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Babbacombe Bay

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Overview





Babbacombe Bay is a northeast facing bay situated three miles south of Teignmouth and less than two miles north of Tor Bay on England's south coast. The open bay offers visiting boats an anchorage and the opportunity to pick up mooring buoys close to its small stone pier.

Tucked in below high cliffs the bay offers good shelter from west of north round through west to southwest even in strong conditions. Approaches are straightforward at all stages of the tide in daylight as there are no outlying dangers.



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Keyfacts for Babbacombe Bay
Facilities
Water available via tapHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
5 metres (16.4 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
November 28th 2018

Summary

A good location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged



Moorings  +44 1803 327110      enquiries@caryarms.co.uk    
Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 28.860' N, 003° 30.467' W

This is 100 metres northeast of the pier on the perimeter of the mornings.

What is the initial fix?

The following Babbacombe Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
50° 29.060' N, 003° 30.315' W
This is about 600 metres off the shore in the middle of the bay and just outside the 5-metre contour.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location. The outer approaches are clear of dangers, and the bay is steep-to to the shoreline. An approach from the northeast, through the centre of the bay, presents no hazards.


Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Babbacombe Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Anstey’s Cove - 0.4 miles SE
  2. Watcombe Cove - 0.6 miles NNW
  3. Hope Cove - 0.7 miles SE
  4. Torquay - 1 miles SSW
  5. Paignton - 2.1 miles SSW
  6. Teignmouth - 2.2 miles N
  7. Brixham - 2.8 miles S
  8. Dittisham & The River Dart - 4.2 miles SSW
  9. The Bight - 5.2 miles NNE
  10. Dartmouth Harbour - 5.3 miles SSW
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Anstey’s Cove - 0.4 miles SE
  2. Watcombe Cove - 0.6 miles NNW
  3. Hope Cove - 0.7 miles SE
  4. Torquay - 1 miles SSW
  5. Paignton - 2.1 miles SSW
  6. Teignmouth - 2.2 miles N
  7. Brixham - 2.8 miles S
  8. Dittisham & The River Dart - 4.2 miles SSW
  9. The Bight - 5.2 miles NNE
  10. Dartmouth Harbour - 5.3 miles SSW
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Babbacombe Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Babbacombe Bay is a northeast facing bay situated 1½ miles northwest of Hope's Nose opening between Long Quarry Point and Petit Tor Quarry nearly a mile to the northwest. Oddicombe Beach lies in the northern part of the bay and a stone pier lies in the south end overlooked by popular Cary Arms restaurant.

The bay's best mooring positions are occupied by the Cary Arms Moorings just off the stone pier. Moorings are priced at £20 per day and £40 for boats overnighting. Mooring charges are reduced by £10 when dining. Payments are made at the Inn. P: +44 1803 327110, E: enquiries@caryarms.co.uk.

The extensive bay provides ample space for anchoring outside the buoys in very good sand holding, albeit slightly less protected from southerlies.


How to get in?
Babbacombe's stone pier with the moorings laid close northward
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location for seaward approaches. Three church towers, two spires and one square at the north end, standing out on the skyline above Babbacombe Bay provides prominent seamarks from the east.


Babbacombe's stone pier and Carey Arms as seen from the north
Image: Julian Walker via CC BY-SA 2.0


Haven location Pick up the moorings or anchor clear of them in the south side of the bay where good sand holding will be found. Land at the stone pier or on the beach close inside. Those intending on tieing up alongside the pier should bring a long line as the wall is very high. In settled conditions, where there is little surf, it is also possible to land on Oddicombe Beach that lies in the north part of the bay.

Land at the pier or the beach further inshore
Image: Michael Harpur


Keep clear of the centre of the beach close inshore as there are some uncharted rocky heads that dry up to a metre.


Why visit here?
The name Babbacombe was first recorded c. 1200 as Babbecumbe and its name is believed to have stemmed from an owner called Babba. His name was conjoined with the ancient Celtic word cumbe, also coomb or combe, that largely only survives today in place names meaning ‘deep hollow’ or ‘valley’ and especially one on a flank of a hill. So Babbacombe means 'valley of a man called Babba'.


'The Glen' overlooking Babbacombe beach
Image: Public Domain
The Downs above the bay has seen human activity and settlement since prehistoric times. A series of individual fields and their boundary banks found there was once part of a larger field system that dates from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages c.1200-800 BC. The urban centre of St Marychurch has its origins in a Saxon settlement that dates from the 8th century. The tiny hamlet of Babbacombe began as a cluster of buildings between what is now occupied by the Glen and Cary Arms Hotels. There little happened for centuries save for fishing, some smuggling and a little nearby quarrying.

It was 1662 when the influential Cary family moved into Torre Abbey taking ownership of the land at Cockington, St Marychurch and Babbacombe. It would be a century later before they took much intrest in the bay. Then, in the latter end of the 18th-century, the restorative qualities of the sea were becoming appreciated and the potential of having houses at the seafront became attractive to the family.

