South Devon Walks

With its award-winning beaches and picturesque countryside, it’s little surprise that there is a wealth of scenic walks along the English Riviera. From gentle walks for beginners to challenging routes for keen ramblers, there’s something to suit everyone.

Bay Walks

If navigation isn’t your forte, then one of Healthy Lifestyle’s led walks is the thing for you. The walks run regularly in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, with routes of various lengths and difficulty to suit all abilities and fitness levels. The Cary Park walk is great for beginners and those recovering from illness; it’s also wheelchair accessible. Lasting just 30 minutes and covering 0.7 miles, it’s a gentle introduction to South Devon’s walks. (The Cary Park walk runs every Wednesday at 1pm.)

South West Coast Path

Spanning 630 miles along the stunning south coast, this is the longest national trail in the country. It begins in Minehead, Somerset and runs through to Poole Harbour, crossing the Exmoor, North Devon, Cornwall and Dorset coasts along the way. The stretch through Torquay passes right outside The Osborne Hotel, along Meadfoot Beach.

Pick up the path from any point and take in some of the most spectacular views of the south west. There are many things to look out for – visit the South West Coast Path website to find out more about the heritage, wildlife, geological and cultural points of interest.

Blue Plaque Heritage Trail

Discover the history and culture of South Devon on this trail. Scattered across the English Riviera, from Maidencombe down to Berry Head, are 49 blue plaques that mark notable sites and residencies of famous figures throughout history. Sites include Rock House in Torquay, where Rudyard Kipling spent two years, and Hesketh Crescent, where Charles Darwin spent some time – right next to our hotel! You can download a map of the plaques from Torbay Civic Society.

Coves & Cliffs

Explore every nook and cranny of the dramatic coastline with this self-guided walk along the Babbacombe coast. Starting at Anstey’s Cove and finishing at Babbacombe Cricket Club, it’s a 4.5 mile walk along challenging paths that are quite steep at times. You’ll pass many points of interest, including Withy Point, Gasking’s Rock and Devil’s Point.

Coral Coast

You can take a slightly gentler route from Anstey’s Cove along the Torquay Coral Coast. There are still a few inclines, but the route is mainly along the even coastal path. Enjoy the spectacular rock formations and wildlife along this 5.6km route.

Dartmoor Circular Walks

Further inland from the coast is the stunning Dartmoor National Park. If you like hiking, then this is the place for you. There are a number of circular walks, taking you to the finest viewpoints of the park. Worth a mention is the Moors & Tors of Eastern Dartmoor – a 22.5km route, along which you can experience the beauty of the wilderness without straying too far from public roads.

Agatha Christie Mile

For a shorter stroll, take a gander along Torquay’s Agatha Christie Mile. See the sights and places from her early years that inspired some of her famous works, such as the Princess Pier where she enjoyed roller-skating as a child, and The Pavilion where Archie Christie proposed to a young Agatha. You can also arrange guided tours on request to discover even more about the best-selling novelist.

After all that walking, you’re sure to work up an appetite! Join us for lunch or dinner at our newly-refurbished restaurant, The Crescent. Or you can dine al fresco on The Terrace and enjoy breath-taking views of Torbay.

Advertisements

Half Term Activities in Torquay

If you’re planning a trip to Torquay this coming half term, you won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty to see and do for the whole family in this beautiful part of the world…

Head to the beach

Torbay’s mild micro-climate makes the average temperature warmer than the rest of the UK all year round. Take full advantage of it and bask in the sunshine on one of the glorious beaches. Grab a bucket & spade to build sandcastles on Torre Abbey Sands or collect shells and pebbles on Meadfoot Beach. If you’re more of an adventure-seeking family, try your hand at coasteering or climbing with Reach Outdoors at nearby Goodrington Sands, Paignton.

