BRIXHAM, DEVON... HOME TO PIRATES, TRANQUILITY AND STUNNING COASTAL WALKS
MEETING POINT: OUTSIDE ROCKFISH TQ5 8AW
Wildlife trips running April to November.
2 Hour, 4 Hour, 8 Hour, Photography Courses and BIG 3 Trips.
Departure point for Guernsey trips and Berry Head Guided Walks.
Brixham is a stunningly beautiful harbourside town on South Devon’s beautiful English Riviera. Life here has always centred around the harbour, where heritage trawlers jostle for space with day boats heading out to sea for the day’s catch, bringing it home daily to Brixham’s famous Fish Market. Here, in the heart of England’s Seafood Coast, the freshest fish and most delicious seafood is on the menu everywhere.
Brixham isn’t just about fishing. Yes it’s still one of the busiest fishing ports in the UK and a working town, but it’s also a place where you can discover a range of arts and culture, excellent local food and some unique attractions. Brixham attracts visitors for its character, charm and combination of tradition and an enthusiasm for contemporary styles. Brixham is the quintessential English harbour, with a colourful and vibrant feel all year round, making it as ideal for a summer holiday with the kids as it is for a romantic winter break for two, and in close proximity to its neighbouring Devon resorts of The English Riviera.
Brixham is the perfect place for a doggy-break with the stunning South West Coast path allowing you to walk through woods and along cliff tops to a variety of local beaches or even all the way to Torquay. Brixham is an important part of the UNESCO accredited English Riviera Global Geopark and you can stroll up to Berry Head National Nature Reserve (free entry) with its jaw dropping views, Napoleonic forts, fabulous wildlife and welcoming café that’s open all year round. Look out for Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Grey Seals and Thresher sharks that can often be seen near the beaches, in the harbours or off the headlands.
Yachts galore can be seen in the popular marina and in the outer harbour. Enjoy a stroll along the waterfront promenade and along the half-mile long breakwater with its lighthouse, and then relax on popular Breakwater Beach. Take a dip in Shoalstone pool, the iconic Art Deco seawater lido and enjoy a meal or a cream tea at one of the lovely local cafes, restaurants and pubs, many facing the waterfront.
Berry Head is a National Nature Reserve. This stunning headland, with its iconic lighthouse and Napoleonic Fort, is surrounded by water on three sides and offers exceptional views across Torbay and beyond. It is Torbay’s most designated heritage site being a Special Area of Conservation, National Nature Reserve, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Ancient Monument to name only four! The guillemot colony is protected by the only Area of Special Protection in the UK, which prohibits boats from entering the cove during their breeding season.
You can enjoy superb coastal walks, spot a wide range of wildlife on land and at sea or simply relax in the award-winning Guardhouse Café. Our visitor centre has lots of stories about the reserve, its history, wildlife and the work of Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust.
Stroll, hike, run or simply sit and enjoy the panoramic view from one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the U.K. Over 170 acres of diverse habitat and wildlife, fascinating history and stunning scenery. This is a must-visit day out and is either a pleasant walk or short drive from Brixham. Dogs are welcome but may need to be kept on leads in certain areas when livestock are present (see signs on site). Disability access is good with tarmac or laid paths into both the North and South Forts.
Berry Head is home to a colourful and rare assortment of plants, animal species and grasslands – the site has recorded 200 varieties of bird, fifty of which breed within or close to the reserve. Hidden in the quarry caves are a small colony of greater horseshoe bats, one of Britain’s most endangered species. The high cliffs are host to the largest breeding colonies of guillemots on the south coast of England and these are Berry Head’s most famous residents, peaking at 1,400 birds during the breeding season. These cliffs are subject to an Area of Special Protection order between March and July, for breeding season, to safeguard the colony from disturbances by marine vessels and climbers.
Here are some beautiful walks, local to Brixham that are great for watching wildlife.
Brixham Harbour to Berry Head.
This walk begins at the picturesque harbourside in Brixham and takes you onwards to the marina and Breakwater Beach. The gentle level walk along the breakwater leads to a lighthouse and then a ten minute walk to Shoalstone Pool. Consider stopping and taking a dip at this charming outdoor seawater swimming pool on the seafront, once a popular bathing spot during Victorian times. There’s Shoals Brixham too, a cafe on the lido offering a range of excellent coffees and refreshing beers, ciders and spirits as well as locally sourced fish dishes.
Brunel Woods, Torquay
This walk is steeped in local history with stunning woodland landscapes and views.
