Meadfoot Beach from Marine Drive
Marine Drive & Ilsham Valley
Follow the road as it passes Thatcher Rock and drops down to Meadfoot Beach. Then head up the wooded valley on your right.
Hope's Nose is on Ilsham Marine Drive in Torquay - probably the most exclusive road in the town, with big detached houses boasting south facing sea views across Tor Bay to Brixham.
The road was built during the 1920s as a way of providing work for the unemployed men of the town. The road did much to open up Hope's Nose and this amazing geological area to the general public.
Just a short walk on from Hope's Nose, you'll come across a lovely area with a lawn sloping down to the cliffs and views to Thatcher Rock. There are seats here to park yourself and enjoy the scenery, and it's a great spot for a picnic.
If you carry on down Ilsham Marine Drive, you'll reach Meadfoot Beach.
There's plenty of evidence here of coastal erosion. This section of Ilsham Marine Drive has started to slip down the cliffs, forcing the local council to reduce the stretch of road to single track only.
The coast around Meadfoot Beach is made up of Devonian age shales and slates, but beyond the far end of the beach you can see the cliffs of Daddyhole Plain - where the limestone returns.
Meadfoot is one of Torquay's many beaches and, while the limestone around the beaches was formed 370 to 390 million years ago, the beaches themselves were created much much later than that. In fact, they're the babies of Torquay's coastline!
The bay and beaches came about when the last ice age ended around 10,000 years ago.
During the very cold bits of the Ice Age, what is now the English Channel would have been a wide river plain.
Sea levels began to rise, until they finally reached their current levels. Just before the midway point of this process, some 6,000 years ago, the sea levels divided us from what is now mainland Europe.
The sea poured in to drown the basin - and so Tor Bay was created.
It meant an end to all the woodland that previously covered the land - that was now under the sea. At times of very low tide and when the conditions are just right, you can still see the remnants of the drowned woodland in Tor Bay.
During the past few thousand years, the sea has slowly but surely eaten away at the cliffs to form the beaches which now attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Tourism is the resort's main industry - and the beaches play a big part in the town's economy.
The resort started to develop during the 19th Century, when Torquay was seen as an exclusive place for people to visit. Grand villas were built on the hillsides, and they're still dotted along Ilsham Valley.
As you head up the valley from Meadfoot Beach, you walk through a woodland which was planted by the wealthy Victorian landowners, who loved their trees. This bit is uphill, until you reach the prehistoric caves at Kents Cavern.
Head on up the Ilsham Valley towards Kents Cavern.
Option 1 (easy):
Walk through the park itself and then along Ilsham Valley Road until you reach Kents Cavern.
Option 2 (more strenuous):
Take the lower path through Ilsham Woods - this takes you straight into the grounds Kents Cavern itself.
Those who wish to miss out the caves should choose Option 1. As you walk along Ilsham Valley Road look out for another park on your right. Follow the grassed footpath across the field to Ansteys Cove car park.
last updated: 03/04/2008 at 14:12
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Beach life - a guide to Devon's coastline