South Devon is a wonderful park of the South Coast to visit, whether you are interested in walking, biking, crabbing, swimming or just chilling out, there are the moors to the North and stunning beaches, coastal paths and estuaries to the south.
Many of the towns and villages still show their bygone charm, with the beautiful picturesque and sometimes narrow country lanes the easy option for most is public transport, leave the car at your holiday home and go on a real adventure, its amazing what sights and scenes you will see when you’re sitting on an open top bus, a boat or train, I very much recommend using the train it is a spectacular scenic route along the coast from Paignton to Exeter even onwards. It is also a fantastic way to see the variety of wildlife along the way from gannets and dolphins, kingfishers, seals and osprey, the river boat along the Dart from Dartmouth is a brilliant option for this. This county certainly offers something for everyone.
Paignton is a seaside town on the coast of Torbay in Devon, England.
Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the borough of Torbay which was created in 1998.
Known as the English Riviera, you can understand why! The palm trees that are dotted about the centre give the impression that you’re on a continental holiday and when the sun shines, you can imagine yourself being almost anywhere in the world.
Paignton is a great place as a base for a holiday in Devon, not only do you have a whole host of things to do right on your doorstep, but you’re in an ideal location to explore the surrounding areas.
Plenty of entertainment and things to do on the Pier.
My first visit to Paignton was during that long hot summer of 1976, at the age of 13 it was a family holiday, and unfortunately my main memory of this holiday was suffering from sun stroke.
We stayed at Goodrington Sands in a caravan and another great memory was of the great thunderstorm which we had, that scared the life out of my parents, my nan and me, we were all ready to leave the caravan if we had to, whilst my little brother who then was age 9 slept through it!!, I have never been so scared as that night, with the thunder right over and echoing around the bay, the torrential rain and flashing of lightning every few seconds, who knows what was going to happen, but the storm passed and back to bed we went safe and sound.
We had never been back to Devon until last year 2021, Mark and myself decided as we couldn’t go to our favourite holiday destination (Orlando) with Covid-19 border closures, so we had a UK holiday, firstly up North which will appear in another blog, to the Midlands and then down to Devon.
We travelled from West Bromwich where we had been staying, joining the M5 at junction 1 and travelled the whole length of it to where in ended at junction 31 Exeter then continuing down the A38.
Arriving in Devon in torrential rain was not the best start, driving conditions were horrendous, but we made it, now to find our accommodation.
We were staying in a one bedroom apartment called 8 Belvedere Court, which is Preston Sands end of Paignton and what a beautiful place, it had allocated parking around the back of the apartment block, and lift access which was very useful (that’s the best thing about a UK holiday with the car I can take as much as I want!).
A balcony accessible from both the living room and the bedroom was a lovely addition, a welcome pack awaited us with milk in the fridge, tea bags, sugar, and two different types of lovely biscuits perfect for settling in.
The kitchen was perfect for just the two of us, with a full size fridge freezer, washer/dryer, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, electric hob and oven, table and four chairs. The living room had a sofa/bed and an armchair.
The bedroom was lovely, with a patio door leading to the balcony which had a table and 2 chairs to sit out on, a king-size bed which was so comfy, towels were provided and half way through our holiday we were contacted to see if we wanted some fresh linen, which I thought was a lovely touch.
For us the only thing with the apartment that was a slight issue, was the shower, the water pressure was very poor but this as I say was just a slight issue and we would certainly stay here again.
With the location the road noise could be an issue especially with having the patio doors open, its a one way road and the main one along the esplanade, but again it didn’t bother us too much.
I would definitely recommend 8 Belvedere Court if you are staying in Paignton, its location is perfect just a 5 minute walk and you are on the beautiful red sandy beach of Preston Sands.
Along the esplanade in Paignton, there is themed mini golf, Paignton pier is good fun and a little eatery cabin just over the road serving teas, coffees, breakfasts and burgers/chips with a added touch of playing Elvis, this made my day, a bacon butty and Elvis on the morning before we set off too Poole our next stop perfect.
I just want to make a quick mention about the beach at Paignton, it is lovely, a beautiful red colour, and perfect for walking along, it is also a dog haven they love it. There is like most beaches, a curfew and dogs are not allowed on between May and September.
A walk along the South West Footpath that is a must to do if you are a walker, this one is from Paignton to Brixham, with some history thrown in along the way.