Enjoy the festivities

Celebrate the UNESCO-recognised Global Geopark at the Geopark Festival 2017. There are various activities happening throughout the week. Take a trip to Occombe Farm where you can discover the secrets of the Geopark (27th May – 4th June) or let the little ones play chef at the Marvellous May Kids Cookery event (30th & 31st May).

Join in the fun on the fossil trail at Kents Cavern. Track down the fossils that have been hidden around the site and figure out who has left them to win a prize! (27th May – 4th June.) There’s also the opportunity to enjoy a magical production of Alice in Wonderland… underground! (29th May – 2nd June.)

Take in the sights

Explore the sights of the English Riviera, from Torquay to Paignton, on an open-top bus tour. Or, take in a stunning 360-degree view of Torbay with a ride on the iconic English Riviera Wheel. Located in the picturesque Princess Gardens, the wheel is taller than Nelson’s Column – measuring 60 metres!

The Osborne Hotel is perfectly located to enjoy all the best that Torquay has to offer. Plus, with unrivalled sea views, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and restaurant, you’ll have just as much fun back at the hotel! Check availability.

 

All About Torquay

Now a popular holiday resort, Torquay’s origins can be traced back to the Stone Age. From pre-historic caves to famous novelists, discover the history of this beautiful coastal town…

In the beginning

The town’s inhabitants resided in the coastal caves, now known as Kents Cavern. The caves are one of Europe’s significant Stone Age sites, with rocks dating back 400 million years. Unsurprisingly, Kents Cavern is a key tourist attraction and visitors can take a guided tour to learn all about the 15-year-long Victorian excavation, led by local archaeologist William Pengelly, that unearthed the caves’ history. Tourists can continue their voyage of discovery, with a trip to Torquay Museum where more than 500 stone tools are on display – many of which were found in the excavation.

What’s in a name?

Torre was the town’s ancient name and means “weathered rock outcrop.” It took its name from the remains of the historic quarry, which you can still see on Tor Hill Road. Quay was added at a later date due to the town’s increased fishing activity.*

19th century developments

Torquay’s major phase of development occurred in the 1800s. The Palk family were notable residents and owned much of the land in Torquay during this era. It was under the Palks that a new harbour was built in the early 19th century which increased Torquay’s importance as a fishing town. It was in the second half of the century however, that Torquay came to be known as a popular leisure destination. As seaside holidays became fashionable among the upper classes, Torquay’s mild climate made it one of their preferred holiday spots.

The Osborne Hotel also has its roots in the 19th century developments. It was Sir Lawrence Palk, 4th Baronet, who commissioned the construction of Hesketh Crescent; the grade II listed Regency crescent building we call home. Completed in 1848, it’s a fine example of 19th century architecture and is said to be one of West England’s most elegant crescent buildings.

Notable buildings

Aside from Hesketh Crescent, there are many significant historic buildings in the town. Torre Abbey was founded in 1196 as a monastery. Dissolved in 1539 during Henry VIII’s Reformation, today it’s home to four floors of art exhibitions, heritage and interactive displays.

A mile from the seafront, you’ll find Cockington Court – a stunning manor house built in the 16th century. Now it’s more commonly known as a thriving crafts centre with over 20 studios. The house is open to the public along with its beautiful walled and Tudor rose gardens.

A little bit of mystery

Torquay’s most famous resident is probably crime novelist Agatha Christie. Born in the town in September 1890, her childhood home provided much inspiration for the setting of her popular crime mysteries. Fans of the author can discover more about how Torquay influenced her work with a walk along the Agatha Christie mile, which includes the Princess Gardens and Beacon Cove.

Experience the wonder of Torquay yourself with a stay at our seafront hotel: check availability.

*Source: Travel Wessex.

Planning your trip to Torbay

Plan your trip to Torbay in advance and pencil in some of these fantastic recommendations to make your trip to the coast a vacation to remember:

Riviera Lane

Go for a stroll along Riviera Lane. Just a small part of the 630 mile Southwest Coastal Path, the stunning coastline makes for a beautiful summer walk and the scent of the purple heather turns it into an experience you’ll never forget.

