Right in the middle of the village is the Forge,it dates back to the 14th century,its said to be the most photographed building in the country.Its no longer a working forge,but used for the famous miniture horseshoe,you can buy lots of different brasses here.Horse shoes are very lucky alot of people hang them on their doors.
Cockington Court is surrounded by beautiful gardens,you can visit the court its open for the public 7 days a week.Inside the court there are studios showing you how they make pottery,glass and needlework.
These days you can visit outstanding museums in this country with their exceptional collections for nothing :-Free, buckshee, zilch. So why would anyone want to pay a fiver to visit a small provincial museum like Torquay?
The problem is, of course, that small local museums don't get any real consistent financial support, and this doesn't just apply to Torquay but to smaller museums up and down the country. Consequently a small band of people with the help of volunteers put an awful lot of effort in to keeping locally important collections in the local community. So if you feel like I do that it's important for this to continue then the admission fee asked for doesn't seem so bad.
So what do you get for your money? Firstly, don't let the Victorian exterior put you off because inside it's not as fusty as you might imagine. Thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund the museum has had a makeover to bring it into the modern age. It is in fact the oldest museum still operating in Devon (founded in 1844) and over the years has ammassed an estimated 300,000 specimens. Only about 1% is on display and it's easy to see why. It's not a large building and there are a number of things that are important to the history of Torquay. They include the special geology of the area (it's the world's first Urban Geopark), the life and literature of Agatha Christie, explorers of the past who either came from or lived in Torquay, and of course the everyday things that made Torquay what it is.
For the casual visitor I would highly recommend the items on display that have been found in Kent's Cavern - and whatever you do don't miss KC4. It's only tiny and you could easily miss it - but don't because KC4 is Britain's oldest human fossil, recently dated at between 41,500 and 44,200 years old and consequently the earliest modern human fossil ever found in N.W. Europe. It was found in Kent's Cavern in 1927.
The best thing to do of course is to check out the museum's website for all the up to date details. It has lifts to help people with mobility problems, a cafe and shop as well as a Classic Cinema every other Friday afternoon. Photography isn't permitted in the Agatha Christie section due to copyright issues but is allowed everywhere else. It's open practically every day of the year (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day) so there's no excuse not to come and check it out -and it has to be worth it for the price of a large glass of wine - or a small one if you qualify for a concession.
View of the centre of Cockington Village.
The low roofed building is the Forge and this is one of the most photographed buildings in the country. It dates from the 14th century. Some of the older pictures of Cockington Forge show my great grandfather who was one of the many Ironsmiths over the centuries. Unfortunately, no longer a working forge, it is now home to the famous miniature horseshoe.
Walk up past the Forge and bare right and you will enter a beauiful meadow leading towards Cockington Court and Church.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 shows that at the time of the Conquest, Cockington was a thriving Saxon manor.
Today Cockington Court offers a cafe and local craft centre. Behind the manor house is a rose garden. Next to the manor house is a small church with a Norman tower.
In the summer there are a variety of events which take place, including Cricket matches on the meadow, a "last night of the proms" night and during August Cockington Fayre.
This is a sand and shingle beach and again will get mostly covered when the tide comes in.
This is more of a family beach and there are beach huts along the beach wall - these huts can be hired along with deck chairs and sunbeds.
Facilities: Parking 1/4 mile from beach; dogs banned; swimming, safe with care; warning flags in operation; life saving equipment; toilets nearby; deck chair/sun bed hire; chalet hire
Disabled: easy access; toilets nearby
The Marina area starts at Torquay Pier (next to the Princess Theatre) and runs along the coast next to the Pavillion, along the Strand and upto the Living Coast aviary and sea life attraction.
Mooring your craft here will cost you quite a lot of money, however if you can afford it you will be in the company of other rich people!
The newly built foot bridge (completed 2003) joins the two sides of the inner harbour together making it much easier to navigate the Strand area of Torquay.
The center span opens to allow tall boats into the inner harbour.
History comes alive at Torbay's most historic building. Built in 1196 you can trace the 800 years of development from monastery, imposing home of wealthy families, to Mayor's official residence of modern day.
It is advised to set aside at least up to 3 hours (sounds alot to me!).
Historic rooms, including the beautiful dining room and family chapel.
Art galleries containing a stunning collection of pictures, silver, glass and Torquay pottery.
The most complete medieval Abbey ruins in Devon and Cornwall, including the "Spanish Barn" of Armada fame.
The Agatha Christie memorial room.
Colourful gardens and palm house.
Even if you’ve only come to Torquay to enjoy the coastline and entertainment you should definitely try to include a visit to Kents Cavern as well if you can.
These show caves were opened up to the public for the first time back in 1880 and attract around 80,000 visitors a year. Exploration of the caves took place much earlier than that and records go back as far as 1571.
These dates become insignificant when we start to go backwards in time though. The cave’s most important find was a human jaw-bone that has recently been dated to between 41,500 and 44,200 years old which makes it the earliest modern human (Homo Sapiens) fossil found in N.W. Europe. It can be seen in Torquay Museum where many other finds from Kents Cavern are kept. (See my tip on Torquay Museum).
If you think that’s old then think again because Stone Axes have been found in the caves that can be traced back 500,000 years. These earliest Europeans (Homo Erectus) would no doubt have used these tools to butcher the local wildlife which would have included Hyenas, Lions and Mammoths.
Just to prove the point there’s a Bear’s skull on display before you enter the caves that has been put at around 420,000 years old.
