4 Mind-Blowing Reasons Torbay is One of the Most Unique Places in the World
The title for this article seems like a very bold claim to make, but we're serious, Torbay is part of a global network, called the UNESCO Global Geoparks and there are things about the place we live, that make it a very special place indeed.
First off, we hear you cry, what actually is a UNESCO Global Geopark? Put simply, it’s an area of international geological heritage and its influence on all other aspects of natural and cultural heritage in our past and society today. There are only 7 others in the UK. By being given this status, it raises and enhances awareness and understanding of Torbay’s geological heritage in history and society today. It also means that together around the world, we can try to tackle critical issues, such as using the Earth’s resources sustainably and mitigating the effects of climate change. The English Riviera Global Geopark Festival 2019 is around the corner, click here to see the leaflet and find out more.
So, what makes Torbay so unique? Well let’s get started with 4 reasons that blew our tiny minds this week…
1 / Early Man was discovered in TORQUAY
We love the adventure of heading into the darkness and depths of the Kents Caven caves in Torquay, but did you know that it holds some of the most amazing secrets to human history? Torquay Natural History Society explored the caves 80-years-ago and unearthed a jaw bone* that's estimated to be between estimated to around 41,000 years old! This makes Kents Cavern the most well known place in Britain were there is direct evidence that ancient humans and Neanderthals, spread across Europe and reached Britain far earlier than was originally thought.
*See this jaw bone in Torquay Museum. Head up to the top floor and be humbled by seeing this incredible part of human history right here in the Bay.
2 / The remnants of 300 million year old Mountains exist in Babbacombe
Babbacombe Downs is the perfect spot to eat your chips and snap an Instagram pic with a #view; but it’s the hidden geological heritage of this place that we can’t contain. Around 300 million years ago tectonic plate movements caused areas of land (now known as Africa and Europe) to crash into one another. Intense pressures over millions of years formed a vast mountain chain which stretched from North America through Cornwall and Devon to the Czech Republic. At Babbacombe, the land was even turned upside down, and the dark slates at the bottom of the cliff are younger than the pale limestones of the Downs at the top!
3 / Hyaenas, Woolly Rhinos and Mammoths Lived in Brixham
Between 59,000 to 25,000 years ago, Brixham was thriving with animals that aren't usually associated with this traditional finishing town. Fossils of spotted hyaenas, bears, wolves, lions, mammoths, woolly rhinos, horses, red deer, reindeer, and bison have been found in Brixham. Acidic rainwater trickling through the limestone dissolved some of the rock to form caves around the Brixham Bone Cavern, Bench Fissure and Ash Hole Cavern. With safety from the elements, this became the perfect living conditions for early humans, and animals. The most critical were spotted hyaenas, which used the caves as dens and could bring down animals as large as a woolly rhinoceros! There's even evidence that Neanderthals also lived in the cave systems, with discoveries of campsites with flint flakes and tools which date back to 200,000 years ago. Who knew?!
4 / Devonian Controversy!
Back in the 1830’s our geological story was the cause of most heated geological debates and a very public disagreement in the national media! Who’d have thought that the limestones of Torbay - which were formed in beautiful warm tropical seas, bathed in wonderful sunshine south of the equator - would become so controversial. After much public mud-slinging, the pioneering geologists finally agreed and recognition of the fossils at sites in the Bay helped clarify the understanding of what was happening on Earth around 400 million years ago. Ultimately, our rocks contributed to the naming and global recognition of the ‘Devonian’ geological time period, yes, after Devon!
So when you clicked on this article, almost not believing the title, we bet you didn’t expect to hear how important and unique Torbary really is to the world’s geological heritage. Want to get more involved? There’s a Geopark Festival running from 25 May - 31 May 2019 at sites across the Bay. Go see, learn and be proud of the special place we call home. For more info about the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark, visit the website or check out the leaflet.