats

Castle Annexe offers super-king or twin beds in a cosy, one dog friendly setting, nestled within historic St Marychurch.

Parkdean Resorts Torquay Holiday Park

Just 15 minutes’ drive from the waterfront, Torquay Holiday Park has the perfect mix of on-park activities and accommodation choices .

Dittisham Hideaway

A Luxury Collection of Spacious Treehouses, Luxurious Shepherds Huts and a 1950's Vintage Airstream

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.

Harbour Light

Light-filled, rustic tavern with a terrace offering bay views, plus a menu of pub classics.

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. Open all year.

Three Degrees West

Three Degrees West is a daytime cafe & takeaway on the stunning Oddicombe Beach in Babbacombe on the outskirts of Torquay. Inside & outside dining right beside the sea.

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.

English Riviera Tourist Information Centre

Find all the information you need about accommodation, things to do and places to go to enjoy your visit to the English Riviera.

Shoalstone Seawater Pool

Shoalstone Seawater Pool is a great place to swim and paddle, and picnic on the green looking across the Bay. Shoals Café serves breakfasts, lunches and evening meals.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the Esplanade Hotel head towards the seafront crossing the roundabout to walk up Roundham Road, past the harbour.

The area between Roundham and the harbour was once marshland, and there was a causeway running across it linking the sailors' Torbay Inn with the town itself. The marshes were not drained until the middle of the eighteenth century. There was a quay here in the sixteenth century, used for unloading stone for building work. Today's harbour was built following the 1837 Paignton Quay and Harbour Act, and it was used for landing fish, coal, timber and stone, as well as exporting the cabbages which were still grown in the centre of the town at the time. The other local export was Paignton cider. One of the directors of the Paignton Harbour Company was local farmer and cider-maker, Nicholas Prout Hunt, and when the harbour was being built it was estimated that the town might export up to 40,000 hogsheads (about 2.2 million gallons) of cider each year.

For many centuries fishing was Paignton's main livelihood, and a sixteenth-century survey listed 17 'cellars and fish houses', many of which were in 'Rowneham'. (A fish house is thought to have been larger than a cellar). The Harbour Light Restaurant was formerly a fish cellar and net store, and it is thought to have been the 'Great Cellar' mentioned in the 1567 survey. There was a terrace of fishermen's cottages beside it, but these were demolished in 1880 to make way for the Paignton Club. The small whitewashed building now housing the public toilets was the coastguard station, where customs men kept a watch for smugglers.

Beyond the harbour, the little crescent of sandy beach is known as Fairy Cove. The red sand and shingle shoreline is bordered by rocks, with interesting rockpools at low tide. The local bedrock is part of the Torbay Breccia Formation, which was formed from layers of sand and gravel in the Permian period, almost 300 million years ago. These were laid down in a hot desert, and their red colouring comes from iron oxide, which forms when there are no living organisms to use the oxygen. Flash flooding swept chunks of limestone through the desert, and angular fragments of these were embedded in the sandstone when it was compressed into the rock layers. If you look at the cliffs around the headland you will see the layers in the rock, and the fragments or 'clasts' of limestone in them.

  1. Take the second road on the left (Cliff Road), signed 'To the Cliff Path'. At the next junction turn left, walking slightly uphill and following the right-hand bend to where the Cliff Path heads away around the parkland to the left.
  2. Turn left onto the Cliff Path to join the South West Coast Path and follow it around the headland. Stay on the top path to avoid steps, coming out on Alta Vista Road; but otherwise carry on along the Coast Path as it descends towards Goodrington Sands. Turn right to double back on yourself just after the top of the steps to the beach, bearing left beyond to walk to Alta Vista Road.

At the foot of the headland's northern shoreline, the rocks are known as the Paignton Ledges. In February 1804, HMS Venerable stranded and bilged here on her way from Torbay to blockade Brest in the French Revolutionary War. The 74-gun sailing vessel was constructed in Perry's Yard in Blackall in 1784, and it took about 4000 mature oak trees to build her, at a cost of £3800. Of the 555 men aboard, only three were lost.

The Channel Fleet played a critical part in defending Britain from invasion, and in the past it often used Torbay as a sheltered anchorage. A few years earlier, in 1762, another sail-powered warship was lost off Roundham Head. In February 1762, a 144-ton wooden sloop-of-war, HMS Savage, was driven ashore in an easterly gale. This stretch of water is known as Savage Hole in her honour.

A very different kind of vessel whose remains are also said to lie on the seabed off Roundham Head is the 1911 German torpedo destroyer, the T189, built of steel with a steam engine. At the end of the First World War, she and her fellow sub S24 were being towed from Cherbourg to Teignmouth, to be scrapped, when she stranded on the rocks near the headland.

Known as Rock Walk, this path was constructed in the 1920s, along with the Promenade, by Welsh miners brought here on a work creation scheme when the British economy was struggling with the economic effects of the First World War, shortly before the Great Depression.

  1. On Alta Vista Road turn right, carrying straight on ahead at Roundham Road to return past the Paignton Club and then to the start of the walk at the Esplanade Hotel.
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