Judith and Richard Skinner in Cockington
The colours of Cockington
By Jo Bishop
As part of BBC Radio Devon's 25th anniversary celebrations, listeners Judith and Robert Skinner take us on their favourite walk around historic Cockington Court, in Torbay.
I last visited the picture-postcard thatched village of Cockington several years ago, but being Torquay born and bred it is somewhere that I was familiar with as a child.
On one particular early visit, I was perhaps a little too familiar. A sponsored walk I undertook - for Help the Aged, as I recall - involved 10 circuits or so of the park and woodland.
So I knew, as Judith had said when suggesting the walk, that "spring is the perfect time to see it."
There is a choice of car parks around the village. We met up in the main one opposite the Drum pub.
One of Cockington's lovely thatched cottages
The April afternoon was bright and sunny, perfect conditions to stroll around the attractive mature gardens, enjoy the spring colours and sit on one of the many benches to watch the world go by.
There are several ways to access the grounds of Cockington Court. Our route took us past the Drum uphill into some welcome shade, and gave the opportunity for an interesting detour into the glass blowing workshop and forge.
They're among a number of local craft businesses based at the court and you can watch the skilled craftsmen and women at work.
From the forge you can walk straight into the walled rose garden, but with my Labrador dog Bella and Judith's Jack Russell Georgie in tow, we skirted around the outside to comply with the garden's "no dog" rule.
Generally dogs are welcome in the grounds and can be let off the lead, providing they're kept under control.
We passed the 13th century Cockington Church on our right. Judith said: "At Christmas it's absolutely super because they have the carols by candlelight, it's a lovely service to go to.
"Also on Mothering Sunday we have our service here and normally you can see daffodils and flowers all around which is lovely."
As we headed into the parkland in front of the impressive court, a carpet of colour opened up - blossom on the trees, camellias, azaleas and ceanothus out, along with rhododendron bushes, magnolia trees, and in the woods bluebells and other spring flowers.
"You haven't got to be in a hurry - you can just amble along and take it as it comes," said Judith.
Robert and Judith have certainly made the most of their visits to Cockington Court over the years. Robert has played cricket in the summer – and they've also visited with their niece and nephew.
"They used to love to run along and hide in what they used to call their den," said Judith. "They were only about four and six when they were doing this. They thought it was lovely to hide and then jump out on us."
On cue a little boy playing with his dad did just that. Then shortly afterwards the horse and trap passed by – an alternative method of transport for those who don't want to walk.
Cockington lakes in spring time
The stroll through the gardens continues to a series of three lakes, surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.
There are also a number of woodland paths if you want to extend the walk, otherwise it's simply a case of heading back through the gardens to drink in the views looking to the opposite direction.
"I think it's a beautiful place to come," said Judith. "It's absolutely super.
"There's something for everybody - that's why we like it so much."
"It's Torquay's secret treasure," said Robert.
As a local girl, I find it hard to disagree.
last updated: 30/04/2008 at 11:06
Judith and Robert's Cockington walk
Start/finish grid reference: SX 894 639
How to get to the start: Cockington is close to Torquay seafront off the A3022/A379. There are good bus links.
Distance: 1.5 miles, or the walk can be extended into the woodland paths.
Duration: 1 hour+ to allow for the views, watching the world go by.
Terrain: Tarmac path and lane. Good wheelchair/pushchair access.
Additional information: There are toilets, a public house, café, craft areas and shops in the village.
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