Do the Rock Walk baby!

The new Rock Walk, Torquay

Rena (my partner) likes Torquay; I’m not keen and she knows it, but we make an occasional visit. I must admit I had been meaning to cast my mincers over the new rock walk to see if the council had done a good job of restoration. It may seem odd but this was always one of the better, and taken for granted, attractions of Torquay that the council could have decided to just leave in its battered and denuded state. Deciding to restore it was a brave and worthwhile decision.

The old rock walk was blown away by gales some years ago, which was a disaster as it was one of the few reasons to visit Torquay. The planting was very good and included a collection of palm trees from around the world, including tropical countries, that would be difficult to find out in the open anywhere else in Britain. Only a handful of the many hundreds of trees and shrubs remain, and the old timber walkways and bridges have all been replaced with stronger, and in my view less attractive, structures. Despite everything though Torbay Borough Council haven’t done a bad job and the use of gravel, specimen plants and shrubs and drifts of flowers is quite good. It may even look as good as the old rock walk by 2050, but I’m not likely to be around to see it. Well worth a visit to Torquay – get the train from Newton Abbot and walk along the front – avoid the town centre!

Tom Cobbly

Tom CobblyTom Cobbly @ Spreyton, Devon

A long way to go for a pint (or eight actually…) but well worth it! From Newton Abbot to Spreyton via Moretonhamstead in two minivans, the cream of the Union drinkers swapped bar stools for the day. The pub is in the middle of nowhere in a hamlet with a population of about 90, and yet its been regional and even national Pub of the Year. How does it do it? Well, most of the clientele looked like retired commodity brokers and even arranged themselves around tables as if they were at a Board meeting, with the Chairman clearly at the head of the table. There is great wealth in this little village and therefore probably not many Devonians.

The pub is reputed to be the place where Old Uncle Tom Cobbly and his merrie men set off for Widecombe – quite a distance but, as someone pointed out, not too bad if you go in a straight line over Dartmoor. If they had a few ciders before setting off I doubt the line was very straight. The pub is great because it has everything: it’s very old, it’s interior is unpretentious, it has some fifteen or so beers and ten different ciders, it has a real beer garden with Devon countryside as far as the eye can see, the food is (apparently) good and to top it all they have a teetotal landlord and the Basil Fawlty of barmen. Well worth a visit, even from as far afield as Newton Abbot.