About our Geopark
In September 2007 the English Riviera received international recognition for its rich geological, historical and cultural heritage, it became one of just 57 areas around the world to endorsed by UNESCO and welcomed into both the European and Global Geopark Networks. Since then the Global Geopark Network has grown and as of 2020 there are now 161 UNESCO Global Geoparks.
Situated within the stunning, rolling hills of South Devon, Torbay's geology has created the beautiful coastline of today, which fundamentally links the rich diversity of landscape with wildlife, people and culture.
Undeniably, the geological tale behind the English Riviera Geopark is quite spectacular and one of extremes. From a seascape bathed in the warm and beautiful tropical seas of the Marine Devonian to a landscape of arid, barren Permian desert and from our earliest relatives, living in caves, to modern civilization. The Geopark's outstanding historical contribution, both in terms of the development of geological and archaeological sciences is astounding, from the Huttonian Theory, to the naming of the Devonian Period by Sedgwick and Murchison and even Pengelly's discoveries influencing world wide public opinion as to the antiquity of man.
The shape of the Bay provided the naval fleet safety during times of crisis and thus was a catalyst for the building of the Napoleonic Forts while its sheltered natural harbours led to the growth of what, at one point, became the UK's largest fishing port. The beauty of the area influenced the early development of a tourism industry thus instigating the requirement for the exploitation of its geological resources in the form of extensive limestone quarrying, in addition to the marble and terracotta industries.
The English Riviera resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham lie, like a be-jewelled necklace, around one of the most beautiful bays in England. The resort is a top destination for visitors from around the country and indeed the world and its history as a popular resort stretches back centuries.
The stunning coast line features 20 beaches and coves and the highest concentration of Blue Flag beaches in England. The 20 mile coast path is part of the South West Coast Path and is complemented by many miles of country rambles and beautiful nature reserves.
As a long established year-round resort, visitors will always find a fantastic range of activities on offer and amazing attractions to visit such as the world class Paignton Zoo and the truly unique Kents Cavern with the earliest evidence of man in Europe. Away from the coast, Devonýs delightful rolling countryside holds many treasures to explore from pretty market towns to the striking beauty of Dartmoor. South Devon is famed for its food and boasts a very high concentration of organic food producers. Few visitors will miss the chance to savour the fruits of the sea, landed in the bustling port of Brixham.
The unique combination of a superb geological resource, well-developed tourism facilities, a dedicated and innovative conservation trust and well-developed partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors makes this area well placed to develop a dynamic and successful Geopark, promoting geological heritage and sustainable development for the 21st Century.