Walk - Riviera Line - Paignton Station- Harbour & Roundham Head
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Leave Paignton Station and turn right on Victoria Street. Turn into Torbay Road by crossing the level crossing.
Walk past the shops and take the third road on the right down Queens Road. Turn into Torbay Park and walk towards the seafront.
- At the Esplanade cross the road onto the seafront. Turn left and walk, enjoying the seafront and Paignton Sands whilst passing the pier on your right and Paignton Green on your left.
The 780 feet long Pier was financed by Arthur Dendy, a local Paignton barrister and designed by George Bridgman. With its grand pavilion at the seaward end, it was opened to the public in June 1879. It was home to many forms of entertainment, most famously Gilbert and Sullivan's, HMS Pinafore, performed by the D'Oyley company in July 1880. In June 1919 the pier-head was destroyed in a fire. A period of decline followed and the pier was not repaired until after the Second World War. It was used in 1940 as a defence measure, for fear of German invasion. In 1980 a major project started the redevelopment of the pier to what can be seen today.
Paignton Green is home to the circular Paignton Green Mile. Launched in 2010, the route goes from the harbour along the seafront and past the pier. There are 9 distance markers set 220 yards apart. The initiative, by the local council and NHS, encourages everyone to to walk, jog, run or cycle around the route.
- At some suitable point re-trace your steps and walk towards the harbour.
Paignton Harbour, as you see it, 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!
Having explored the harbour come out onto Cliff Road
- To access Roundham Head from the harbour there is a choice of routes. The paved route, suitable for wheelchairs 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.
Once out onto the headland, the advantage of height to appreciate the view becomes obvious.
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 and soon another choice of pathways. In order avoid steps, keep to the top path and this will eventually bring you to Roundham Road. For those who wish to descend to the promenade below, a well-constructed network of paths and steps lead the walker down over the red sandstone which gives this headland its attractive colouring.
This Rock Walk and the promenade were constructed during the 1920's, the work being 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.
Returning to the top of the cliff by any one of a number of routes, you join with Roundham Road and make your descent back down to the harbour.
From the Harbour retrace your steps back to the Station.