Home / articles / A Virtual Tour of South Devon – part 2, Torquay Harbour to Wellswood

A Virtual Tour of South Devon – part 2, Torquay Harbour to Wellswood

After a well-earned rest after our virtual walk around Torquay harbour and sea front, we are now going further afield.  If we take the road from the harbour, past the Regency houses and Living Coasts, the sea life centre, we eventually come to Daddyhole Plain, a plateau between Torquay and Babbacombe. This makes an ideal vantage point for watching the Torbay Air Display and the Red Arrows when they visit Torquay each summer.

This is the view looking towards Berry Head from Meadfoot beach

Continuing our walk eastwards, we can glimspe the Headland Hotel where our elder son and our daughter in law were married last year.  This was originally built as a holiday home for the Russian royal family, the Romanovs. 

Our route then takes us down to Meadfoot, where the lovely Hesketh Crescent was built (seen on our first stroll around the Bay) and in front of Hesketh Crescent is Meadfoot Beach with, on the headland overlooking the beach, Kilmorie flats which were built in 1961.

Meadfoot beach with Thatch Rock and the Orestone in the background

From here the journey takes us through Ilsham Valley, a grassy area, a nice place for picnics or for children to play …

If you walk up through the valley you eventually arrive at Kents Cavern, the prehistoric caves which were discovered in Victorian times.  According to the late historian W G Hoskins, these are “the oldest recognisable human dwellings in Britain. Here Neanderthal man sought winter refuge fro the cold of the last Ice Age, and here have been fond a quantity of Mousterian implements deposited round about a hundred thousand years ago.”  It is a very long time since we were in these caves, perhaps when our sons were about 8 and 11 years of age.

Ilsham Valley from above the valley, the sea in the distance

After Kents Cavern (no apostrophe, this is how it is spelt) we are in the ‘village’ of Wellswood.  First we pass pretty cottages …

 

 

 

And a short distance away, built in the 1960s are some nouveau-Regency style houses, rather attractive but a little too Disney-esque for my liking, as if they were built for a film set.

Eventually we come to the parade of shops …

This area is known as Wellswood village, and on the right, behind the trees, is Wellswood C of E Academy (aka primary school) and St Matthias’ Church (Church of England).

Between the main road from Torquay to Babbacombe is an ornate drinking fountain and water trough, no longer used for these purposes but which was refurbished a few years ago and on the paving beneath the fountain are the names of seventeen renowned individuals who once resided in the area.

Wellswood is a very wooded area, and one day, on a walk around the area we wandered to a vantage point from where we could look above the trees, with just rooftops poking through the greenery.

On one house there is a blue plaque informing people that Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great Victorian engineer, once stayed there for a short period.

The plaque is on the exterior garden wall, but it isn’t possible to photograph the house which is situated beyond a gated drive.

Leaving Wellswood behind us we are now on the main road to Babbacombe, but here we will rest and continue our journey next time.  (This was the ‘scenic’ route from the harbour to Wellswood.  There is a more direct route up the main road to Babbacombe, but I thought you’d prefer to see Meadfoot beach, Ilsham Valley and Wellswood.

This is the main road between Torquay harbour and the village of Babbacombe

Until next time.

 

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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17 comments

  1. Enjoyable virtual visit to Devon! I love all the architecture, the woods, the parks, the ocean, views that you have shown us on your blog.

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Such a lovely part of England. No wonder the hoards flock to Devon in the summer. The water fountain is very ornate.I’m always intrigued when something rather grand like this is found in a small village.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the water fountain is rather grand. It was to do with John Snelgrove who was offered a partnership by James Marshall and their company became Marshall & Snelgrove, the Oxford Street department store (it was later to merge with Debenhams.) John Snelgrove married the daughter of James Marshall and they had two sons and three daughters. Following John’s retirement at the age of 70 in 1885 the Snelgroves spent much of their time in Torquay and lived in Wellswood. “A lifelong supporter of charitable causes, John became a major benefactor of St Matthias Parish Church and generously supported local organisations …” it says in a book I have. Indeed, there are memorials to John Snelgrove in St Matthias Church in the form of a stained glass window and an ornate rood screen. “The community also benefitted with the gift of an ornate memorial drinking foundtain and water trough,” the book also says. It was designed by local sculptor, Frank Lynn Jenkins and the Torquay company that built it was also involved in the creation of the Queen Victoria Memorial in the Mall. `

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        I remember the name Marshall & Snelgrove though I’m not sure if I ever went there.
        It is always interesting to know the provenance of something. There’s always a story.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, it’s fun to find out the story behind such things as the drinking fountain. I have a whole shelf of books on local places and I read about the fountain in a booklet I have on Wellswood.

