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A Walk from Wellswood to Walls Hill

One summer’s day in 2013 husband and I parked our car in Wellswood and decide to walk to the Palace Hotel for a cream tea, only a few hundred yards up the road in the direction of Babbacombe.   The Palace Hotel is one of Torquay’s iconic buildings.  On a wall outside there is a blue plaque …

And close by, another commemorative plaque …

For whatever reasons – changing habits for holidays when you can go abroad for the same amount of money as it is to stay in a hotel such as this; the expense of running such a large building where costs outweigh income – this hotel has been closed for a year.  It is a sad-looking place today, the walls becoming soiled, weeds in the drive, barriers across the entrance – but it has been bought, along with other buildings in the Borough, by a business consortium and the whole site is set to be developed. How long into the future this will be, I don’t know, but I’m just so glad that I knew this lovely building in it’s hey day, the 1950s, when, with my parents, I would attend the golf club ball (no pun intended!) at Christmas.

The last time I visited the Palace was for a Christmas Fayre a few years ago, and then I realized that for this building time had stood still, the interior having changed little in the last 50 years.  The last time I ate there was for a Millennium charity lunch at which the guest speaker was Jennie Bond, the royal correspondent for the BBC. I had been seconded by the county magazine, Devon Life, to take photos of the event and give a short report.

Such events were often held at the Palace as it had the largest dining room of any hotel in the Bay.

However, the hotel was still up and running in 2013 when husband and I enjoyed a cream tea on the terrace overlooking the gardens and the small 9-hole golf course …

After we had enjoyed our scones, jam and cream, we decided to continue walking from the Palace Hotel, through the woods and lanes, to Wall’s Hill, and then return via the main road back to Wellswood, a circular walk of about 3/4 hour to 1 hour.

You first pass Anstey’s Cove, which I showed on yesterday’s post.  This is the cove that is closest to the Palace Hotel …

The cliffs here are granite, unlike the softer red sandstone cliffs in other parts of the Bay, some of which have crumbled and caused huge rock falls onto the beaches particularly Oddicombe Beach.

There is a path to this small cove, but we weren’t taking that on this occasion. Instead we walked on a little way and then on our right we went up a long flight of steps to a lane, surrounded by hedgerows and trees.  The cliffs were only a few yards away to our right on this path, but you could only catch glimpses of the sea, every now and again, as it was all so very overgrown.

But when you do catch glimpses of the coastline, it is beautiful, even on a fairly dull day …

From here it was but a few minutes before we found ourselves on Wall’s Hill …

It is a rather bleak area of open land with few seats for people to sit and rest, but with few trees, the land being so exposed to the prevailing wind, but the views of the coastline, part of Lyme Bay, are spectacular.   Once across the headland, you dip down again into a small valley where there is what must be the smallest cricket pitch in the Bay (that green area in the centre of the photo below …

In the distance you can see the beginning of the village of Babbacombe, the spire being that of St Anne’s Church.  Before you leave Wall’s Hill – where, as a child, I used to visit the fair each summer with my parents (this no longer comes to Wall’s Hill; it was a traditional fair with roundabouts and a helter-skelter) you pass some pretty cottages …

before turning to your left and returning to Wellswood via the main Babbacombe Road.  On the opposite side of the road to the Palace Hotel is the lovely 1930s block of flats, built in the Art Deco style, Georgian Court. I always find it amusing that it’s called “Georgian” Court, but then there was a George as king at the time of building.

I love this building.  Such attention to detail by the architect and builder, it’s almost a perfect cube.  Five storeys high, five windows across the façade, and if I recall (for I can’t see them clearly here) each brick pilaster is five bricks across, too.  I even think that the windows have five horizontal panes of glass.  I have always thought that if I didn’t live in a house and had to live in a flat (apartment to those outside the UK) this is where I would like to live. It’s Very Hercule Poirot is it not?

I hope you enjoyed your meander around another part of Torbay?

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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12 comments

  1. You find some lovely walks, although on a wet day like today I don’t think I’ll bother! It’s hard to believe it was sunny and warm a few days ago.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Alison, and after a dull start it has become very hot and humid but the moment we put the steamer chairs in the garden, under the walnut tree and put the new cushions on them, it clouded over and it looks like it will begin to rain shortly. Husband has sanded the steamer chairs and we are now deciding whether to paint them the same colour of green as the garden bench, or stain them with a suitable wood stain, or leave them pale wood, which they are now, and just give them a clear varnish. I don’t mind any of these options, but I don’t want them stained that awful bright orange you see on much garden furniture. We’ve not had rain for some time here and yes, there are some lovely walks, both long and short, within the Bay, and even though we’re in an urban and not a country area.

      • I tend to prefer a natural wood colour so I would probably go with a clear varnish. I hate orange fencing, I used to quite like the colour of creosote (and the smell!) but that’s not allowed nowadays, is it? The new fencing we had a couple of years ago is pre-treated but quite pale in colour.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Yes, creosote … I’d totally forgotten about that! A wonderful smell! That takes me back to childhood when tar used to be spread on roads, too! And the scent of Wright’s Coal Tar Soap! A bit like Marmite, something you love or hate!
          Yes, I like natural wood very much, as does husband. I’ve an idea that natural wood with clear varnish will win the day!

