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The seaside town of Paignton, at the heart of the English Riviera.

Paignton is the perfect location for a school like ours. It is a smaller, friendly community with a population of around 45,000 inhabitants. This means all our carefully selected homestay hosts are within walking distance of the school. The town centre and beach are always only a short walk away from the homestay hosts or the school. Paignton forms part of Torbay, or the English Riviera. It has a lovely climate with warmer winters than most parts of the UK and hotter summers - we are one of the few places you will find palm trees growing in parks and gardens. Torbay is a group of 3 towns, Paignton in the middle, Torquay to the north and Brixham to the south. Regular buses connect Paignton to Torquay (15 minutes journey) and Brixham (20 minutes).

Town Centre/ Shopping

Paignton has a small compact town centre based on Hyde Road, Victoria Street and Palace Avenue within walking distance of the school and homestay hosts with the usual high street shops and amenities - with a number of smaller locally-owned shops. For something different the oldest part of town - Winner Street - is home now to a growing number of smaller shops selling antiques and curiosities.

Not one but three beaches!

Paignton is lucky enough to have 3 great beaches all within walking distance. All three of Paignton's beaches have lovely red sand and shallow water so great places to swim safely. They all have their own characters and attractions. At high tide the beaches are quite small, but at low tide (every 6 hours) a big expanse of sand magically appears!

Paignton Sands

The main beach at Paignton is only 2 minute walk from the school. It has a classic Pier with its amusements, and behind it the wonderful Paignton Green which is frequently used for concerts, fairs and events. There is a great playpark for younger children and several cafes - the Shoreline looks directly out onto the sea.

Preston Beach is on the Torquay side of Paignton. Lined with its classic beach huts it is a favourite among locals. The Boathouse Café on the beach is open year round as a bar restaurant and has a great outside seating area overlooking the sea.

Goodrington Sands
A short walk south along the coast path along the beautiful cliffs at Roundham brings you to Goodrington beach. Like Preston and Paignton, another long sandy beach with safe bathing. There is a café (Red Rocks) and a pub and hotel (Premier Inn Paignton) directly by the seaside.

These beaches make an ideal jogging route which follows the coast path.

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Paignton Zoo and Enviromental Park

Easily one of the best and biggest zoos in the country. It began as a botanical gardens (there are botanical tours annually still), and the parkland the zoo occupies is a pleasure to walk round .

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Splashdown - Quaywest Water Park

The only outdoor water park in the West of England - heated water on some great waterslides in the most perfect of locations on the beach at Goodrington.


The picturesque and unspoilt village of Cockington lies in the middle between Paignton and Torquay. Whilst you can walk to it from Paignton (approximately 45 minutes) it is an easy 15 minute bus ride away. A lovely historic village with traditional thatched cottages and landscaped gardens and lakes. There is a beautiful little historic church next to the Manor House - Cockington Court - home to a café and craft workshops you can visit.

Oldway Mansion & Gardens

Just behind the school is a unique park and building - Oldway Mansion. Isaac Singer, inventor of the Singer Sewing Machine, chose this location to build his family home here in 1872. One of the richest men of his time, he spared no expense creating his dream house which included a 100 seat theatre and circular horse riding pavilion. His son Paris later transformed the building into a version of the Palace of Versailles. The inside of the house is currently closed pending restoration, but the gardens, designed and created by the French garden master Duchene, can be explored free of charge. The Principal Paul Hawthorne has written a history of Oldway and the Singer family in Paignton.

Vue Cinema

A modern 9 screen cinema on Paignton's seafront giving you access to the latest films in the most modern of settings.

Palace Theatre

Our charming little theatre shows a range of drama all year round, including many by Agatha Christie. Many plays are produced by dedicated local community actors. Catch the big touring London shows, the Princess Theatre in Torquay (20 minutes by bus).

Torbay Leisure Centre

The Main swimming pool and sports centre for Torbay, with a new gymnasium. Also public badminton and squash courts, and a newly constructed outdoor velodrome.

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Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boats

Paignton is the start of one of the most scenic steam railways in the country. Trains leave Paignton stopping at Churston and Greenway for Agatha Christie's house before arriving at Kingswear where you take the ferry across the River Dart of Dartmouth. Some of the most beautiful landscape in England. Steam trains run year round. The "Round Robin" is not to be missed, a journey combining Steam Train, River Boat and Bus in a circular trip starting and finishing at Paignton.

