The day dawned bright and breezy and the morning hush hung in the air. A tabby cat looked decidedly nonplussed at someone being up so early on a Sunday out of choice.
As I crested the hill, an easterly wind smacked me in the face vigorously enough to make my cheeks turn pink with cold. The sea glittered and beckoned. It’s exhilarating to be up and out running before many people are awake, it’s like you’ve got the outdoors to yourself.
Delving down into the valley, I passed through Cockington Country Park. Here, 450 acres of ornamental lakes, woodland, thatch cottages, a manor house and an 11th century church nestle quietly, and it is home to the only known species of Jamaican Fiddlewood in Europe.
I dodge an enthusiastically bouncy Cocker Spaniel and say hello to its apologetic owner before plodding past the Drum Inn, designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the man responsible for Castle Drogo among many other notable buildings and war memorials.
Skirting bleary-eyed early morning walkers, I jogged through watermeadows and tasted sea salt on my tongue. Cockington is a short distance from Torquay seafront; a village within a town both of which draw thousands of tourists each year.
The east-facing natural harbour of Torbay takes a battering when the wind blows a contrary direction; waves heave roughly against walls and cliffs but it makes for dramatic scenes.
The wind whipped my hair and pressed up against my right-side as I ran towards Torre Abbey, founded in 1196 and once England’s wealthiest monastery of the order of the Premonstratensian canons. It is now one of the best preserved medieval abbeys in Devon and Cornwall.
Nearby stands an exquisite former tithe barn which held 397 prisoners during the Spanish Armada. Today, you can get married there.
Turning back, I was glad to have the wind against my back but reluctant to say goodbye to the sea. Now I started the climb home. At least the weather was giving me a helping hand and the sun, stronger now, was bathing Torquay in a yellow glow.
START AND FINISH: Cockington Country Park (car parks and loos), Cockington Lane, Torquay, TQ2 6AX
RUN: Plenty of waymarked trails within Cockington of varying difficulty and terrain making it ideal for all abilities. From the village, follow signposts to ‘seafront’. Cross road at traffic lights, turn left and follow road past the headland of Corbyn Head. Cross road again at traffic lights to explore Torre Abbey Meadows. Retrace route back to Cockington.