Portrait of Princess Victoria 1833
Image: Public Domain
It was noted in 1817…‘you ascend on the down, overhanging those stupendous cliffs, which terminate in the pebbly beach of Babbicombe (sic), on which, and amidst the cliffs of the beetling rocks, stand some picturesque cottages, which the romantic situation of this hamlet has induced the owners to build for their summer residences; but the most beautiful is that of Mr. Cary, constructed of the rudest materials…

Later in 1829, another guide noted the attraction… ’Proceeding onward we reach Babbicombe, a romantic rocky glen, twenty years since there were only a few fishermen’s huts, but the beauty of the spot having excited attention, several ornamental cottages have been built, and gardens formed along the steep sides of the hill and amongst the rocks, which have to great degree destroyed the beauty of the scene, depending as it does on its wild secluded character’.

The Carys, who were amongst the first to build in the bay but it would be the Whitehead family that would bring star quality to the bay with their Royal connections. The Whiteheads family, with two daughters, moved into a large thatched house on the shore known as ‘The Glen’. It had a garden room detached from the house and built right on the shoreline with uninterrupted views of the sea. Mrs Elizabeth Whitehead had been Lady-in-Waiting to the Duchess when living at Sidmouth some years before and attended the baby princess Victoria. So when the young princess was in Torquay in 1833 she was driven out to visit Mrs Whithead at 'The Glen'.


Babbacombe in 1890 with the 'The Glen' still present
Image: Public Domain


The bay made an indelible mark on the fourteen-year-old princess and when she was queen, Victoria visited the bay twice more. Once in 1846 on the Royal Yacht, when she did not land but recorded in her journal… 'It is a beautiful spot... Red cliffs and rocks with wooded hills like Italy, and reminding one of a ballet or play where nymphs appear - such rocks and grottoes, with the deepest sea on which there was no ripple.' She visited again in 1852 where she was taken close to the shore in a rowing boat so that she could admire and sketch the scenery.


Babbacombe's stone pier with the Carey Arms above
Image: Michael Harpur


Landing facilities remained primitive long after and boats had to be hauled up onto the beach until 1889 when the existing breakwater was built. For a brief period afterwards, it became a tourist destination. In 1926, a cliff railway was built down to Oddicombe Beach so that tourists could ride up the cliff and see the view of the sea. It still attracted those seeking holidays from the cities from the 1930s up until the 1950s; but by the 1960s, Babbacombe gradually became run down. In 1963, a historic model village was built nearby to attract tourists. In the early 2000s, there was a concerted effort to beautify and refurbish the area with footpaths and similar wild garden attractions.


The view north over Babbacombe Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Visiting boaters will find little has changed from the time of Victoria. Today there are often dolphins around the bay and a seal who has taken to making a living from the mackerel people feed it from the pier. The chic, low-key luxury of the refurbished Cary Arms continues its centuries-old trade. Its cool beer has slaked the thirst of many a passing boater and their excellent menu has something suitable for all the family. Above all, it wonderful view out over the boat in the bay and beyond it the perfect complement to any meal.


Babbacombe Cliff Railway today
Image: Andrew


For those looking for a more modest meal, a more humble cafe will be found along the shore. A few hundred yards away is a cliff railway, up to the top for some great views that manages to still carry a quarter of a million passengers a year.


The very unrushed Babbacombe Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, the high cliffs keep the bay flat as a pancake in most all westerly conditions although in more developed conditions the occasional gust may drop down to suddenly swing the boat around in circles. Just five miles from Torquay, around Hope's Nose, it is a wonderful escape from the bustling havens of Tor Bay. Well sheltered from all westerlies Babbacombe, Anstey's Cove and Hope Cove all make convenient departure points to cross Lyme Bay, 40 miles to Portland Bill, or an ideal breakpoint for any longer passages along the coast.


What facilities are available?
The refurbished Cary Arms and a cafe are immediately ashore from the stone pier. The Babbacombe Corinthian Sailing Club has a clubhouse at Oddicombe Beach. Behind the commercial buildings and there is a fresh water tap. Oddicombe beach also has an extensive fast-food outlet.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, eOceanic.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




Babbacombe Bay, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The stone pier with its resident seal
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Babbacombe's resident seal
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The moorings off the head of the pier and the landing beach on the shore
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Carey Arms mooring board
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Oddicombe Beach in the north end of the bay
Image: eOceanic thanks David Dixon via CC BY-SA 2.0


Babbacombe Corinthian Sailing Club launching boats
Image: eOceanic thanks Derek Harper via CC BY-SA 2.0


Oddicombe Beach hill train
Image: eOceanic thanks Julian Walker via CC BY-SA 2.0




Babbacombe Bay aerial views



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