Cockington Village: crafts, cream teas and charm by the sea in Devon
Hello! How are we all? Perhaps many of you are starting to dream of those lazy summer days away from work, enjoying some R&R with your nearest and dearest, or perhaps just on your own!
This week I want to share with you one of my favourite places: Cockington Village in Torquay, Devon. Its chocolate box cottages set in picturesque wooded countryside a short stroll from the seafront and the hustle and bustle of Torquay make it a hidden gem.
I first visited Cockington 10 years ago, shortly after I nervously stepped off the train onto Newton Abbot platform, waiting to meet my boyfriend's family for the first time (now my husband, and my family). My mother-in-law was keen to show me all that Torquay had to offer, in particular the walks. And after a hilarious hike up Haytor on the moors (every photograph she took of me looked like I was in pain - I'm just not that good with heights!) and a visit to the House of Marbles, we settled on a walk around Cockington Village and my heart was stolen.
There are lots of different ways to walk into Cockington - you can follow the public right of way from the coast, for example, and there are some small car parks in the heart of the village, but I would recommend exploring on foot if you can. However, if you feel the need to take the weight off your feet, there are horse and carriage rides available that go through the village and around the grounds of Cockington Court. Alan and I wandered in ourselves last Thursday, and found ourselves walking behind this couple...
... it made my heart sing to see them walking hand-in-hand, the way you can imagine they've done for decades, through this beautiful village. I hope Alan and I will be walking that way in years to come too.
Cockington's picture-perfect village will capture your hearts from the moment you set foot into it; thatched cottages, named for their previous purpose, are now home to various small businesses, each oozing with charm. Rose Cottage is a licensed tea-room and gardens, with a distinctive 20s feel created by the jazz piano music provided by a resident pianist, who plays from the pagoda in the centre of the gardens. The Weaver's Cottage is now a tea shop, providing scrumptious cream teas - and they don't skimp on the cream either! Just be sure to do it properly: the Devonian way.... cream first and then the jam. If you want to put your jam first, pop across the border to Cornwall hehe!
The Old Forge sells horse brasses and other charming collectables but mind your head when you go in because the thatched porch is quite low! All of the properties are thatched and ooze chocolate box country charm. Don't miss out on the opportunity to sample and then purchase some gorgeous homemade fudge in the gift-shop either - a myriad of flavours that will find you struggling to make up your mind! I had salted caramel last year and it was absolutely scrummy. I think Alan went for lemon meringue.
There's plenty to do here - once you've explored the shops and buildings in the village itself, perhaps you'd like to play some family ball games, or cricket, on the green in front of Cockington Court. Feed the ducks on one of the many lakes, but please remember not to give ducks bread. It's a little known fact, that should be more widely known, that feeding ducks bread is really bad for their tummies. This infographic from the Wildlife Centre of Virginia shows just some of the reasons why it's not a good idea. For more information, please see this article from Mother Nature Network.
Waymarkers show lots of different walking routes through the surrounding woodlands and fields. Those more adventurous biking enthusiasts will find mountain bike trails marked too, and of course there are bridleways if you feel like exploring on horseback. It's a haven for dog walkers or anyone wanting a ramble through picturesque surroundings. It's been well maintained with some wooden walkways created to avoid the many natural streams that flow - they're crystal clear and very tempting on a hot day but I'd recommend taking water with you!
Cockington is incredibly dog-friendly. Bowls of water are readily available (although obviously it's adviseable to supply your own to prevent infection and also to avoid walking your dogs in the middle of the day) and Cockington Court's tearoom and ice-cream parlour even serves doggy-ice cream so your precious pooch can share in the summertime family fun. Alan and I have eaten at the court before and they know how to do a good jacket potato - you can take my word for it!
The court and church themselves also often host weddings. If you want to get married there though, be prepared for a long wait. My husband and I looked into it and there was a 3 year waiting list for a church wedding! Of course, you could have a civil ceremony in the court instead. The grounds are perfect for photographs and the Drum Inn has wedding packages too.
