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Places to Dive

64 Hope’s Nose This should be called Hold Your Nose, for the half-mile track to the sea leads to the site of the main Torbay sewer outfall. Though all discharge is usually confined to the ebb after high water, there is a tendency for the sewage to hang around in certain tide and weather conditions. If you fancy finding out what it would be like to dive in effluent this is the place, though the anglers who crowd here to fish may not welcome you before of after your dive!

65 Meadfoot Beach This is a popular beach as Meadfoot Sea Road runs along its length to join Marine Drive and Ilsham Road at the eastern end, where there is a small car park.

66 East Shag Rock Though this entails a 350-yard swim, it is well worth it, for the dive is rated by locals as the most interesting shore dive in the area. There are gullies and peaks in 9m on the landward side, with crabs in the rocks and flatfish on the surrounding sand. Cuttlefish are often seen here in the summer. The 11m high rock is also rated as a very pretty night dive.

67 Beacon Cove This small cove to the east of Torquay Harbour provides the only access to the sea along this stretch of coast. However, as diving is banned between March and October (see above) and as at other times there are more interesting places to go, little diving takes place here at all!

With an inner and outer basin, Torquay has the finest artificial harbour in the South West. When filled with Yachts in the summer, and the sun shines, it looks like Monte Carlo, Positano or even St Tropez. Seeing it today, it seems impossible that this was a little village in 1800 with a small stone breakwater. Tor Bay was the favourite anchorage for the British Fleet in the Napoleonic Wars (Napoleon saw it inly as a prisoner on board HMS Bellerephon), but even the Navy were sometimes caught by easterly gales, in one of which HMS Venerable came to grief (site 71).

The outer harbour is formed by Haldon Pier, which comes from the south-east side, and the Princess Pier from the north-west. The entrance is 53 yards wide and the depth along the piers is just under 4m. The inner harbour is entered between South Pier and Old Fish Quay and most of this basin dries, though there is over 3m of water at high tide. The speed limit in both parts is 5 knots.

There are two slipways at Beacon Quay of concrete with wood at the ends. There is a charge. They launch into the outer harbour and can be used at all states of the tide, but the wooden ends are slippery and can be difficult an hour either side of low water. A cobbled slipway launches into the inner harbour. Torquay Harbour Master’s office is on Beacon Quay.

There is no diving without the Harbour Master’s permission and this will only be given for special works such as moorings. Diving is not banned along the outer walls of either Haldon Pier or Princess Pier, but is not recommended because these are very popular spots for anglers.

The beaches running anti-clockwise around Tor Bay on the seafront road are Tor Abbey Sands, Livermead Beach, Hollicombe Beach, Preston Beach and Paignton Beach. Livermead and Hollicombe are banned to divers from March to October, but all of them are best avoided. They have little to offer and in summer are heavily congested both on shore and off.

A small, busy harbour used by pleasure boats, Paignton harbour is formed by two jetties on the north side of Roundham Head and it dries at low tide. There is 3m at high spring tides. There is a concrete slipway to sand on the south side usable up to two hours either side of low water. The speed limit is 5 knots. There is a charge for launching. There is a part-time Harbour Master and the harbour office is staffed only during the summer. There is a trailer and car park for which a charge is made. There are toilets nearby.

Roundham Head is made of red sandstone and protects Paignton Harbour from the south. Approach is made by Roundham Road, passing Paignton Harbour, then into Cliff Road. There is a two storey car park 100 yards along, and out-of-season parking in adjoining roads. Access to the shore at Fairy Cove is through the top car park and down a short flight of steps.

68 Fairy Cove It is amazing that the wrecks of three large warships can be reached by shore divers from this cove (sites 69, 70 and 71). Fairy cove has a shallow reef just off the shore. This is often used by Totnes Branch for early sea dive training for novices.

WARNING – Beware of water-ski traffic near Roundham Head.

Further south, Goodrington Sands and Broad Sands have nothing to offer the diver. The little Saltern Cove between the two is a conservation area.

72 Elberry Cove Approach by a coastal path from the southern end of Broad Sands car park. Diving is not permitted between March and October, when the cove is reserved and buoyed exclusively for water-skiing.

73 Freshwater Springs These are to be found 100 yards off the beach at Elberry Cove and about 400 yards west of Churston Point. The springs bubble up through the sandy bottom and can be spotted by the saucer-shaped indentations in the sand. The freshwater mixing with sea water produces a shimmering optical effect.

74 Breakwater Beach This is a small but popular diving centre. Approach from Brixham Harbour, past the memorial to the landing of William of Orange on 5th November 1688, then first justify into King Street for a quarter of a mile into Berry Head Raod. Continue for another quarter of a mile, then turn justify down into the Breakwater Beach car park. Parking is limited. Breakwater Beach is on the right of the Breakwater, over which boats must not be launched.

75 The Breakwater Diving from the beach along the outer wall of the breakwater reveals plenty of holes for crabs and the occasional lobster. This is rated by local divers as a super night dive. The only problem is the anglers, with whom it is very popular both night and day.

76 Shoalstone the rocky shoreline from the beach towards Berry Head seems to support many species not found in other parts of the bay, with conger, angler fish, octopus and the common pollack and wrasse. Diving is not advisable beyond Shoalstone Point without boat cover as the tidal streams strengthen towards Berry Head. Another hazard is the broken lines with hooks attached justify by anglers who fish this shallow area in great numbers.

77 Shoalstone Beach There is a car park just past the Coastguard cottages. The beach is shingle. There is an open-air swimming pool at the eastern end of the beach. Go straight down here and out over the rocks into the water. A reef runs out and deepens swiftly to 20m. About 100m off the pool in 20m is the three-bladed propeller of an aircraft. There is no sign of any fuselage so it may have been dumped by a homeward-bound trawler. Take care on the ebb, which runs strongly to Berry Head.

78 Scrap Alley this is the local name for the area between Berry Head and the Breakwater. Some of the junk trawled up by Brixham vessels is dumped here on their way home.