Paignton Zoo

Head a little further out to see over 2000 animals at Paignton Zoo. A fun-filled day out for the whole family, you’ll come across everything from baboons and giant tortoises to boa constrictors and flamingos. You can even book in for an animal experience and get up close and personal with meerkats, giraffes and rhinos.

Little Theatre

Visit the Little Theatre to experience the best theatrical drama that Torbay has to offer. Based in a converted church, this intimate venue has a retro bar and red velvet chairs. Catch classics, comedies and thrillers with the whole family in tow as you enjoy the old school atmosphere.

Ferry Boat

Want to head further out to Brixham and Paignton? Take a ferry service across the bay and relax as you watch the world go by for the 30-minute journey. Private charters are available too for celebrations like weddings and birthdays!

You can also take a ferry trip to Dartmouth, and if you get lucky, you may spot dolphins and other sea life on the way!

English Riviera Wheel

See the sights of Torbay from up high by taking a ride on the English Riviera Wheel.Witness the spectacular views from the centre of the famous Pavillion Gardens in the 360 degree view gondolas. Then finally, head back to the Osborne Hotel for a spot of lunch at Langtry’s or visit the Terrace bar & grill to see the panoramic views across the bay.

How to make the perfect Black Forest Gateau – Interview with Head Chef Kevin Robertson Wells

A Seventies classic, the Black Forest Gateau is a layered dessert rich with chocolate, cherries and cream. With a contemporary twist on this classic cake, Head Chef Kevin Robertson-Wells divulges his secret to making the perfect Black Forest Gateau.

Tips on:

The ‘make or break’ ingredients

Invest in high quality chocolate, Griottine cherries soaked in Kirsch and make your own cherry coulis to create a truly luxurious gateau.

Getting the perfect layers

Getting the perfect layers is important for three reasons. Firstly, the layered construction of the gateau ensures it stands up on its own and can carry the weight of the ingredients set between each round of cake. Secondly, the layering process creates the different level of flavours that result in a delicious and balanced mouthful with every bite. And thirdly, the layers create that WOW factor when you cut into the finished gateau, revealing the decadent strata of chocolate, cherry and mousse in each delicious slice.

The layers (bottom to top):

  • Dark chocolate sponge soaked in kirsch
  • White chocolate mousse
  • Griottine cherries
  • Chocolate sponge
  • Cherry jelly
  • Dark chocolate mousse
  • Chocolate spray
  • Topped with false cherries

The best type of chocolate to use

I highly recommend Callebaut (73% cocoa solids) dark chocolate. This is a chocolate that I’ve used for a long time as a chef because it works really well in a mousse – it lends a Black Forest Gateau the perfect amount of dark chocolate bitterness to offset the sweetness of the filling. I also use Callebaut white chocolate and the sweetness of this too is a great combination with the richness of the dark chocolate.

Using the right kirsch

We use the Kirsch Pur d’Alsace from France because of its high potency and 45% alcohol.  It has the smell and instant taste of kirsch which is classic in any black forest gateau.

Glazed or fresh cherries

I never use glazed cherries because they’re too sweet and the cherry flavour can get lost alongside the dark chocolate. Instead I use (1) fresh cherries to make a coulis for the jelly and (2) Griottine cherries matured in kirsch.

The hardest part

The hardest part of the gateau is the layering. We have to make sure each of the six layers is even and fits perfectly into the mould so that it looks impeccable when served. The layering is also crucial in getting the right balance of flavours for the best taste – layers with perfect symmetry result in a cake that not only looks attractive but tastes perfect; you get the heavenly combination of rich chocolate, sour cherries and fragrant kirsch in every bite.

Key things to avoid

Two key things to avoid are to not make the mousse too thick or the jelly too hard. This can offset the texture and moisture levels of the final cake. It takes two days to make this gateau but, judging on the great comments we get, it’s definitely time well spent!