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Torquay is Paignton's nearest neighbour and slightly larger, with a population of 65,000. It has a larger shopping centre built around its busy harbour. A short taxi or bus ride from Paignton, it has a number of nice restaurants and bars you can try. It has a bowling alley, museum and Paignton Zoo's "Living Coasts" on the harbour. Kent's Cavern caves are a short distance from the harbour, as is the Model Village - both major attractions.

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Brixham is smaller than Paignton, and is a working fishing port - one of the most important in the UK. You can visit the fish market early in the morning on certain dates to see the amazing range of fish landed here. It is a lovely picturesque fishing port with a marina.  Walk a short distance along the coast path to reach the spectacular cliffs of Berry Head at the end of Torbay - where you can see the fort built to protect Torbay from Napoleon.

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Paignton, Torquay and Brixham are designated The English Riviera UNESCO GEOPARK in honour of the importance of their geology, and specialist tours are available from the school and locally. Learn more about this important status here. The 2016 international UNESCO geopark conference takes place in September 2016.

South West England

The South West counties of England, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, are all areas of outstanding natural beauty. There are two coastlines, a Channel one and an Atlantic one, windswept moorlands and charming villages, unchanged in centuries, have inspired writers, artists and film makers.

Here are some highlights below:

Dartmoor National Park

Just 45 minutes from Paignton is the 1,000km2 of Dartmoor National Park - southern England's last great wilderness. Dartmoor is famous for its ponies that live freely on the moor, as well as its notorious prison and as the setting for Sherlock Holmes's most famous adventure, the Hound of the Baskervilles.


The most westerly county of England, Cornwall is full of wonderful places to visit. Its Atlantic coast supports a thriving surfing industry based on the wide sandy beaches of town such as Newquay. In the very west, the town of St. Ives is famous for its artists and is home to the Tate Gallery St Ives, which will reopen in the autumn of 2016 with a new permanent collection of local work by artists including Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. The softer south coast is home to picturesque fishing villages with easy reach of day trips from Paignton such as Polperro and Looe. Cornwall was an important mining region in previous centuries, and West Devon and Cornwall are a UNESCO World Heritage site for this industry. Inland Bodmin Moor is home to Jamaica Inn - made famous by the writer Daphne du Maurier, and smuggling is at the heart of the history of this wonderful region. Cornwall has some of the loveliest beaches and coast line of anywhere in the UK.


Just 20 minutes from Paignton, Greenway is a large house and gardens next to the River Dart. The present house was built in the late 18th century. It was bought by the world famous crime writer Agatha Christie in 1938. Just like visitors today, Agatha and her husband fell in love with its romantic riverside location and idyllic gardens.

With thanks to for selected images.

Tintagel Dark Age

The famous castle ruins on the North Cornwall coast with storied connections to the legend of King Arthur.The famous castle ruins on the North Cornwall coast with storied connections to the legend of King Arthur.

St Michaels Mount X

The famous, tidal island monastery off the coast from Cornish town of Marazion that dates back to the 8th Century and inhabited by people for around 6,000 years.

St Ives Beach

The beautiful, Cornish town of St Ives is surrounded on three sides by the sea. An important centre for arts and crafts for generations and is home to the Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden and Leach Pottery.

2B Wells Cathedral

Visit one of the most beautiful cathedrals in England in the attractive city of Wells, the smallest city in England.

Bath Bridge And River

One of the most architecturally attractive cities in England. Visit the Roman baths, the abbey, Georgian crescents, bridges and lots of excellent museums including the Holbourne Museum, the Jane Austen Centre, the Fashion Museum and theVictoria Art Gallery.

Salisbury From The Air

The ancient Cathedral city of Salisbury on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The spire of the 13th Century Cathedralwas one of the tallest buildings in the world and it can still be seen from miles around.

Dartmouth Panorama

A beautiful town with a rich history situated at the mouth of the River Dart. Famous for its Naval College, castle and Royal Regatta. 

Exeter Customs House Quay

Salcombe is a fashionable holiday resort specialising in sailing on the River Yealm in the part of South Devon known as the South Hams (Ham in old English means village). It is the place to be seen with your yacht. Salcombe is quite a posh town. The clothing shop Jack Wills first started here and Crew Clothing and Quba Sails, too.

An interesting place to visit just outside the town is Overbecks House, former home of the eccentric inventor, Otto Overbecks. Here you can see his electronic rejuvenator which he claimed stopped people getting old. There are great views from the garden up along the river.

For those with a sweet tooth, there is also a chocolate factory.

Salcombe is an hour from Paignton on a Devon School minibus.