News from the Geopark

The English Riviera Walking Festival Returns 4 – 19 May 2024

7 Feb 2024

Step ahead with the English Riviera Walking Festival which returns from 4 – 19 May 2024. Residents and visitors are invited to a friendly two-week celebration of South Devon’s breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

The festival is organised by the English Riviera BID Company in partnership with Torbay Council, and boasts an exciting lineup of 25 half and full day coastal walks led by experienced and enthusiastic local guides. The English Riviera (Torquay, Paignton and Brixham) is a walker’s paradise, with its mild climate and numerous walking trails through woodland and along the South West Coast Path. This dog-friendly festival offers something for walkers of all abilities, ranging from a 1.5-mile sunset stroll to a 15-mile coastal challenge. Solo travellers, couples, families, and groups will have the opportunity to discover the English Riviera’s hidden gems, to breathe in the fresh sea air and embrace the natural beauty of the area. Festival organiser Graham Kerr says, “This year's Walking Festival programme is the biggest and the best ever. Come and experience one of Earth's extraordinary places.”

Together with the return of favourite walks from previous years, the 2024 festival includes ten brand new walking adventures including: An Extraordinary Walking Experience, a spectacular day’s outing around Dartmouth via steam train and ferry; and Take a Walk on the Wine Side, an adult-only walk through country lanes to Sandridge Barton, home of Sharpham Wines, for lunch and a wine-tasting tour. Other new walks offer the opportunity to try foraging, or to experience sunset coastal yoga, sunrise coastal meditation, and much more.

This year’s festival sees the return of popular walks for nature-lovers, including the UNESCO Geopark Coastal Walk exploring the breathtaking South West Coast Path and the area’s fascinating geology, and the Coastal Nature Ramble around Brixham’s Berry Head National Nature Reserve. For the green-fingered, take a tour around Torre Abbey’s historic gardens and grounds, discovering Potent Plants and Exotic Palms with head gardener Ali Marshall.

Keen walkers are invited to step up for the two day Walk the Bay Challenge. This is the chance to walk the English Riviera coastline from end to end and experience the South West Coast Path at its finest. Day One is Torquay to Brixham, and Day Two is Torquay to Shaldon. Along the way, your two experienced tour guides promise to provide interesting facts and entertaining anecdotes to help take your minds off the climbs.

There’s plenty of family fun on the 2-mile Aaaarrrr you with us Shipmates? walk. With Brixham’s annual Pirate Festival as a colourful backdrop, expect sea shanties and tales of pirate adventures - bad pirate jokes and pirate-dress welcome.

There are spooky tales afoot on Ghosts, Ghouls and Goosebumps, and discover the English Riviera’s fascinating musical associations on a Magical Musical Sunset Tour.

The English Riviera is famous for being the birthplace of Agatha Christie. The Walking Festival pays homage to the Queen of Crime with three walking outings: Walking in Agatha Christie’s Footsteps, a circular walk taking in Elberry Cove and Agatha’s holiday home Greenway; The Story of Agatha Christie’s Extraordinary Life, the festival’s most popular tour tracing the author’s life through stops along Torquay’s seafront; and Swimming with Agatha Christie, visiting some of Agatha’s favourite bathing spots - with the chance of taking a quick dip too.

History lovers will relish the chance to discover the little-known corners and long-forgotten tales of our three towns, with walks including Paignton’s Hidden History, Brixham’s Secret Lanes and Passageways, and in Torquay there is the new Blue Plaque Heritage Trail and Torquay’s Secret Stories Revealed. The Walking Festival spans three weekends, making it the perfect excuse to take a break and make new memories. The English Riviera has a wealth of walker-friendly accommodation, and with over 300 eateries, first-class attractions, and great local and national transport links, it makes the ideal destination for a walking holiday.

To book tickets, and for details of each walk including ticket price, distance and duration, visit englishriviera.co.uk/walking-festival. Early bird prices start from just £10 per walk per person.