Panoramic views, heaps of history and a great diversity of wildlife - Berry Head has it all
- Credit: Keith Perry
Berry Head Nature Reserve, our most designated heritage site, provides inspirational panoramic views of Torbay as well as its greatest diversity of wildlife.
It's a must visit destination for lovers of the great outdoors and all that it has to offer and its custodians, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and their partners, have done a splendid job to ensure excellent accessibility for all.
From the pay-on-exit car park (£1.50 an hour), enter the site via the latched gates beside the cattle grid and follow the level path which eventually splits in two directions.
Take the right hand route which leads to the North Fort - one of the reserve’s two garrison forts dating back to 1795 - via another latched gate.
Inside the fort is the Guardhouse Cafe - currently offering a takeaway service - and visitor centre which is closed at present due to Covid restrictions.
At the rear of the centre follow the route across the grass to a sloping pathway leading to the bird hide, a great place to spot some of the reserve’s 200 bird species, in particular its guillemot colony which is the UK’s only area of Special Protection, prohibiting boats from entering the cove below during the breeding season.
Walking to the end of the headland you will pass the artillery store, which is currently closed but when open provides information about the greater horse shoe bats that live in the caves on the reserve.
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Beside the coastguard rescue team headquarters is the UK’s shortest, highest and deepest lighthouse and at the very end you will find a compass set in stone - and a chance to take in the breath-taking scenery all around you.
Heading out of the North Fort follow the path to the left which will take you to the South Fort although on my visit, access was restricted.
There are a number of walks around the park worthy of exploration most of which link to the coastal path and one leads to the VOR/DME beacon which is used for air traffic control, although with the march of technology, this beacon and others around the country act as a safety back up for the satellite systems which have replaced them.
* The reserve is dog friendly but they need to be kept on a lead in many areas to protect the wildlife. Most areas are designed be accessible for wheelchair users and mobility vehicles are available for hire by prior arrangement. Contact the ranger’s office for information via the informative Countryside Trust website for more information.