Thursday, 11 May 2017

Exploring Cockington Country Park, Torquay

Dave found us a beautiful walk yesterday and I am glad we went straight out in the sunshine rather than leaving it until today when the rain would have put us off and the mist obscured all our views. We began at Nut Bush Lane which is right on the edge of Torquay and so always reminds me of the Tina Turner song Nutbush City Limits. An influence on the town planners? There is space to park three or four cars and we got lucky.

Our path led away behind the red dog waste bin which seemed sadly redundant as I noticed a couple of instances of dog walkers preferring to bag their animal's crap and then hang the bags from trees. Seriously - what is the point of that? Especially less than fifty yards from a bin. Sometimes I despair of people!

Fortunately such ugliness wasn't typical of our afternoon and we were soon walking through pretty green woodland and emerging onto open downland from where we had gorgeous views across valleys and out to sea. The existence of Cockington Country Park protects the agricultural and natural environment from house building - for the time being at least - and we felt lucky to have this expansive green space so close to our home. We intended to follow the John Musgrave Trail into Cockington village, but it is only sporadically signposted so we don't know if we were exactly on course all the time. There is a bewildering choice of footpaths, cycle routes and bridlepaths converging on Cockington. Does anyone know if a definitive map is available? The John Musgrave Trail was created by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust in partnership with the Ramblers Association, from a legacy left by John Musgrove who was a keen walker. It opened in 2006 and extends some thirty-five miles around Torbay. We have a lot more of it still to discover!

Instead of continuing across Torbay, our furthest outward point was around Scadson Woods which I think, at the moment, must be the best destination for wild garlic. The woods had their fair share of bluebells too, but the white garlic flowers stole the show. Their scent was incredible as well.

I was pleased to see that all the paths we walked were well-trodden, cycled and ridden. The more people who use an area such as this, the more likely it is to preserved for the purpose. The paths closest to Cockington Craft Centre and the village would be the easiest for disabled access, but even further afield I think they would be acceptable for pushchairs and Tramper mobility scooters as long as the frequent short-but-steep gradients could be overcome.

I knew we were close to the estate's centre when we began to spot rhododendrons through the trees and then saw the restored Gamekeeper's Cottage. We had visited here last summer so made our way directly to the Cafe for a cup of tea and generous slice of Red Velvet cake. It was getting late in the afternoon so we didn't linger long before continuing our circuit back towards Nut Bush Lane. I did notice a couple of artworks outside the Cafe that are part of a Sculpture Trail. The works are there until the 10th of September and I intend to return to see the whole Trail. I am also tempted by the monthly Food And Craft Market which takes place on the last Sunday of each month and features locally farmed foods and unique handmade crafts. The next Market is on the 28th of May.

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