Torbay Limestones IPA

Location: Devon, at the northern and southern extremities of Torbay, and immediately adjacent to the Victorian seaside resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

Grid Reference: SX 943 634 / SX 944 565


Torbay Limestones IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • The species richness of vascular plants in dry Calcareous (Limestone) grassland, Rock cliffs, ledges and shores, including the supralittoral.

  • About Torbay Limestones

    The Torbay Limestones are a group of headlands made up of limestone laid down around 400 million years ago - in a period appropriately called the Devonian.

    The flat topped headlands support a mosaic of grassland, limestone heath, rock, cliff and scrub communities, noted for their exceptional floristic richness.

    Wildflowers you could see at Torbay Limestones

    At both the north and south, cliffs ascend from the sea to a sizeable area of exposed limestone grassland: both of these support a wide variety of plants characteristic of this underlying geology: Portland spurge, rock sea-lavender, goldilocks aster and rock stonecrop. Several species, such as wild cabbage, Autumn squill and the bee orchid with a restricted distribution in South Devon may also be found at the IPA. In the north the cliffs are vegetated, in part, by woodland scrub; here one can see wood spurge, dog’s mercury, pignut, ramsons, sanicle and spurge laurel.

    More acidic conditions are home to species such as heather and bell heather. On the National Nature Reserve at Berry Head, 8 different species of orchid may be found during summer months.

    The limestone supports many species of lichen such as Caloplaca sp., Bacidia muscorum and Rinodina bishoffii.

    Image: Torbay Limestones IPA © Ray Woods/Plantlife