Walk - Riviera Line - Torquay Station - Cockington
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From Torquay Station head towards the Grand Hotel, crossing the road to the seafront. Facing the sea turn right and follow the South West Coast Path past Corbyn Head towards Paignton.
Corbyn’s (Saxon for crooked) Head had a natural arch until it fell in 1822, a second arch collapsed during a 1936 storm. Richard Mallock MP established and maintained his own small artillery unit here in the late nineteenth century. In the Second World War members of the Home Guard were killed while test-firing a piece of Japanese-made artillery.
- Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing traffic lights and turn right into Cockington Lane. Follow the lane under the railway bridge until you reach the double mini roundabouts.
- Turn right and then immediately before what looks like an old bus shelter, turn left onto the waymarked route, the Torbay-Totnes Trail. Look out for the blue signs that direct you along the valley. Eventually the path crosses over a stream and a low stile and out onto Cockington Lane near Lanscombe House. The lane then leads into Cockington Village.
Cockington Court was the home of the Cary family from the 14th century until the 17th century before belonging to the Mallock family. The current house dates largely from the 16th and 17th centuries. Originally, the centre of Cockington village had been sited next to the church and Cockington Court. However, in the early years of the 1800s the Lord of the Manor, Roger Mallock, decided he wanted a view from the Court uncluttered by buildings. He therefore had the barns and the cottages knocked down and a new village rebuilt out of sight, but in "picturesque" style. Cockington Court is run by Torbay Development Agency. The estate grounds are managed by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust. There is a craft centre and restaurant here. Most of the buildings in today's Cockington therefore date back to 1800-1810, although several of the farm buildings, including the 500 year old Cockington Forge, pre-date the building of the new village.
Having enjoyed the village of Cockington, continue walking up Cockington Lane, passing between the Drum Inn and School House.
The Drum Inn was the last building to be constructed within the village. In 1936 the world famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the pub to be the focal point of the village.
- Fifty yards further up the road the junction with an ancient sunken lane marks the site of an earlier village inn. Take the path, Bewhay Lane, on your left.Cut deep into the red Devon rock, the path takes you up away from the village and Torbay and onto an open rural landscape of fields and ancient hedgerows. The lane gives way to a footpath before dropping down to pass through the farmyard of Stantor Farm.
- At Stantor Farm join the farm track which takes a left turn out of the farmyard to join a short section of the old Totnes Road. This was once the old highway from Cockington to Totnes. It is now a relatively peaceful sunken lane well clothed in fern and seasonal wild flowers. At the road turn left. Three hundred yards on, take a footpath which leads off to the right into Scadson Woods and soon begins to follow the line of the Hollicombe stream.
Scadson is an ancient word originating from a Saxon derivation meaning ‘in the shadow of’. The woodland is indeed mystic and beautiful providing a carpet of springtime bluebells and wild garlic and was once an important source of raw materials for numerous rural tasks.
- At the first footpath junction, take the left fork and climb gently up through the woods and out once more onto open pastures.
The field to your right was once part of a rabbit warren where rabbits were raised for both their meat and fur.
- On reaching a crossroads of footpaths, continue straight ahead, dropping down to the recently renovated Warren Barn.
You will notice an area of newly planted deciduous woodland to your right.
Manscombe Woods was probably planted in the 1800s for the purpose of rearing and shooting pheasant. The wall which runs around it dates back much earlier - to the 1600s, if not before. Much of the woodland was blown down by the storms of 1990, and it has had to be cleared and replanted.
- The route now turns to follow the edge of Manscombe Woods down the valley to the Gamekeeper’s Cottage, situated on the boundary of Cockington’s more managed garden area.
Gamekeeper's Cottage nestles in the shadow of Manscombe Woods. The earliest record of the cottage is 1517, and the last gamekeeper to live here was in the early 1900s. The cottage was severely damaged by arsonists in 1990, and only the shell was left standing. It has since been restored and is now used as an environmental education centre. The intriguing timber slatted area, at the end of the building just beneath the roof was used to hang pheasants after a shoot in preparation for the cook to use up at Cockington Court house.
From here it is a sedate walk along surfaced paths either to Cockington Court via Lower Lodge or back to the village centre.
From the village retrace your steps along Cockington Lane to the path leading through the water meadows. Emerge onto the road at the double mini roundabout. Turn left to head up Old Mill Road before quickly turning right into Hennapyn Road.
- Follow Hennapyn back to Torquay Station, crossing over the railway bridge and turning left, by the Grand Hotel, into Torquay Station.
Alternatively catch a bus back to the station or take a Horse and Carriage ride from the village to Torquay seafront near the Livermead House Hotel. From there it is a short walk along the South West Coast Path back towards Torquay Station.