Sometimes, like many men, I reserve my dad’s prerogative to bore my children with ‘dad-facts.’ Up at Berry Head, near Brixham, the ‘dad-fact’ I like to share with my children takes the form of a riddle: ‘How can this be both the highest and lowest lighthouse in England?’ The answer is that the lighthouse itself is a tiny little thing, only a few feet high but that it is also the tallest as it is built on such a high cliff that the top of it is 190 feet above sea level.
There are many paths to take on Berry Head, you can head to either of the two ruined forts or walk down to the Bird Hide or nature centre. But most people head straight for the Headland. The views across Torbay and beyond are spectacular. On a clear day you can see 46 miles from the top of the cliffs to Portland Bill. My children love the lookout point and follow the lines on the obelisk which tell them all the places they are looking at. My wife loves it less, partly because she worries about the children standing too close to the cliff edge, and partly because as soon as I see Portland Bill I start singing a ditty based on a programme from my childhood: ‘Oh Come with me to the rolling sea while the weather’s calm and still, And you shall see what we shall see, the lighthouse at Portland Bill.’
Luckily for me, my children are still young enough to laugh at me rather than die of embarrassment. There is a lovely cafe called The Guard House Cafe which sells itself as child-friendly, dog-friendly and walker-friendly - it definitely seems to be all three. For children there is a small area of toys where my children flock. Next to the cafe is a visitor centre which is only small but has some nifty little cards that can be scanned on the computers. One has letters from a soldier who was billeted at the fort. There are also numerous cards about the nature of the area. The cliffs themselves are a great place to spot sea birds including cormorants, Guillemots and Kittiwakes and out to sea people often spot Dolphins, seals and porpoises. The area is also home to the rare Cirl Buntings. I really recommend a walk on Berry Head, you can even trot out my patented ‘dad fact.’