We actually started our day at the Drum Inn this time; we had arranged to meet Grandma there with her two gorgeous dogs, Keely the keeshond and Poppy the Papillon. I hadn't actually realised the alliterative quality of their names until I just typed it ... I wonder if Grandma knows she's done that?
I snuck a few photos of Poppy....isn't she just adorable? She might be a lap dog - she was straight onto our laps when she arrived - but she can keep up on a good walk. Ideal!
The peace didn't last for long, as it was broken by the excited barking of Keely who was beside herself at seeing my husband. She settled quickly and we enjoyed lots of fuss as well as our drinks, and met the cute little Papillon, Poppy. Drinks finished and initial catch up complete, we set off through the grounds and along some of the raised wooden walkways to come out at the green of Cockington Court, with the court ahead of us, the church up to the left, and the cricket pavillion to the right. It was then that we were tempted by the scrummy ice creams offered by the tea room in Cockington Court. We did consider getting doggy ones for our four-legged companions but Keely made it quite clear that she expected to share Grandmas. Little Poppy quickly got the taste for it too and didn't seem impressed that she had to take turns with Keely!
That done, we headed up behind the court towards the craft centre. This is in two parts and for me is the highlight of my visits to Cockington. The first part is in what I suppose would have been the stable yard of the court originally, housing a number of artisan master craftsmen and women who have been resident for some time, although there are newcomers. The second part is behind the first, and is comprised of purpose built studios with retail space for each maker. Kathy Hilton has a studio here (find her on Not on the Highstreet, and check out my NurseryKnitsUK blog for more on her) and there are ceramicists, jewellery makers and of course a master chocolatier.
Personally, I've always found the original craft centre to be the most interesting. It's home to Our Glass, a glass-blowers, where you can watch them work through the process of creating their glass bowls, vases and baubles, and purchase your very own mementoes; to Rex Blacksmiths, which has both a viewing gallery of the forge itself and a large shop selling everything from door-stops to wine holders, to decorative sheep, to full size suits of armour; and to Driftmoods - where Craig Daniels uses reclaimed slate to create beautiful pieces for the home that are both breathtaking and practical. Craig was kind enough to grant me an informal and impromptu interview so do look out for that next week!
Having finished our walk and said our goodbyes to Grandma and the dogs, Alan and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the Drum Inn. The service as I've already said was excellent - they didn't mind where we wanted to sit, whereas quite often when there aren't many customers pubs like you to sit in one area for their own ease - and the menu was really tasty. It's part of the Vintage Inns family but their food is cooked freshly on site and is utterly delicious! I was absolutely enthralled by the furniture in one part - it felt like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland!
If you want to take in the seaside, just follow the sign to the coastal path (it's well sign-posted) and you soon find yourself on the seafront and all that Torquay has to offer. Catch a bus towards Paignton and you have the famous zoo - well worth a full day out. Go into Torquay itself and there's the theatre, lots of shops, ice-cream parlours (I thoroughly recommend the first one you come to as it serves the most divine elderflower sorbet in those yummy waffle cones), and the harbour which is beautiful by day or by night. There's also Living Coasts, and a bowling alley if that takes your fancy.
We walked up the road from the seafront to Drakes Fish and Chip Shop - friendly service and scrummy chips - and took our fish and chips back to the green at Babbacombe to enjoy looking over the bay...
There are obviously plenty of places to stay in Torquay, both along the seafront and a short walk from town, but if you ask me, I'd love to try the self-catering cottages in Cockington Village. I am lucky in that I can stay with my in-laws, but I reckon there'd be something pretty special about staying in this unique location.
What have your favourite British holidays been? Have you any to recommend to us? Do let me know this and your thoughts on this post in the comments section below.
The winner of our giveaway is entry #5. Congratulations to Jade Philbin. You've won £5 to spend in the etsy store on an item of your choice! Contact me for your code xxx