• Start: Anstey’s Cove car park, accessible from Babbacombe Road,Torquay; sat nav reference TQ1 2JF
  • End: Anstey’s Cove car park, accessible from Babbacombe Road,Torquay; sat nav reference TQ1 2JF
  • Country: England
  • County: Devon
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 110 or Landranger 202
  • Difficulty: Medium
Google Map


This walk provides a wonderful introduction to the natural splendour of geographical Torbay and an understanding of its attraction for Victorian residents and visitors

The first section of the walk follows what is known as The Bishops Walk. The Bishop in question was Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter from 1831 until his death in 1869. His home was the nearby mansion of Bishopstowe, now the Palace Hotel. Since those days, trees have grown up to obscure much of the view but clearings do exist, providing views of the sea and shoreline. Early on, Ansteys Cove becomes visible through the trees with the great limestone headland of Walls Hill standing dominant above.

The seemingly sculpted point of the headland is known as Long Quarry Point and from here limestone was quarried in Victorian times to provide building stone for the growing town of Torquay. Stone was also used in the nearby marble works where it was made into ornamental furnishings to decorate the increasing numbers of Victorian villas.

Hopes Nose provides a delightful but small curving bay into which sailing ships could seek shelter in stormy conditions. It is possible that this hope for respite brought about the name of Torbays most northerly promontory.

1 From the car park walk south along the Coast Path, passing through woodland around Black Head. The Bishops Walk ends where it joins Marine Drive and initially a footpath above the road separates walkers from vehicles. Now the magical panorama of Torbay begins to emerge, punctuated nearby by its two limestone islets of Orestone (to the left) and Thatcher Rock, home to colonies of guillemot and kittiwake. There is access down to the shoreline at Hopes Nose from the road but, be warned, it is a steep climb in places.

In the 19th century prospectors descended on Torquay after gold was found in the rocks at Hopes Nose.

2The route now turns to run along the northern side of the bay via a section of footpath and the Marine Drive, down to Meadfoot Beach. Evergreen holm oak is common here, a species of tree that was introduced by the Victorians.

Marine Drive was built in the 1920s as a way of providing work for the unemployed.

3 A footpath can now be followed through woodland planted by wealthy Victorian landowners up the Ilsham valley, terminating at Kents Cavern. A popular tourist attraction, Kents Cavern is also a scheduled monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its geology and archaeological finds; it is Britains oldest recognised site of early human habitation, more than 500,000 years ago! From Kents Cavern it is only a short stroll back to Ansteys Cove car park.

Information kindly supplied by English Riviera Tourist Board.


Start/parking: Ansteys Cove car park, accessible from Babbacombe Road,Torquay; sat nav reference TQ1 2JF

Distance: 3 miles (5 km)

Time: 1-2 hours

Terrain: Coastal footpath, with short section of road and inland footpath. Unsuitable for wheelchair users

Maps: OS Explorer 110 or Landranger 202

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