Decoration – the final touches

Our original gateau was garnished with chocolate shards but our new and improved version includes something extra special: we top it with edible false cherries to create an impressive garnish! Although these cherries take a day to make they are truly worth the time and effort. Here’s how we do it:

  • First we make a cherry coulis and freeze it
  • Then we prep a cherry jelly, which is made with fresh cherry juice
  • Frozen balls of coulis are then dipped into the ‘cherry jelly’ and shaped into the form of a cherry
  • The stalk is made from a dried vanilla pod and the final touches are tiny hand-picked mint leafs

For the ultimate finish we serve the gateau with chocolate sauce and a delicate kirsch ice cream. But even when freshly sliced and served on its own, our glamorous gateau is truly a winning dessert – each of the flavoursome layers boast an intense flavour and a delicate texture that oozes decadence and indulgence.

Reserve a table at our restaurant, Langtry’s – click here.

7 reasons to book direct

Planning a stay at the Osborne Hotel? Make a direct booking using our online service, instead of using an aggregate booking site, to take advantage of the exclusive benefits we have on offer!

  1. Booking direct gives you full access to all of our rooms types and packages, including those suites that aren’t listed on other booking websites such as our gorgeous Sea View Rooms.
  2. We include all of our best rates on our secure online reservations system to help our guests make the most of their money (you won’t find anything cheaper elsewhere!). Your personal details are also automatically encrypted so your information is always kept safe.
  3. Every booking you make is fully flexible – you can cancel or modify your booking up to 24 hours before your stay for no extra cost (unless specified in the booking process).
  4. Plus, you won’t need to make any payments until you arrive at the hotel! (unless specified in the booking process)
  5. Have any questions about your room, want to upgrade or keen to know more about sightseeing spots in Torquay? Bypass the intermediaries, give us a call and a member of our team will provide immediate answers and a personalised service to suit you. We can even provide Champagne on Ice, chocolates and even flowers for romantic stays.
  6. Scroll through our website to view pictures of our rooms that are always up-to-date.
  7. Gain access to web-only extras, such as 10% off dining at Langtry’s Restaurant, free late check out and free room upgrades (where available). Some of our book direct packages also include a free gift on arrival or a glass of Prosecco with Afternoon Tea at our award-winning in-house restaurant.

 

Create the perfect Torquay getaway by booking your stay at the Osborne Hotel here.

How to host a successful meeting

With a venue to arrange, transport to be considered and lots of people to memo and manage, hosting a meeting can be tricky. Here are our tips on what to consider:

 

Location

Is the venue easy to reach? Situated a stone’s throw away from Meadfoot Beach, The Osborne Hotel boasts a superb central location (with excellent transport links) that’s both easy to find and stunningly beautiful.

Size of meeting room

Opt for a space that matches the character of the meeting, for example a small room with conference style seating is perfect for business events where as a buffet function might be better for larger numbers because it can accommodate more people. At the Osborne we offer private dining, spaces for large sit down meals (at both Langtry’s and the Brasserie), board room options for smaller groups and theatre style meetings at the oak panelled library.

Equipment

Arrange for audio visual equipment beforehand so you don’t waste time setting things up for business meetings. On site equipment is ideal because you won’t have to bring anything along with you and you can get started as soon as you arrive.

Refreshments

Tea and coffee is a must at any meeting but you might want to offer guests a meal or light lunch. We offer delegate rates for full and half days that include room hire and food.

Overnight accommodation?

You’ll need to arrange a residential stay for your guests if your meeting is expected to run over a couple of days.  Package deals at The Osborne include breakfast, dinner and luxury accommodation as well as use of the hotel’s leisure facilities.

 

Click here to view our meeting pack, which includes info on all of our meeting rooms and facilities.  Why not book now to benefit from our exclusive seasonal deals? Call us for the details on 01803 213 311 today.