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24 September 2014

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Take a walk at thatched Cockington
Cockington Forge
Cockington Forge at the heart of the village
The thatched village of Cockington is the perfect setting for a walk - no matter what time of year it is. It has a historic forge, picture-postcard cottages, horse and carriage rides, a court and church, tea rooms, thatched pub and, of course the lakes and woods.
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Cockington Village dates back to Domesday.

For most of the 20th century, the village was owned by the insurance firm, Prudential.

It was handed to the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust in the late 1990s.

The trust was set up by Torbay Council to manage the resort's coast and parks.

The woods and paths have undergone a big clear-up in the past few years.

The forge, in the centre of the village, is one of the most photographed rural buildings in the country.

Another popular image of Cockington is the sight of horse and carriages.

The village's Drum Inn was designed by Lutyens.

To make sure the public toilets in the village car park fitted in with the surroundings, they were given a thatched roof.

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The medieval village of Cockington was noted in the Domesday Book, and, on the face of it at least, little appears to have changed since.

The village sits somewhat incongruously, right in the heart of urban Torbay, but it stubbornly refuses to to be tainted by modern developments.

The thatched village (even the public toilets here are thatched!) is one of the most photographed places in the country, and the surrounding country park and woodland makes it an ideal destination for walking.

Cockington Lakes
The lakes, with surrounding wood

Visitors to the village can park in the public car parks - there is a charge - and set off on one of several routes which are available.

On this particular walk, the route went up the hill past the historic Cockington Forge at the centre of the village, and Weaver's Cottage tea shoppe on the right. There is then a right turning, through a gate, into the grounds at Cockington Court.

The path follows around to the left - to the lakes, and to the woods. You can do both easily. The lakes make a picturesque and peaceful starting point, before turning back, and heading to the woodland walk - which is well signposted.

There are also information boards placed at points of interest, such as the Gamekeeper's Cottage, at the entrance to the woodland walk.

The 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 used as an environmental education centre. The intriguing slatted area, just beneath the roof (in the top left of the photograph), was used to hang pheasants after a shoot!

In fact, 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.

Gamekeeper's Cottage
The Gamekeeper's Cottage - note the wooden slats in the top left, used to hang pheasants after a shoot

The path through the wood is a gentle incline, but you can go exploring deeper into the woods if you like.

The path takes you past fields, where, during the winter, the famous Cockington horses can be found resting. There are also fantastic views down the valley to Torquay, with Manscombe Woods to the right.

To reach Cockington Court, you cross a narrow road, via a gate, and walk along a muddier path. There is also a separate route for horse-riders. The pathway brings you to behind the Court and Cockington Church, where you have a choice - to stop for a cuppa and bite to eat, or head off on another of the paths.

Cockington Court was the manor house for the squires of Cockington from Saxon times right up to 1932. It is now managed - as is the rest of Cockington Country Park - by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust. The court houses tea rooms, and a craft centre. Horse and carriage rides also start from here.

The walk back to the car park takes you down the long sweeping driveway, which passes around the idyllic cricket ground, with its pavillion high up on the overlooking hill. And, opposite the main car park in the village is the Drum Inn, designed by Lutyens.

This walk took two hours, but you ideally need a whole day to make the most of it. It really is like taking a step back in time - the roads, cars, and hectic 21st century lifestyle all seem a million miles away.

For more details about Cockington, ring the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust on 01803 606035. Or click onto the trust's website, using the link on this page.

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