The Valley of the rocks is like walking through a prehistoric jungle atmosphere with the red cliffs soaring through the foliage. Sadly the Giant Rock is obscured with the growth of all the trees around and it no longer looks the magnificent natural beast it once did. The whole area is rich in wildlife with paths shooting off in all directions, you could go many different ways. You might even be lucky to spot the rare Cirl Bunting, there were only 118 pairs of these birds left in the 1980’s.
There is a circular walk that will take you to Maidencombe and back or you could go the opposite way to Babbacombe Downs. There are two beaches nearby, although Whitsand Beach is not advisable as access is very steep only experienced climbers should attempt heading down. Watcombe Beach on the other hand is easy to get to, however the walk back up to the car park will get your heart racing.
- Clay was once excavated from Watcombe valley to be used for pottery that was formerly considered the best in England. The pottery opened in 1867 and produced an extensive range of products including the famous Devon Motto ware.
- The once owner of the Maidencombe Tea Gardens at Ferndale House discovered hikers had difficulty getting up the Goats Path from the Valley of the Rocks to Maidencombe. Therefore, around 1920, he cut steps into the rocky section of the path. These steps survive to this day, so next time you walk the Goats Path, you’ll know who was responsible and when it took place.
In the mid to late nineteenth century the Valley of the Rocks was a popular destination for locals and tourists as well as providing grazing rights for livestock of local farmers. Picnics atop the 150 foot Giant Rock were commonplace and the area was made famous in 1852 and 1853 when the Torquay Choral Society organized two Musical Fête’s that attracted attendances of 8,000. However the organizers made a huge loss after the 1853 event owing to the majority of attendees refusing to pay admittance, citing doubts as to the ownership of the land. There were to be no more fete’s and so eventually the exposed and dramatic rock formations were lost to encroaching vegetation.
There are no facilities in the area, so you’ll want a picnic or walk to the nearest.
- Maidencombe Beach Cafe ‘Cafe Rio’
- Orestone Manor
- The Thatched Tavern
- Watcombe Beach Cafe (Seasonal)
As you walk deeper into the woods, it’s not easy in places and there are many steps to go up and down along the way. Walking the famous Goat Path you’ll be glad to know there is a handrail to hold onto.
- Walking back up to the car park from Watcombe Beach will get your heart racing.
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