Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Exploring Torbay's UNESCO Geopark - Hope's Nose

Hope's Nose, Torquay 
Often when on walks Dave and I find ourselves wishing for the guidance of a pop-up Expert - as happens on the TV programme Coast for example. Whenever an interesting historical ruin or geological feature hoves into view, the presenter is always greeted by someone who can explain the site. In contrast we make observations, wonder about it and invent a plausible explanation, but usually walk away absolutely none the wiser. This seems especially true in the UK. French and Spanish regional councils seem far more proactive at putting up explanatory signs - often multilingual - as part of walking tourist routes. It's a cheap way to attract visitors after all.

However, on a Torquay walk from our home yesterday, I was delighted to not only visit an important geological site, but also to be given lots of clear information about what we could see! I didn't realise until we moved here that the English Riviera is designated a UNESCO Global Geopark because of the extensive geological landscape: "A landscape untouched by glaciation, revealing stories unseen elsewhere in the world. Stories of tropical seas and scorching deserts, raised beaches and drowned forests, hippopotami and mammoth, straight-tusked elephant and sabre-toothed tiger, cave bear and earliest man." There's an incredible story to be discovered here, understandable even for a geology novice like me, and I am excited to learn more.

If you are around Torbay at the end of May and beginning of June this year - the half-term holiday week - check out the range of events being put on in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. There's a calendar on the Geopark Website. Entertainment ranges from a Sculpture Trail at Cockington to prehistoric modelling at Brixham, cookery at Occombe Farm to street art fossils at Torre Abbey. Most events look to be kid-focused.

Yesterday we visited the charmingly named Hope's Nose which is within a half hour's walk from our flat and visitable all year round. If you go there yourself make sure to pause by the noticeboard at the roadside. I took photos of the half dozen or so geological sights which include different eras of ancient limestone and sandstone rocks as well as layers of fossils and a raised beach. It's all things that I would be unlikely to identify alone, but the clear photographs on the board give a clear indication of what to look out for. There's also beautiful views out to sea.


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