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Nowadays it has a peacetime role of providing a roost for a colony of horseshoe bats. In 2001, the St Mary- church & District Action Group raised funds for a conservation project to protect the bats already living in the pill box, and with help from the Devon Bat Group and the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust, a group of volunteers refurbished the building and provided additional roosting spaces.


Horseshoe bats are an endangered species in Britain, and the greater horseshoe bat is only found in South West England and South Wales. The decline in their numbers is due to the loss of woodland and other roosting sites, as well as the use of pesticides to kill the insects on which they feed. Widespread use of chemicals toxic to bat populations used to treat timber provides another threat, although the use of these is diminishing.


Horseshoe bats are named after the distinctive flap of skin over their noses, part of the complex system they use for navigation and hunting, known as ‘echolocation’. This system works like sonar: the bats send out a signal, measuring the time the sound takes to return, and its volume, to identify what is ahead and how far away it is. The bat uses the difference in the time delay and volume of the sound in each ear, relative to the other, to


triangulate the position of the object which has reflected the signal.


Carry on along the Coast Path towards Torquay. The cliffs below Daddyhole Plain and the steep ground southwards towards Torquay Harbour, known as Rock End Walk, are managed by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, an independent local charity dedicated to looking after some of Torbay’s most significant heritage and wildlife sites (see the Maidencombe Walk). In Victorian times the area was laid out as gardens and a pleasure walk, but since then it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest


and a County Wildlife Site and has been allowed to return to a more natural state. At Peaked Tor Cove itself, however, the Trust has worked with the local community to create a more formal garden.


Daddyhole is particularly noted for the geological features in its limestone cliffs, especially the fossils it contains such as corals, and alternating bands of shales and limestones. These have given geol- ogists an understanding of the kind of life forms that once lived in the shallow seas where these rocks were laid down. There are also a number of rare plants flourishing in the calcium-rich soil above, including the nationally rare white rock rose and ivy broomrape, an upright reddish purple plant with scaly leaves and cream-coloured flowers.


3. When you reach Parkhill Road, turn left towards the harbour. Until 1903 Beacon Cove, below, was reserved as a ‘ladies only’ bathing beach, complete with bathing ma- chines. This was a favourite swim- ming venue of local novelist Agatha Christie when she was a child.


4. At the harbour, cross the Millennium Bridge, turn right and walk around the harbour, turning right again onto the Strand.


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