Walk - Bay Esplanade Hotel - Paignton to Brixham

5.4 miles (8.7 km)

Esplanade Hotel, Paignton Esplanade Hotel, Paignton

Moderate -

An exploration of a living, but tranquil area of countryside and coastline that divides the residential outskirts of Paignton and Brixham. Follow the South West Coast Path from Paignton's hidden harbour, through the park built by miners, past the setting of one of Agatha Christie's most famous books to the active fishing port of Brixham, once Torbay's largest town. Return to Paignton by bus.

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.

Brixham House

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

Westbury Guest House

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

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.

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.

Vane Tower Penthouse

Panoramic views of sea, shore & moor from this luxury 2 bed self-catering apartments in one of Torquay's most iconic buildings. Very close to the coast path. Free wifi.

Payge Stay Torquay

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

The Millbrook B&B

Excellent en-suite accommodation just 800 metres from Torquay sea front, wi-fi & on-site parking, garden. Guest lounge and Conservatory.

The Cleveland Bed and Breakfast

EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE * FREE WIFI * OFF-STREET PARKING The Cleveland is ideally located for access to Torquay and the South West Coast Path

Garway Lodge Guest House

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

A family run bistro with magnificent panoramic sea views and fresh, seasonal menu. Daytime and evening bistro.

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.

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

English Riviera Bid Company

The English Riviera BID company is the destination marketing organisation for the English Riviera which includes over 1000 tourism businesses. It promotes the England's Seafood Coast brand and coordinates the Seafood FEAST festival

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the Esplanade Hotel cross the road at the roundabout onto the seafront. Turn right to join the South West Coast Path as it makes its way towards the harbour.

Paignton Harbour, as it is today, was created in 1838 when a more efficient landing place was required to take out the two important exports of the area - cider and giant pole cabbages. Today a crab processing plant provides employment and a popular food for local hotels and restaurants whilst the leisure boats ply their trade with visitors.

At the top of the slope leading up to the road, the small whitewashed building overlooking the harbour, now the public toilets, used to be 'The Preventatives Station'. The preventatives, or coastguards, had the unenviable job of trying to apprehend the smugglers who were so numerous along this coast during the 18th and 19th centuries. Large quantities of contraband were landed on Paignton beach and much of the time the preventatives sensibly turned a blind eye!

  1. To access Roundham Head from the harbour there is a choice of routes. The paved route is via Cliff Road whilst another more difficult but interesting approach is along the South Quay and across Fairy Cove, climbing up the steps to join Cliff Road.

Below the footpath on the initial section are rocks known as the Paignton Ledges. Here in February 1804 a warship named Venerable was shipwrecked. Luckily out of a crew of 555 men only 3 lost their lives.

As the route rounds the head itself, Goodrington Beach comes into sight. There are a variety of zig zag paths all over the reddish cliffs.

This Rock Walk, floodlit at night, and the promenade were constructed in 2 years from 1929. The work was carried out by Welsh miners as part of a work creation scheme during the Great Depression. Some of the semi-tropical plants that were supplied at the time by Herbert Whitley of Paignton Zoo, still survive today.

  1. Make your way down one of them onto the promenade path of Goodrington North Sands. A small rocky area known as Middle Stone divides Goodrington North from South.

Goodrington Sands is a safe sandy award winning family beach, unique in Torbay in that at high tide there is still quite a lot of beach left to sit on at the southern end of the beach.

  1. Follow the path past amusements, Quaywest, shops, toilets and the South Sands Café until you cross under the railway line. The Coast Path winds its way between the railway line and houses and mobile homes.

The South Devon Railway was extended from Paignton to Kingswear in 1864. The Dart Valley Railway acquired the line in 1973 after the line was threatened with closure.

At Saltern Cove there is an old stone bridge over the railway line onto the grassy headland. Saltern Cove is a site of special scientific interest and a local nature reserve. It is unique in Britain as the Reserve extends underwater to a point 376 metres below low water mark. The high number of tourists in the immediate area of Goodrington and Broadsands has caused diversity of species on the rocky foreshore of Saltern Cove to sadly diminish over the past 25 years.

Recross the bridge and turn left to continue this walk. Some concrete steps lead down to the end of Broadsands Park Road. 

  1. Turn left as the Coast Path crosses under the impressive Broadsands railway viaduct. Follow the coast path around Broadsands Beach, a sandy cove with a long line of beach huts. The path continues at a fairly low-level around Churston Point to come out onto Elberry Cove.

Here a crescent strand of bleached pebble provides a sheltered spot where Lord Churston created a 19th century sea-water bathing house, today a rather romantic ruin overlooking water-skiing and bathing activities. Elberry Cove was said to be a favourite bathing site for Agatha Christie, the crime novelist. Local settings were used in many of her books including The ABC Murders where detective Hercule Poirot alights at Churston Station to investigate a murder at Elberry Cove.

  1. From Elberry Cove the path climbs fairly steeply away from the beach and passing along a woodland fringe with glimpses of the sea for the next half-mile. On your right is Churston Golf Course.

This 18 hole course, known as one of Devon’s best kept secrets was opened in 1890 on land provided by Lord Churston. The sycamore trees, predominant in this area, are salt resistant and provide a protective barrier for the other trees.

  1. Descend down steps by Fishcombe Point to Churston Cove.

At the Cove, a picturesque and unspoiled inlet with a shingle beach, it is hard to believe you are at the entrance to Brixham outer harbour.

Follow the Coast Path through The Grove, an ancient, semi-natural woodland.

  1. Coming out onto a tarmac path turn left to follow the coast path around the headland, through Battery Gardens and along to Brixham Harbour.

Here is the centre of the coastal fishing port. The original town was based further inland, and even the harbour was inland of where it now is. The old harbour has now been built over and is occupied by the modern car park and bus station area.  The 1801 Census revealed Brixham to be the largest town in Torbay with a population of 3,500. Paignton population was 1,575 and Torquay a mere 838. In the 2011 Census Brixham had a population of 16,693, Paignton 49,021 and Torquay 65,245!

Close to the Tourist Information Centre and the replica of the Golden Hind on the Strand stands the statue of William of Orange. The statue was erected in Victorian times. It commemorates the landing at Brixham in 1688 of William of Orange, King William III, together with his wife Mary, the daughter of the deposed King James II, on his way to London to take the throne.

Buses return from the town square in Brixham -a little back from the harbour- to Paignton taking about 20 minutes. Get off at Dartmouth Road from where there is a short 5 minute walk back to the Esplanade Hotel.

Public transport

The Stagecoach South West Bus 12 leaves Brixham every 10 minutes taking about 20 minutes to reach Paignton. Contact www.traveline.info for detailed travel information.

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