So, if archaeologists have dug up these remains from all this time ago how old are the caves themselves? Well it would seem that they were formed about 2 ½ million years ago when rainwater gradually permeated through the limestone rocks.
So what about the age of the rocks themselves then?
They’ve been dated to around 385 million years old, which is still young compared to Scotland’s Pre-Cambrian rocks that are something like 3,300m years old - and if you’re really interested you might like to know that our planet was formed some 4,600m years ago.
The caves are interesting from both an archaeological and geological point of view, but for obvious reasons can only be seen on a guided tour, which is both fun and informative and lasts about an hour.
Kents Cavern has been in the hands of the Powe family for over a hundred years but it’s bang up to date with facilities that you would expect of such an attraction and is open throughout the year.
The caves are an important part of local, national, and international pre-history and you’ll leave Torquay all the poorer (figuratively speaking) if you don’t come here before you leave.
Most first time visitors to Torquay will probably want to head straight for the harbour because it’s Torquay’s focal point.
There are actually 2 harbours - the Outer and Inner.
The Outer Harbour is protected by 2 piers - the Princess and the Haldon but it’s the Inner Harbour that will be the main attraction for the casual visitor.
The Inner Harbour is enclosed by a cill between the South Pier and the Old Fish Quay. The Millennium Footbridge crosses over between the two and so it’s therefore possible to walk all the way around the Inner Harbour without having to turn back. The cill allows water to remain inside the Inner Harbour even when the tide goes out but it only caters for the smallest of pleasure craft.
Surrounding the harbour is a range of shops, bars and restaurants and the North Quay side (Vaughan Parade) is pedestrianised. This is also where the Tourist Information Office is situated.
Also around here are the kiosks advertising various boat trips on offer along the South Devon coastline. I will be writing a separate tip about these.
On the other side of the harbour at the end of Victoria Parade is ‘Living Coasts’ . This is an attraction run by Paignton Zoo and consists of seabirds and other coastal creatures.
Nearby, two D-Day embarkation ramps have been preserved in honour of the 4th U.S. Infantry Division who left here for Utah Beach in Normandy back on June 6th 1944.
It has to be said that the harbour area can get quite lively on weekend nights but the excessive number of stag and hen parties of a few years ago seem to have abated in recent years.
As we were walking around the ground we came to the woods and here we found the Game keepers cottage,it was quite spooky really.It dates back to the 16th century.Its now used alot for schools.
Kant's Cavern is the oldest known dwelling in Britain. It holds beautiful geological formations and significant prehistoric finds. The caves are over 2 million years old, and it feels like walking through historic amidst the stalagmites and stalactites.
We did a tour around the caves and we listened to what was supposed to be the spooky tales of strange happenings in the caves. I remember that the "actors" were kind of amateurs, so we didn't get the spooky feeling when we were there. It was however an interesting cave to see with the "drips" of salt from the ceiling, the prehistoric remains and what seemed like faces in the rock.
Hollicombe is situated between Livermead in Torquay and Preston in Paignton which means that it sits on the border of the two towns. As the majority of the beach is on the Torquay side I have decided to include it into Torquay.
It’s a good beach for soaking up the sun as it’s a veritable sun trap. It’s also safe for swimming and a good place for rock-pooling at low tide.
There are no facilities at all here which means it’s a quiet and secluded beach. It never gets crowded as many visitors don’t even realise it’s here.
Access to the beach is through Hollicombe Gardens, next to the main road. These gardens used to be part of the gas works and when they were closed down this area was turned into a lovely park. Unfortunately, a few years ago S.W. Water used this site as a part of their clean-sweep operation and it was never put back together in the same way as they found it. Consequently the area became neglected which was a crying shame because these gardens had water features and lovely flower beds as well as a nice grassy area to lie about on. It’s still a nice place to lie around and the flower beds are gradually being turned over to wildflowers, so it’s not all gloom and doom. In fact I quite like the wild look but I’m sure the council see it as an economic way of tidying the place up a bit.
Walking through the gardens leads you to a tunnel under the railway and onto the beach.
There are a limited number of parking spaces on the main road or you can catch the No.12 bus and get off at Hollicombe Gardens.
An alternative way of getting here is to walk to the end of Preston Beach and follow the path/cycle path over the top of Hollicombe Head and down to the beach.
Torquay harbour is very pleasant during the evening. The walk along from Tor Abbey Sands to the Princess Pier and then towards the inner harbour is only a short walk (for most) and it is flat all the way. At the harbour there is a range of shops, cafes, bars and places to eat. It's a lively place during the summer evenings. It's also a hive of activity for the foreign language students who flock to Torquay in the summer to learn English.
Heading out of Torquay along the prom past Corbyn’s Head towards Paignton will bring you to Livermead Sands.
Torbay tries to keep everyone happy and at Livermead there’s a designated water skiing area. It’s a beach where you can also take your dog, even in the summer months.
On the flip side there aren’t any facilities and parking is pretty well non-existent. However the No.12 bus stops here and is probably your best bet if you don’t want to walk.
There are also steps down to the beach which makes access for the disabled difficult.
The beach itself consists of sand, shingle and rocks which makes it a good place for rock pooling at low tide.
To the right of Livermead Sands is Institute Beach, a small quiet cove, which suffers from frequent rock falls, so heed the notices if you intend sunbathing under the red sandstone cliffs.
At the far end of Institute Beach Livermead Head beckons and it’s definitely worth taking a stroll around there at low tide - but be warned - don’t attempt it on an incoming tide because you won’t be the first to get cut off if you get it wrong.