Fishcombe, Churston and the Tomato

Brixham’s ‘two for one’ deal on sheltered coves…

‘BECKY; TUNA PANINI!’ We are sat on the shingle at Fishcombe Cove and yes, the Panini is ours. The call is from the beach-cafe owner, letting us know our lunch is ready, a call that could be heard half a mile round the corner at Churston no doubt. I’m tempted to go and order more food paid for by fictitious characters until someone cottons-on, but I’m not sure the humour in it will be appreciated.

wooded views to Churston Cove Brixham Paignton
wooded views to Churston

Fishcombe is wooded, sheltered and has clear seas but despite the idyllic surroundings the vibe is a bit off, or at least it is in my mind. A guy behind us is literally bellowing at his young daughter when her exploring takes her ten feet away and the family in front almost parked themselves on top of us in a move that was more aggressive take-over than mutual beach merger.

baby in sling walking to fishcombe cove brixham
Huey’s happy hikers

The arrival of lunch is a welcome interlude to the odd body language and the bellowing. We tuck in happily and almost on cue, Huey wakes up. In the last few days we have been feeding him (or letting him play with), his first solid foods. This progression has been supervised by Becky via an approach known as ‘baby led weaning’ that I will talk about in another post.

Whilst she has read the book on B.L.W, I have not. There’s little excuse for this oversight either as she’s left it with me to read, relevant pages with post-it notes in place. Regardless, spurred on by Bec’s success and a desire to feed my child I remove a chunk of tomato from the Panini and pop it in Huey’s smiling mouth.

I can’t remember Bec’s exact warning words as I do this, as what follows is complete choking, chaos. You see the idea of B.L.W is exactly that, that the baby feeds itself, not an adult poking chunks in its mouth. Mercifully, Huey’s choking body does what it needs to do and in a few seconds the tomato is on the beach. My heart however is running around 200 bpm and I’ve already resolved to read that book, comprehensively. We manage to bring ourselves back from the edge of panic and finish our lunch, but despite the nervous laughter and my apologies to Huey we’re both of a mind to get going.

Before we’d set off today I’d done my usual boy-scout routine and worked out that you could reach a second cove from here called Churston. Instead of leaving the day on a low we decide to give this a shot and off we set. The walk from Fishcombe to Churston is a lovely affair through well established deciduous woodland that’s letting glimpses of the strong August sun strike the floor. This walk is tough, steep and requires care…as usual this is no concern to Huey who has forgotten tomato-gate and gone promptly to sleep.

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Your first view of Churston is framed by trees, looking out to an aquamarine sea and on this day a solitary, white sailing boat. Scenes like this in Torbay make me laugh; with the sun beating down this could just as easily be a sheltered spot in the Mediterranean, its absolutely lovely.

We arrive at Churston and look for somewhere to decamp. This is another shingle beach like Fishcombe but it feels much more secluded as there is no obvious access, no cafe or other facilities. If you want to get here its a hike along the South West Coast path, a swim or a boat. We decide on a peaceful grassland spot at the back of the beach, just beyond a large group of twenty somethings (how old am I exactly?).

coast path from churston to fishcombe cove brixham
beach-hike home

Settled, I decide to test the waters and take a swim, but it’s not to be. Only ten feet from the shoreline and getting everyones full attention, is a very large male grey seal. This supposed ‘cute’ inhabitant of our seas is of course inquisitive, but his presence at such close quarters is unnerving people (already in the water), to say the least.

For a few minutes I’m caught in indecision as to get in or not, then the seal ‘bites’ someone and my mind is made up. I find out later that seals, a bit like baby Huey, explore much of their world with their mouths, not generally doing much or any harm. This of course is not much solace when your biter is double your weight, immeasurably superior at swimming and out of sight! This seems to me the nearest the UK can replicate JAWS. There’s no limbs lost, no boats sank; instead a number of us mumble our concerns and retreat to the safety of the beach to watch the wildlife.

Back at base Bec’s is more than a bit surprised to see me return largely dry. Without any exaggeration I recall the story of the ferocious, biting Seal and why I took the sensible precaution of not getting in. Neither her or Huey want to swim either. Instead we luxuriate in the last of the afternoon sun and laugh about an incident that could have been a lot worse…(the Tomato, not the Seal).

Getting to Fishcombe or Churston Cove with a baby…

Both require a baby sling to get too. I would not like to try either the S.W Coast Path or the walk down to Fishcombe with a buggy. The walk between the two is particularly tricky, but worth it.

We parked on the road next to Battery Gardens but had to pay at the meter. Parking is tight here so doubtful you’ll find it for free (I will update this though if I find some!).



Ansteys Cove

Sheltered, Mediterranean style beauty only moments from Torquay town.

ansteys cove
Beautiful Ansteys Cove coming into view on the descent.

I wanted to go here as it was off the obvious shortlist of Torbay beaches. My only regret is that we may have discovered the absolute gem of the region too soon.

Ansteys Cove is backed by wooded cliffs and as soon as you make your way down the steep path you are rewarded with magnificent framed views out to sea. On the day we arrived the sun was beating down and the sea was flat as a mill pond, it was basically perfect.

What it lacks in beach, it basically makes up for with everything else. Myself and Bec’s don’t like to be too far away from refreshments so what really sealed the deal was the excellent beach cafe. As well as decent food the beach cafe also hosts a number of water sports, kayaking and the like, but we were too busy just taking in the glorious views.

Clear aquamarine sea at Ansteys Cove Torquay Devon
Sea of aquamarine at Ansteys.

Having said that I decided it was time to undertake my first Torbay sea swim so off I set. I was expecting to freeze to death but not so; as well as being completely calm it was acceptably ‘warm’ so really enjoyable, great to be back in the sea!

Free parking for Ansteys Cove!

You can of course pay for parking in the privately owned car park sat right atop of the cove.

Or like me, you can park for free on Ilsham Road. We have used this spot a dozen or so times and there is always a space. You’ll have the bonus of a 2 minute walk through the little used but lovely patch of parkland known as Stoodley Knowle.

Ansteys Cove is sign posted from the road; you can’t go wrong.

Postcode for free parking Ansteys Cove:

TQ1 2JD.



Broadsands Beach

Sea, sand, sun and a steam train…

broadsands beach paignton
Sweeping sea, sky and sand at Broadsands Beach

This is considered by most to be a Paignton beach but you find yourself well on your way to Brixham getting here. To me, everything about Broadsands is retro. It’s a family, bucket and spade beach with a great long avenue of multi-coloured beach huts and yes, that really is a stream train in the background.

Bec’s loves this place as she came here often when she was a kid, so it was wise to be positive about the place. I can’t remember why but we ended up camping out near the toilet block on the grass behind the beach? I think it was pre-Baxter (the beach shelter) days… grass and blanket is easier with a 6 month old.

Broadsands beach views into Torbay
Walkers enjoy the big blue sky on the headland above Broadsands.

Said 6 month old wasn’t so keen on the place and let his opinion known by having a bit of a meltdown. This was placated by a buggy walk which took me up to the headland lying South East of the beach. Up there its lovely. The headland takes in the South West Coastal Walk leading to Elberry Cove, which we didn’t do. Instead we camped down on the grass and enjoyed the fantastic views back out towards Torquay.

I’d like to come back, but on that steam train if its possible.