  2. Oh, I love the Georgian Court at first sight. Even before reading your comment I thought about Hercule Poirot :). The bay windows at the side wall are perfect. Thank you for a lovely walk 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Isn’t Georgian Court wonderful? Glad you also like it, Maria! A couple of years ago I wrote a piece for the Property Section of the local paper on some of the iconic buildings within the Bay, and this was one of them. In my researches, I visited one of the estate agents and it just happened that they had a photo of Georgian Court under construction with a notice advertising “Luxurious Mansion Flats.” I think it is undoubtedly one of the most attractive buildings in the Bay but, surprisingly, I was unable to find anything about it until I visited this estate agent, and it was pure luck that he had the photos dating back 80 years.
      Glad you enjoyed our walk, too.

  3. I enjoyed our ‘walk’ immensely ! Your photos are always stunning and your words descriptive and informative. You are very knowledgeable across many fields. As I started reading I was curious what ‘cream tea’ was and when I saw the photograph I thought to myself ‘oh it’s what we call a Devonshire Tea’ (here in Australia). After reading your blog and the many comments all of this time I know that there is a distinct difference in the UK between what is added to the scone first – the jam or the cream – depending on whether in Devon or Cornwell yet I still forget which is which ha ha. For me, I’m strictly jam then cream 😉

    The cottage and the block of units / flats / apartments are beautiful. I noticed the glasswork in the door of the cottage. Very pretty. And yes, the symmetry (and perfection) of the ‘Georgian Court’ is magnificent. I could well imagine Hercule Poirot finding it quite acceptable. Thank you for taking us with you again xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and I’m glad you enjoyed our walk. What I like about our virtual walks is that they are not exhausting, and we can go in any weather condition and without the need for heavy walking boots, too! I think I will write about the continuation of the walk so instead of returning to our car in Wellswood, we might walk along Babbacombe Downs to the village of St Marychurch where I spent much of my childhood – that is a lovely walk, so look out for that coming soon.
      A cream tea in England consists mainly of scones (plain or fruit scones), jam and clotted cream. Clotted cream is a really thick cream, but not one that has been whipped up to be thick. That is a cream tea. An afternoon tea is a cream tea with knobs on, as they say, i.e. ‘finger’ sandwiches, the aforementioned scones, jam and cream, and then pastries and cakes, with tea to drink (and sometimes these days a glass of sparkling wine.)
      Yes, the Cornish put the jam on first (they also use what they call Cornish splits, which are more bread-like than our scones) and then the cream on top, and in Devon we treat the cream as you would butter, i.e. putting that on the scone first and then the jam on top.
      Glad you like seeing Georgian Court. It really is a lovely apartment block (or block of flats as we would say) and still very smart considering it’s age.

  4. Yes, I would also say ‘a block of flats’. Although this is no longer ‘fashionable’ – these days developers and estate agents tend to refer to those dwellings as apartments. I love how language changes over time but it can also be confusing some times. Examples of the latter escape me just this moment.

    ‘…cream tea with knobs on …’. Oh I love that term ! I’ve never heard it before. Further proof that we can all learn something new each day 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, language does change. For example a backpack would have been rucksack when I was a teenager, or a haversack when my mother was young. They are all much the same thing. And people listened to the wireless when I was a girl, now it’s the radio (or they are listening to music that is ‘streamed’). This is where reasonably young writers can come adrift. I’m currently reading a book with a dual narrative, partly set in WW2 in Bath, England, and partly now. In the war part the “radio” is mentioned when people would never have said that then, it was always the “wireless”. Maybe this is to make the story accessible to younger readers today (those below 50!) who think ‘wireless’ is a teckie term to do with broadband, just as a mouse is no longer first and foremost a small rodent!
      Oh, we used to say something had knobs on when it was decorated to the highest degree. There must be similar sayings in your ‘neck of the woods’ (i.e. where you live.)

  5. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    You really do live in a most beautiful county, Margaret. Little wonder that so many find the need to visit!
    I always put jam on first as I find it easier to spread cream over jam than the other way round. But so long as we get to eat them who cares!
    I’m not sure when flats became apartments, but local builders have been selling them here for a few years now. I’m not sure that there is any difference except that they seem to attract a disproportionately high price.
    Language variation fascinates me. As children growing up in the 60s, we used the term ‘with brass knobs on’ …one better than just plain knobs, I suppose! My children laugh when I say ‘pictures’ instead of cinema and my granddaughter found my use of the word ‘briskly’ hilarious!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, we feel very fortunate to live in an area where people pay to visit, Eloise. But all parts of the UK have merit, just some more than others, I think.
      Oh yes, with brass knobs on! I remember that! I don’t know why your granddaughter should think “briskly” hilarious, though. It’s how you walk when you want to keep warm!

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