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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Waterfront House

We have been awarded gld in the best bed and breakfast in Devon and silver in the best bed and breakfast n the south west . Set in a breath taking spot on the harbour

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.

Dittisham Hideaway

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

The Osborne Apartments

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

Haytor Hotel

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

Quarry Lake Camping

2 miles from SWCP, simple pitches on working sheep farm. Pub within 1 mile.

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 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

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.

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.

Ebb & Flow

An independently run cafe in Kingswear with a spectacular view! Serving breakfast from 8am and a range of homemade cakes and light lunches

Salcombe Dairy Shop & Café, Dartmouth

Our ice cream and bean to bar café is set in the beautiful coastal town of Dartmouth. It’s an irresistible spot for walkers in need of sustenance.

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.

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.

Sea Kayak Devon

Experience Devon's stunning coastline by sea kayak. Let our guides take you on an unforgettable journey. Individuals, groups, families. No experience necessary.

Dartmouth Visitor Centre

Find out everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Dartmouth and the surrounding area uth

Discover Dartmouth at the Flavel Cafe

Lively arts cafe in centre of Dartmouth with information about things to, where to go and places to stay in the area. Or for more information on line please visit www.discoverdartmouth.com

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.

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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