Summer’s here and there’s no better place to get a bird’s eye view of Torquay and the surrounding area than hitching a ride on the big wheel in Torquay. More formally known as the English Riviera Wheel, it’s one of the main Torquay attractions. Standing at over 60 metres high, it has a weight of 365 tonnes without passengers. It’s taller than Nelsons Column but is surprisingly quiet as it slowly moves around ensuring you take in some great views.
Where can I find the Big Wheel in Torquay?
The big wheel can’t be missed as you walk towards Torquay harbour, as it stands tall in Princess Gardens, Torquay. It’s only a short walk from the TLH Leisure Resort hotels and stands proud over the inner harbour. As a well known icon for Torquay it attracts people of ages to the glass gondoliers and the promise of great views.
When is Torquay’s big wheel open and how much does it cost for a ride?
This year the big wheel is open from 10am until 8pm with extended opening hours on public holidays and schools holidays. You will be able to grab your bird’s eye view of the bay until Sunday 26th October as the big wheel doesn’t run during the winter. This leads me to an interesting fact, as it takes 11 trailers to transport the 365 tonnes of metal that makes up the big wheel.
Cost of the ride (at time of writing) is £6 for an adult, students and senior citizens £5 and children under 14 are £4. You also get the option of buying a photograph of you standing in front of the wheel, but this is optional.
That’s not all as you can also buy special Gondola tickets as follows.
VIP Gondola: £40.00 (For up to 4 people)
VIP Gondola with Champagne: £70.00
Private Gondola: £30.00 (max 6 persons – prevents sharing at peak times)
No matter what option you go for, you are going to get some great views of the Torquay and the wider bay.
How long is the ride?
The Riviera wheel runs for about 12 minutes each trip, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the ride, listen to the running commentary and take in the stunning views of Torbay.
Take a look at the big wheel structure
Once you have purchased your ticket you stand at the base of the wheel alongside a specific entrance gate. Waiting for the wheel to stop will give you a chance to look up at the amazing structure of the big wheel. It amazes me that the giant stack of metal that stands with ease above you, has had every bolt and curve of the metal frame painstakingly designed to fit together. We take such thing for granted but the man hours and time that has gone into the development and construction of such a mammoth item is something to wonder at.
While you are waiting for your place on the big wheel, you will be asked to pose for a photograph which you can purchase when the ride is over. This seems to be a standard practice on big rides these days and the kids seem to love them, but there is no obligation to buy.
Stunning views with the big wheel at Torquay
On a good summers day you will take in breathtaking 360 degree views across Torbay and can clearly see over to Berry Head in Brixham. You will also see Princess Pier and Torre Abby Sands as you would never normally see them, a real birds eye view of the bay.
See some of the great views of Torquay
A completely safe ride
At the peak of the ride the harbour spreads out below you but beware, as if you have not got a head for heights it can seem a long way down. A head for heights or not, the ride is completely safe with the doors locking automatically at the start of the ride. If it does all get too much or something happens, there is an emergency button in each gondola.
Running commentary about Torquay
An interesting point worth mentioning is the running commentary that starts with the ride. It highlights some great facts and information about Torquay that is surprisingly interesting and worth listening to. This commentary is certainly aimed at the adults and any children you take on with you will be more interested in the great views and actually being on the wheel.
If it’s a sunny day and you want to get a bird’s eye view of Torquay and the wider Torbay area, the English Riviera Wheel is something worth putting on your list of things to do. The kids will love it and you will get some great holiday pictures.
If you fancy keeping your feet on the ground then head over to Aztec Games with the kids and spend the afternoon with a little indoor archery or 10 pin bowling. Aztec Games is packed with some great indoor fun.
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