  3. Thank you Margaret, my cat and I enjoyed your tour immensely – and all from the comfort of my air conditioned room 😉 I loved the name ‘Daddyhole Plain’. Definitely a quirky one. Your beaches are very different to ours – but then Australia is renowned for its surfing beaches so that isn’t fair. However, as I’ve said (many times) before, I love learning about others’ homelands. Many of those buildings are magnificent. Stunning architecture.

    I noticed in the photo ‘parade of shops’ that several of the cars parked along the kerb are the wrong way around. I noticed the same in another photo in a recent post. Is this legal in the U.K. ? When you park your car along the kerb in an urban area in Australia we must park facing forward, in the direction of the traffic (ie all in th same direction) unless a sign specifies otherwise. You can be fined by a Police officer or parking inspector for parking the wrong wat round.

    • Margaret Powling

      We do have some quirky names here in Devon, but I think the whole of the UK has some quirky names. You’d like TICKELMORE STREET, which is a street in Totnes. Our surfing beaches are in N. Devon or Cornwall. Croyde in N Devon is a surfing beach, as is Fistral beach near Newquay in Cornwall, surfers come from all over the world to surf at Fistral. Not my kind of thing at all, I only like the sea to look at!
      Unless a street is a one-way street, the cars can park in any direction they like, going up or going down the street. I think your system would be better, actually.

  4. Thank you Margaret, my cat and I enjoyed your tour immensely – and all from the comfort of my air conditioned room 😉 I loved the name ‘Daddyhole Plain’. Definitely a quirky one. Your beaches are very different to ours – but then Australia is renowned for its surfing beaches so that isn’t fair. However, as I’ve said (many times) before, I love learning about others’ homelands. Many of those buildings are magnificent. Stunning architecture.

    I noticed in the photo of the ‘parade of shops’ that several of the cars parked along the kerb are facing the wrong way around. I noticed the same in another photo in a recent post. Is this legal in the U.K. ? When you park your car along the kerb in an urban area in Australia we must park facing forward, in the direction of the traffic (ie all in th same direction) unless a sign specifies otherwise. You can be fined by a Police officer or parking inspector for parking the wrong wat round.

  5. Loving your virtual tours of Torquay. Haven’t been to Torquay for many years even though we are only about an hour away. Definitely want to come again but think we’ll wait until the Spring and some slightly warmer weather! X

    • Margaret Powling

      Spring is a lovely time in Torquay, late May, early June perhaps the best time. It can be cold right up to May, though. Our younger son has his birthday right at the end of May and when he was little we used to take him and his older brother to the Zoo for the birthday treat, taking a picnic and a birthday cake and often we were swaddled in winter coats.

  6. Thank you for the mini tour of Devon Margaret, it does make me hanker for summer though, all those blue skies and sun sparkling on the sea, sigh! It’s grey and drizzly in East Anglia today…

    • Margaret Powling

      It’s a lovely day here in South Devon, Elaine and, thankfully, much milder, too. We have been to get the Christmas tree this morning, but more of that in my next post, I think.

  7. Beautiful!

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jeannine, glad you have enjoyed our little virtual tour. When we have rested sufficiently, we will continue our travels.

  8. I’m sighing with delight at your tour, Margaret. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. Your corner of the world is so beautiful and contains such remarkable history. I love thinking about the generations of people who previously inhabited your towns and visited the beaches – oh the stories that could be told if the walls and trees could speak.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Karen, and I’m so pleased you have enjoyed the virtual tour from the harbour to Wellswood. When I was at my small private primary school, Ilsham Valley is where we went for games as there wasn’t sufficient space around the school for such pursuits, so I have many happy memories of playing rounders there. It won’t be long before we virtually travel again.

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