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Long Quarry Point
Hill & Long Quarry
75 yards from the start of the Bishop's Walk views will open up through
the trees to reveal the limestone cliffs of Walls Hill towering above Ansteys
far into the Bishop's Walk, there are views through the trees on your left
to the imposing limestone headland called Walls Hill.
At the bottom of the 300ft cliffs there are the little coves, Ansteys Cove
and Redgate beach. And, sticking out like a pointing finger is Long Quarry
The scenery here is dramatic, and so is the area's history. The cliffs are
Devonian limestone dating back 350-400 million years. The most precise estimate
puts these cliffs at around 370-390 million years old.
The geology found in this part of Devon gave its name
to the Devonian period. It was named in 1838 by the geologists Sir Roderick
Impey Murchison and Adam Sedgwick who first investigated rocks formed during
The Devonian is quite an important time in the history of
life, as it was about this time that animals were just beginning to venture
onto the land.
|Coastal erosion remains a problem here
and rock falls are commonplace.
Even then, the Devonian continents had early plants but were pretty much
devoid of large life forms. The sea was still the place to be!
During this period Torquay was more like the modern Bahamas. It was one
of an archipelago of tropical islands flanked by reefs that included Newton
Abbot and Plymouth !!
The mainland of Britain was over 100km to the north, along what is now the
North Devon coast. Back then most of Britain was a rugged, dry desert. That's
why South Devon and Cornwall are so different from the rest of the country.
During the Victorian era, the limestone at Long Quarry was quarried and
used to build the grandest houses and civic buildings in Torquay. Some of
the limestone was of such a quality it was used for marble, which was loved
by the wealthy Victorians who lived in the developing upmarket resort.
This was how much of Torquay was built, using local
materials which were on hand - a legacy of the geological developments over
hundreds of millions of years.
Long Quarry Point isn't quarried any more, and the resort no longer has
a marble industry.
At the top of the cliffs is Walls Hill, a limestone plateau. Some 2,500
years ago this was an Iron Age fortification, a headland fort where tribal
groups would have retreated at times of threat.
This length of coast, with its secluded little coves, was
also used by smugglers in centuries past.
|Marbled white butterfly.
Photo courtesy: Jerry Burman
It's now a place for walkers and for people to admire
the sea views.
The area is an Ancient Monument and protected as a Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI), with the limestone providing conditions for flora and butterflies
such as the Marbled White and Common Blue.
The Calcareous Grasslands at Walls Hill are perfect for rare and localised
plant species - Small Hare's Ear, Small Rest Harrow, Goldilocks Aster, Nit-grass,
Little Robin, White Rock-rose, Early Meadow Grass and Honewort among them.
The cliffs along this stretch have been affected by
coastal erosion, and some of the beaches have been closed to the public
for safety reasons.
It has sparked a debate over how we can best deal with this problem - whether
we should do nothing and leave nature to do its thing or whether efforts
should be made to hold back the tide in order to save popular beaches from
Such changes to the landscape aren't new of course. This area has been subject
to enormous changes over millions and millions of years. You get an idea
of those huge developments on the next section of the walk.
....continue along the path for 200-300 yards until
a wide view opens out in front of you with Hope's Nose in the distance.
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