Berry Head to Sharkham Point

About this route

This dramatic stretch of coastline is of tremendous geological, historical, ecological and landscape importance.

Berry Head is a large headland of Devonian-age limestone providing an excellent viewpoint from which to admire Torbay’s varied geology and beautiful coastline. Soaring to a height of 195m, it is generally flat topped, with a series of cliffs, steep slopes and ledges reaching down to the sea. This limestone was deposited as part of a reef in a tropical sea and is exposed in old quarries at the top of the cliff on the northern side of the site. These provided material for the Napoleonic fortifications that are still well preserved at Berry Head. At Shoalstone beach, wave-cut platforms have exposed two sets of red sandstone sedimentary dykes. Some of these are lined with large sparry calcite crystals.

Getting Around

On foot: The South West Coast Path runs through the site. There is an easy access path at Berry Head.

By train and bus: There is a mainline train station at nearby Paignton and bus services from here to Brixham.

By car: Accessed from Brixham, there is a car park at Berry Head, and Sharkham Point.

By boat: One of the best ways to view the geology of this coastline is by boat. Cruises are available from Torquay, Paignton and Brixham harbours.

Please do not get too close to the cliff edges.

Facilities
Cafe and toilets at Berry Head. Visitor centre with live CCTV pictures of the guillemot colony during the summer.
Terrain
Coastal path along clifftops, a number of steep slopes.
Accessibility

Interesting information

From Sharkham Point it is possible to look back at the impressive cliffs made of limestone and mudstone and see signs of folding. Iron mining used to take place at Sharkham Point. Besides its use in the production of iron, the haematite ore was powdered and formed the basis for an anti-corrosion paint.

The link between geology and wildife is clearly demonstrated along this stretch of coast. There are large areas of species-rich limestone grassland containing a number of rare plants. The different rates of erosion of the cliffs of Berry Head have created a series of ledges which are now home to the largest breeding colony of guillemots on the south coast of England.

This site is a National Nature Reserve, Special Area of Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ancient Monument.

Copyright Steve Daniels - Licenced for reuse - see geograph.org.uk

You can explore more in this area