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ISSUE 9 ARCHIVE - A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE TORQUAY AND DARTMOUTH AREA

As the winter days begin to lengthen, it is about time to start thinking about the spring diving season, if you haven't already been jumping into the chilly waters snug in your Fourth Element thermals throughout the winter.

The spring can offer some fascinating diving around the UK and if you haven't already dipped your head in the shallow bay of Babbacombe in Devon you are really missing a marine spectacle. Every year, in April/May, large numbers of cuttlefish come here to mate and lay their eggs providing divers with a great opportunity to watch the behaviour of these amazing, intelligent animals.
Maldives Diving Adventure
Dive Shop This part of the Devon coast has some great sites to explore when you are not watching cephalopods – The Bretagne, a premier wreck that was sunk during a collision in fog in 1918 is host to a variety of classic British marine life and there is a wide choice of scenic diving ready to explore.

Food & Booze
There are many places that you can really stuff your face with locally-produced food down here in South Devon:

Book a tour at Riverford Farm (yep, that's one of the country's leading home-delivery organic food suppliers) and enjoy the 'Field Kitchen' which serves organically grown food from the surrounding land.
Tel: 01803 762074
Landscapey Bit Just South of Dartmouth there is the perfect British beach café (Venus Beach Café) with top burgers and crab salads down on Blackpool Sands, with bargain cream teas using locally-produced clotted cream – ooh, nothing quite like the English seaside.
Tel: 01803 770606

If you've not had much joy with teasing out those lobsters from their hidey-holes, then pop into Mitch Tonks's Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth which serves fresh-from-the-boat crab, lobster and cuttlefish caught by local fishermen.
Tel: 01803 835147
Ralf Tech
OK – so you're still waiting to find out where to get your pint in front of a big, open fire. Well, you can't really beat the enticing Maltsters Arms in Tuckenhay on the River Dart. Set in an idyllic location it has its own jetty and guest beers all year round with barbeques on the quayside in the summer. Rooms are available here too.
Tel: 01803 732350

A Good Night's Kip
Keeping it cheap and cheerful the Coast View Holiday Park, just North of Torquay provides caravan and camping and if you really want to get warm and dry after your dive, then they have chalets too.
Tel: 01626 872392

The Morningside Hotel in Babbacombe is a great recommendation with stunning views on the cliffs overlooking the sea and good value rooms.
Tel: 01803 327025

The luxurious Cary Arms right on Babbacombe Beach provides a beautiful setting with rooms and cottages (max 8 people). You can always pop into the pub for a pint or some food if you can't afford the rooms.
Tel: 01803 327110

Down in Dartmouth The New Angel will keep the celebsearchers happy. The restaurant is run by celebrity chef, John Burton Race (AA Restaurant of the Year 2005) and accommodation is in a house on a nearby side street. Not only can you feed your belly well and relax in plush, relaxed surroundings, your diving can even be arranged on their own boat – The New Angel. Charters don't need to be exclusively for diving, but you can mix and match from: catch and dine; culinary delights afloat; restaurant cruise; fishing; watersports; sightseeing and even the water-bed (oh that would be interesting for a dive club!)
Tel: 01803 839425
Other diver-friendly places to stay include:
Brooklands (run by a diver)
Tel: 01803 296696

Clovelly Guesthouse
Tel 01803 292 286

The Downs
Tel: 0845 051 0989

Churchill's Hotel
Tel 01803 882 671

Out and About
Personally I think you'll find me diving, eating and sleeping whilst down here. But for those of you with a little more energy then do visit Greenway House (Tel: 01803 842382). This National Trust property was once owned by Agatha Christie and opened to the public for the first time in 2009.

Living Coasts is a coastal zoo and conservation charity and well worth a visit if British weather is not letting you get in the water.

Kents Cavern is a prehistoric cave and a site that was used by Britain's earliest ancient humans thousands of years ago and today the cave is the only underground visitor centre in the UNESCO Global Geopark, a protected national monument and an internationally renowned prehistoric show cave.

The Sharpham Estate (Tel: 01803 732178), just down the river from Totnes which has a vineyard alongside an organic dairy farm and serves its wines and cheeses at its café – ah joy!

Local Diving Contacts
Babbacombe Beach Café
Although not a dive centre, this café offers car parking, meals, air fills, as well as useful local information.
Tel: 01803 324532

Divers Down
A PADI dive centre based in Babbacombe offering a full range of services: boat charters; escorted dives; equipment hire; equipment sales and repairs; air fills; dive courses; underwater scooter hire and even kayak hire.
Tel: 01803 327111
Regaldive
Sunfish Charters
Dive boat charter from Brixham with experienced skipper, Mike Weathersbee, who offers wreck and scenic dive trips from Brixham.
Tel: 07968 262421

Teign Diving Centre
A PADI 5 Star Instructor Centre with training; shop; dive charters on both a hardboat and 6.5m RIB.
Tel: 01803 327111

Falcon II
Falcon II is certified for twelve divers and skippered by Tony Hoile who has thirty years' experience of extensively diving this area with a deep knowledge of all the sites and is the only wildlife-safe (WISE) accredited skipper operating from Dartmouth.
Tel: 01803 839245 (mobile: 07970 759172)

Pressure Seekers
A friendly PADI dive club that welcomes any divers to come and join them diving. Courses are also available. Diving is chartered through Jennifer Ann with skipper Rick Parker.
Tel: 0845 257 2237

Thanks to Divers Down for supplying photography
Suunto

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