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28 October 2014

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You are in: Devon > Places > Walks > Black Head - volcanic rocks

The view from Black Head

The view from Black Head

Black Head - volcanic rocks

From here you can view the rocky limestone landscape created by massive volcanic activity millions of years ago.

It's hard to imagine, as you're doing this walk, that this area used to be 10 degrees south of the equator and was submerged under the sea.

Of course, we're talking a very long time ago when volcanoes could be found on the seabed.

The rocks around Torquay are very broken-up and contorted by the movements of the Earth’s crust which led to Europe being joined to Britain about 300 million years ago.

In Torquay, the land was formed largely of limestone which was originally laid down on the seabed before emerging.

If you can picture the seascape off the east coast of Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, well that's what it used to be like here.

The Devonian seas were home to many species of fish, corals, brachiopods and trilobites. Some of those corals can still be found in the sea off Torquay today - hence the idea of naming this area The Coral Coast.

Looking across to Hope's Nose

Looking across to Hope's Nose

On this stretch of the Torquay coastline, you can see all the tell-tale signs of volcanic activity - especially at Black Head, which is composed of black basalt formed when the underwater volcanoes erupted millions of years ago.

The land mass rose up out of the sea in quite a rapid process some 290 million years ago.

The rocks seen here would then have been deep within a huge Alp-like mountain chain running across the centre of what is now Europe.

So the rocks on this walk would have been deep down within these mountains. Over time the mountains have been gradually eroded away.

The land mass started to move northwards, splitting up into continents until finally forming the Earth as it it today - although at this stage in the process, Britain was actually right in the middle of a huge continental land mass called Pangaea.

So from being in a tropical sea during the Devonian period, Black Head would have then been in the middle of a vast mountainous desert - about as far from the ocean as it was possible to get!

Looking southwards from Black Head and the little coves next door, Brandy Cove and Hope Cove, you can see the most northerly tip of geographic Torbay - Hope's Nose, together with the Orestone, which stands in the sea all on its own, just adrift of the mainland.

The Bishop's Walk ends close to some houses where the footpath joins Torquay's Marine Drive. From here you should cross the road and turn left where you continue on a raised path alongside the Marine Drive.

last updated: 03/04/2008 at 14:09
created: 31/01/2008

You are in: Devon > Places > Walks > Black Head - volcanic rocks

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