Brunel Woods at Watcombe was acquired by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who planned to retire there and had commissioned the design of a garden and a house, the latter of which was never built. The garden became woodland, with many of the species and features of Brunel’s time still existing today. The site is now managed by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, and contains a network of paths and some impressive views to admire. Whilst meandering around the site look out for the 58 ft commemorative totem sculpture in the woods known as ‘Brunel’s Dance’, dedicated to the great man.
Ansteys Cove Circular
This walk starts at the award winning visitor attraction, Kents Cavern in Wellswood, Torquay with a lower path that takes you through a woodland area running alongside the very popular Ilsham Valley green. Arriving at the north end of Meadfoot Beach take in the gorgeous views across the bay and Thatcher’s Rock, an island inhabited only by guillemot. Follow the winding coast path up to Ilsham Marine Drive, an exclusive residential area displaying a vast array of contemporary detached homes with breathtaking views of the bay. There is a very pleasant sloping grassy stretch here with ample seating to stop for a while, admire the scenery and maybe take some selfies. Thatcher Point and Hope’s Nose, an area of protruding coastline with limestone rocks and fossils and a curving bay can only be accessed on foot, making it a favourite spot of keen walkers, nature lovers and anglers.
This lovely scenic walk begins at Millennium Bridge at Torquay Harbour, and through Beacon Cove, once known as the Ladies Bathing Cove and a favourite swimming spot of Agatha Christie. There are stunning views to take in as you follow the coastal path, passing The Imperial Hotel, perched elegantly on the cliffside with Peaked Tor Cove nestled behind. At the top of the steps you can see an old wartime Mine Watcher’s post where mines used to be detonated and there is also an old pill box which now hosts a local colony of Horseshoe Bats. As you ascend the path you will have a breathtaking view of London Bridge Arch, a limestone natural sea arch that has developed over time.
BUT... what we are here for is the wildlife...And its plentiful!!
Our Brixham tours see masses of it from birds to cetaceans and seals to sharks. There's a host of breeding and nesting Pelagic birds. Berry Head holds a staggering breeding population of around 1400 guillemots hazardous shelves and crags attract the largest breeding colony (also known as a 'loonery'!) of guillemots on Britain's south coast, earning the site its status as a National Nature Reserve. Their choice to breed here is so special, that the surrounding waters are protected by a Parliamentary Act.
Fulmars, Shags, Cormorants and for the first time in several years Kittiwakes have all used the site for nesting and rearing chicks. Peregrine Falcons and Kestrels frequent the area both for nesting and hunting, the fledged chicks can often be heard during the summer months calling to there parents. Out to sea, Gannets, Shearwaters (including Manx, Beleric, and Sooty) and Storm Petrels also regular seen as well as many Skewers towards the end of summer and autumn.
Also worth mentioning here is the large colony of Greater Horseshoe Bats. Berry Head is also home to one of Britain's final strongholds of our largest bat species. The colony here is unique in that it occupies both a winter hibernation roost and a spring maternity roost. They often emerge on warm summer evenings to hunt for insects.
Then we have the our Marine Life, from May to the end of September large amounts of Common dolphins move from the warm waters of Bay of Biscay along the south coast of the U.K and into Lyme bay and Torbay. Some of these pod are truly massive with sightings of over 200 animals at a time and it being nothing to encounter several hundred animals in a day. Torbay also holds several resident pods of Common Dolphins that if we are lucky, can be found 12 month of the year. Lyme bay also holds a resident population of around 150 White Beaked Dolphins, this is about the furthest south they are recorded and make them quite a rarity and unique along the south coast, we usually find some of these pods several times a year and run special days trips looking for them further offshore. These large and playful animals truly are one of my favourites.
Risso and Bottlenose Dolphins are regularly encountered and although these are normally in offshore encounters, as in the case of the Minke Whale that we snapped less than 100 yards from Berry Head early 2021, both have been found within a few hundred yards from the shore in the Torbay area.
The Brixham Grey Seal population is always a highlight of our trips, Brixham holds a resident population of around 50 animals now which has steadily increased over the last 10 years or so. If time allows and the the timing is right there are several places we can head to to observe these animals hauled out and resting, this is done at distance so binoculars definitely help with this. If we are lucky we might even find a couple of the much smaller Common seals that have turned up in the last few years, with an area not very far away that has the south wests largest ( Now Breeding) group. Its great to be able to see the 2 species side by side so you can truly appreciate the differences.
Some of our other Large animals seen are, Minke Whales, Basking and Thresher Sharks, GIANT Bluefin Tuna, Sunfish, Harbour Porpoise and as in this year (2021) a Leatherback Turtle. Humpback, Fin and Pilot Whales have also been recorded numerous times in recent years.
Check out the photo gallery below on just some of the animals we hope to find...
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