WHEN you walk around Cockington Country Park today you step into a green oasis among the hustle and bustle of Torbay.
It's a place of rest and recreation for hundreds of thousands of people a year and is one of Torbay's most-visited and most-loved parks.
Go there on a sunny weekend and the park is full of people of all ages enjoying the beautiful landscape and the surrounding countryside, as well as the busy village centre and Cockington Court with its craft studios.
The 460-acre country park includes 25 acres of formal parkland, 50 acres of woodland and almost 400 acres of farmland and conservation areas — and along its 10km of footpaths it is easy to find peace and solitude even on the busiest days of the year.
For this reason we think of Cockington as Torbay's Green Heart, providing people with that essential access to the natural world that makes for real quality of life. It is a very special place and, in recognition of this, for each of the last 18 years it has been awarded a Green Flag Park Award, one of only five parks in the country to have held the award for such a long period.
Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, which manages the parkland and surrounding areas, is proud of this achievement. But, as any regular visitor to Cockington will know, there are parts of the park that let the side down and are in need of much greater care and attention. The Cockington Restoration Appeal aims to do just this and, as we say, get Torbay's Green Heart beating.
The project focuses on four main areas:
repair the old ruined Linhay in the village centre and convert it into a centre for visitor information and guidance
restore the lakes, plug the leaks and bring back lost views
convert the Gamekeeper's Cottage into accommodation for six trainee rangers who will live on site and help maintain the park and run activities
deliver a programme of public walks, activities and events to encourage people to enjoy and understand Cockington's amazing heritage.
The trust has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Torbay Council to do more research and consultation on the project, so that we can work out exactly what it will cost and make sure we have all the necessary consents in place.
This work is now under way and, at the same time, we have launched the Cockington Restoration Appeal, to raise funds to match those from the HLF and the council.
We hope the people and businesses of Torbay, and our many thousands of visitors, will dig deep to help us meet our fundraising target and secure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring Cockington up to the standard we all want to see and for our children to enjoy.