Winter walkabout: Gentle woodland walk for all ages and abilities

This walk follows part of the 35-mile John Musgrave Heritage Trail. Photo: Keith Perry

This walk follows part of the 35-mile John Musgrave Heritage Trail. - Credit: Keith Perry

The walk through Scadson and Manscombe woods to Cockington is the most picturesque woodland walk within the Torbay boundary and a relatively gentle one for walkers of all ages and abilities.
My starting point is through the Old Paignton Road gateway at Hollicombe where you will pick up a well-maintained pathway running parallel with Hollicombe Lake, the name given to the stream that flows into the sea at Hollicombe or Gas Works Beach and which marks the boundary between Cockington and Paignton.
The path to Cockington is eventually signposted on your right and taking this option avoids cross-crossing the Freeride Park, the Bay’s first dedicated mountain bike park.

The Freeride Park is the Bay’s first dedicated mountain bike park. Photo: Keith Perry

The Freeride Park is the Bay’s first dedicated mountain bike park - Credit: Keith Perry

Leaving Scadson Wood, the walk crosses open fields and leads into Manscombe Wood with a downhill descent to the historic Warren Barn, restored in 2007 and designated a protected building by virtue of the fact that it is a fine example of an ‘out farm’ - a barn built near the boundary of the farm to save the labour of transporting hay and wheat all the way back to the main farmstead in the village.
The Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust information board here adds that the barn was once used for threshing, storing hay and providing winter quarters for cattle. The yard would have been a manure-making factory In readiness for spreading on the fields in spring.
Today, the barn is used by the trust as a residential field centre for school and community groups.

The Gamekeeper’s Cottage at Cockington lakes. Photo: Keith Perry

The Gamekeeper’s Cottage at Cockington lakes - Credit: Keith Perry

Following the path to the right of the barn leads to the Gamekeeper’s Cottage at Cockington lakes. In the 16th century this was the Warrener’s Cottage as it stood next to a large walled enclosure - the ruins of which can still be seen in places - containing a rabbit warren which provided meat for Cockington Court.
By the 19th century pheasant rearing and shooting was in fashion and a gamekeeper was employed to raise game and keep an eye out for poachers.
The trust records that penalties were harsh with Squire Mallock sentencing a 12-year-old boy to transportation to Australia for poaching a rabbit.
The last gamekeeper, George Giles, left in 1936.
As a slight variation on the return journey you can continue into Cockington Country Park at the top of which, on your left, is a gateway onto Totnes Road. Turn right here and in a couple of hundred yards is the entrance to the pathway approaching the front of Warren Barn.
* This walk follows part of the 35-mile John Musgrave Heritage Trail, named in memory of the enthusiastic Torquay rambler and walk leader. Details of its four sections can be found at www.southdevonramblers.com