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28 October 2014

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You are in: Devon > Great Outdoors> Walks > Torquay Circular Walk > Stage 3
Long Quarry Point
Long Quarry Point
Walls Hill & Long Quarry
Around 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 Cove.
Not 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 Point.

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 period.

Erosion at Ansteys Cove
Coastal erosion remains a problem here and rock falls are commonplace.
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.

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.

Marbled white butterful
Marbled white butterfly. Photo courtesy: Jerry Burman
This length of coast, with its secluded little coves, was also used by smugglers in centuries past.

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 being lost.

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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