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Exploring The English Riviera!

After checking ourselves in for a week at Torquay harbour it was time to explore the beautiful coast that is The English Riviera!

Covering an area of some 22 miles The English Riviera encompasses Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, and the smaller village of Babbacombe. Back in Victorian times people compared the warm climate to that found on the French Riviera, so it became known as The English Riviera. We have already covered Torquay in our previous post which you can check out here, so here we cover Paignton, Brixham and Babbacombe.

Pretty Paignton!

Paignton Beach

Our first stop was Paignton. We purchased a DayRider bus ticket for £5.50 which allowed us to hop on and hop off wherever we chose. Paignton is situated about midway between Torquay and Brixham and is a very popular holiday destination…think amusement arcades, a family pier and holiday gift shops! But there are some great attractions here. For one the beach here is beautiful; a long stretch of reddish sand perfect for a stroll and a paddle! Take a wander around to the quaint fishing harbour which dates back to the 18th century and dries out at low tide. Interestingly the approach into Paignton Harbour is the opposite to most UK harbour entrances – made on the port side of the fairway and not the starboard side! And of course train enthusiasts will not want to miss the famous Dartmouth Steam Railway with trains departing from Paignton for Kingswear (for Dartmouth) . Other attractions which we didn’t actually check out include Paignton Zoo and Splashdown so if you’re after family attractions Paignton is for you!

We will also like to give a shout out to Frankie’s Breakfast Bar & Coffee House for their awesome fry up – so, so good👍

Beautiful Brixham!

Brixham Harbour

Pretty much every sailor visits Brixham when in the area; it’s a hugely popular stop over point after or before crossing Lyme Bay. But we choose to do things differently and that’s why we headed for Torquay, but we still wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

Famous as having one of the largest fishing fleets in the UK, life in Brixham has always centred around the harbour and the sea. Understandably, if you’re a fan of sea food, you won’t be short of choice here!

Brixham is also home to the Golden Hind replica, a recreation of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship, where visitors can experience life on board and explore all the decks. During our visit the attraction was actually closed however we were fortunate enough to get onboard Pilgrim of Brixham, a fully restored heritage sailing trawler which was launched back in 1895. She is the oldest sailing trawler that was built and rigged in the harbour and nowadays she offers sailing experiences out of Brixham. Completely restored above deck, Pilgrim is owned and operated by a charitable company and sails the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and over to the Channel Islands, Brittany coast and Isles of Scilly. She is a gaff-rigged ketch measuring 22.7m (74′ 6″) and with her bowsprit extended she extends to 28.6m (94′). She has seven sails and her main mast is 21.9m (72′) high. Below deck she has 12 guest berths and a separate crew cabin with 4 berths, two heads and a well equipped galley. Guests are encouraged to get involved in sailing her if they wish.

A stroll out the Brixham Breakwater is recommended. It is just over a mile long and offers some great views of the town and surrounding Torbay area. We were even lucky enough to spot a seal! On your way back pop into the RNLI Kiosk and treat yourself to a little souvenir.

We also took a stroll around the other side of the harbour to Fishcombe Cove, a popular anchoring zone which now has 3 mooring buoys for boaters to use to protect the seagrasses. This really is a stunning spot but we can imagine getting one of the buoys is pure luck!

And once again we need to give a shout out for some great tasting food! Lloyd Maunder Brixham is a local butcher that also sells some delicious hot “street food”, which is very, very reasonably priced. We treated ourselves to a shredded pork baguette with stuffing, a sausage and bacon baguette, two hash browns and two tea’s for less than £8! And it was sooooo good!👍

Charming Babbacombe!

Babbacombe Bay

Being based in Torquay meant we could walk some of the South West Coast Path to Babbacombe. Leaving the marina we picked up the trail by the Imperial Hotel. The walk provided some beautiful views over Beacon Cove and London Bridge. We popped into the NCI lookout station next to Daddyhole plain before heading back down to sea level at Meadfoot beach where we stopped for lunch. We omitted heading out to the headland at Hope’s Nose as time was starting to run away with us. Instead we cut the corner before popping down at Anstey’s Cove to check out the anchorage here, which by the way looks idyllic!

Moving on we crossed Babbacombe Downs before descending into Babbacombe Bay, popping out just by the beautiful Cary Arms pub, meaning we just had to have a cheeky shandy on the terrace overlooking the bay! The pub actually have a number of mooring buoys in the bay which can be used for overnight stays. However they do cost £40 a night 😬

The bay here is pretty special with crystal clear waters and a stunning backdrop. Probably the biggest highlight though is the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, a funicular railway built in 1926, which shuttles visitors up and down the cliff from Oddicombe Beach. We paid £2.20 each for a one way fare to take us to the top. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance this time round to visit the Babbacombe Model Village, another hugely popular attraction here, but perhaps next time!

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