Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesExploring South Devon

Torquay By Ferry

By Ren Withnell

Crossing Date 14 September 2018

Gosh darn it. We've been south, north and inland. We could go further afield but with a long ride ahead tomorrow and the day after and the potential for some rain today we're just not feeling it. It's our last full day here though. Best do something and make the most of it.

We haven't made it into Torquay. The notion of battling with the traffic on this grey day is far from enticing but there is another option that we saw while walking by the harbour last night. A ferry. 

Regular readers know I love a good ferry. There's an interesting twist to this one though, it is but a passenger ferry, there'll be no motorcycling. Considering the traffic around here that may well not be a bad thing all things considered. We shall prepare some sandwiches and a drink, walk into Brixham, catch the foot ferry to Torquay and see what it's all about. 

Maybe today won't be a washout? There's a soft breeze in the air as we walk into town and as we wait for our boat to arrive we and our fellow passengers are tying jumpers around waists or stuffing them into bags. Sharon is slightly concerned she may experience some sea-sickness, thankfully the crossing is only a half hour.

As we leave the harbour on the ferry we see the fishing trawlers in Brixham
Brixham harbour is a working harbour.

Once out into the bay the boat bobs along, Sharon appears fine, maybe just a teeny tad queezy. 

From here we get a fresh new perspective of the bay, Tor Bay. Brixham is quite a good sized harbour, separated from the sprawling mass of Paignton and Torquay by a swathe of rust coloured rock cliffs and the odd green patch. We can barely make out the beaches and the funfairs but they are there. As Torquay comes into view the shoreline is dominated by a large ferris wheel. 

A long strip of distant shoreline with towns and green areas just visible
Out there is Paignton and round to Torquay. And traffic.

With a shudder we bump into the harbour wall and disembark. There's no beach within view just the concrete and stonework of a marina. Unlike Brixham there are no fishing vessels and associated industrial buildings, these are leisure boats, yachts and dinghies. Up on the hill to one side is what looks like a swish expensive hotel yet to the other side are 3 rather drab beige tower blocks set curiously behind nicer buildings.

I'm reminded of Santander earlier this year. Same threat of rain, same sensation of being in a city, same contrasts between the common folks and the yacht owning Mercedes driving polished nails types. It's not as chaotic as Santander, but then I'm on foot which is always a calmer form of transport in such places. 

Rows of smart modern and flashy yachts in the marina at Torquay
Torquay's harbour doesn't appear to involve much physical grafting.

What can I say? We walk down the main shopping street while eating freshly fried doughnuts. Everything is here - TK Max, Lloyds Bank, Starbucks and a plethora of fast food shops. The architecture at times speaks of maybe the early 1900s but it is struggling. Fine, everything is fine. Tidy, safe, well presented and emotionally flat.

After ducking into Sports Direct to avoid a shower we head back to the harbour. We look at the ferris wheel but at £6 each we don't bother. As it rolls slowly round it seems no-one else has bothered either. Nothing, nada. I have no feelings towards this place at all. 

A long street of shop in Torquay
The is nothing wrong with Torquay - but...

I ponder. Blackpool is equally ordinary and yet I at least feel SOMETHING about it, but why? Skegness too. It's the story, the experience, the personal history, that's the only thing that makes sense. 

I went to Blackpool aged about 5. My friend's dad was driving while my friend and I stood on the passenger seat, our heads poking out the open sunroof. It was dark and we were in awe at the amazing lights all along the promenade. Some of my first motorcycle rides aged 18 took me to Blackpool. I've been to rallies there. I've had occasion to work there. I met Cath's long lost half brother there who was working for some weird little start-up in America called "Space-X". 

I don't particularly like Blackpool but it has meaning and context for me. For Torquay there will be people who recall delightful childhood holidays, grandma spoiling them with ice-creams, drunken nights and laughing with friends until dawn. I feel nothing.

After the large town of Torquay Brixham seems positively quaint. Context dear boy, context. We ponder a meal but nothing is grabbing our attention, instead we grab some food from the small Tesco and make our way back to the static for the last time. And so it is we're packing once more and tidying the caravan. There's no real rush tomorrow and our trip is not quite over, but we may as well be ready huh?

Brixham's pretend sailing vessel the golden hind
Ahh Brixham, you're not so bad after all.


If you'd like to advertise here on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Riding To Devon It's a long and arduous trip down south to Devon. Or - perhaps Ren is being a drama queen and a bitter cynic.
A Walk Around Brixham Our intrepid motorcycle muppets don't even touch a motorcycle today. In fact it's quite a day for doing things differently for Sharon!
Dartmouth, Slapton and Salcombe South of Brixham the coastal landscape is proving to be quite rural and enjoyable for Sharon and Ren.
The English Riviera - Urgh The dynamic muppets take a haphazard tour of The English Riviera. What will the crankiest two-wheeled twit make of it all?
ButtFast And Buckfast Abbey Ren is having and uncomfortable day. There are things that should not be shared and Ren is sharing them here. Oh dear.
Rocks And A Better Brixham Sharon And Ren scrabble over rocks on Dartmoor and Ren reviews his opinions regarding Brixham
Torquay By Ferry Sharon and Ren bob along the ocean waves to see what Torquay is all about. Context dear boy, context.
Going Home From Devon There's only the small matter or riding home from Devon now for the dynamic muppets. Can Sharon recover from her breakfast tragedy though?
Lessons from Devon Ren is pondering the problems with the trip to Devon.

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