Starting in the centre of Paignton at the Railway Station, turn right on Victoria Street, turn into Torbay Road by crossing the level crossing. Walk past the shops and take Queens Road which is the third road on the right, turn into Torbay Park and walk towards the seafront.
When you reach the esplanade, cross the road onto the seafront, turn right to then join the South West Coast Path as it makes its way towards the harbour.
Paignton Harbour was created in 1838 when an efficient landing place was required to take out the two important exports at that time, cider and giant pole cabbages, today its a crab processing plant that provides employment and a popular food for local hotels and restaurants, with the local leisure boards plying their trade to the tourists.
Continuing on at the top of the slope leading up to the road, overlooking the harbour you will see a small whitewashed building that is now the public toilets, this used to be the Preventatives Station, otherwise known as Coastguards, these had the unenviable job of trying to apprehend the smugglers who were so numerous along this coast during the 18th and 19th centuries. Large quantities of contraband was landed on Paignton Beach and much of the time the preventatives sensibly turned a blind eye!!
Now you need to access Roundham Head, from the harbour there are a choice of routes, the paved route is via Cliff Road whist another more difficult but interesting way is along the South Quay and across Fairy Cove, climbing up the steps to then join Cliff Road.
Below the footpath on the initial section are rocks known as the Paignton Ledges, in February 1804 the warship Venerable was shipwrecked.
Going around the head itself, here you will find a variety of zig zag paths all over the reddish cliffs, and Goodrington Beach comes into sight.
In 1929 the Rock Walk and the promenade were constructed taking 2 years to complete, this included the night-time floodlights. The actual work was carried out by Welsh miners as part of a work creation scheme during the great depression, and some of the semi-tropical plants that were supplied by Herbert Whitley of Paignton Zoo at the time, still survive today.
Following down one of the paths that lead onto the promenade path of Goodrington North Sands, there is a small rocky area known as Middle Stone that divides Goodrington into North and South.
Goodrington Sands is a safe sandy award winning beach, unique in Torbay that at high tide there is still quite a lot of beach left to sit on at the southern end of the beach.
Now continue onwards following the path past the amusements and Quay West water park, shops, toilets and the South Sands Cafe until you cross under the railway line.
The coast path winds its way between the railway line, houses and mobile homes on Waterside Holiday Park.
In 1864 the South Devon Railway was extended from Paignton to Kingswear, The Dart Valley Railway acquired the line in 1973 after the line was threated with closure.
At Saltern Cove there is an old stone bridge that spans the railway line onto the grassy headland, Saltern Cove is a site of special scientific interest and a local nature reserve. In Britain this is unique as the reserve extends underwater to a point 376 metres below low water mark.
Sadly over the past 25 years in the immediate area of Goodrington and Broadsands, the high number of tourists has caused a diversity of bird species on the rocky foreshore.
Re-cross the bridge and turn left to continue this walk, you will see some concrete steps that lead down to the end of Broadsands Park Road.
As the cost path crosses under the impressive Broadsands railway viaduct turn left, follow the coast path around Broadsands beach, this is a sandy cove with a long line of beach huts.
The path continues at a fairly low level around Churston Point to come out onto Elberry Cove.
This is a crescent strand of bleached pebble which provides a sheltered spot where Lord Churston created a 19th century sea water bathing house, today a rather romantic ruin overlooks water-skiing and bathing activities.
Elberry cove was said to be a favourite bathing site of the famous crime novelist Agatha Christie, local settings were used in many of her books, including The ABC Murders where Detective Poirot alights at Churston Station to investigate a murder at Elberry Cove.
From Elberry Cove the path climbs quite steeply away from the beach and passes along a woodland fringe, with glimpses of the sea for the next half mile, on your right is Churston Golf Course.
This is an 18 hole course, opened in 1890 on land provided by Lord Churston. The sycamore trees in this area are salt resistant and provide a protective barrier for the other trees.
Descend down the steps by Fishcombe Point to Churston Cove, this is a picturesque and unspoilt inlet with a shingle beach, it is hard to believe you are at the entrance to Brixham outer harbour.
Follow on the coast path through The Grove, an ancient semi-natural woodland, coming out onto a tarmac path turn left to to follow the coast path around the headland, through the Battery Gardens and along to Brixham Harbour.
Here you will be in the centre of the coastal fishing port, the original town was based further inland and even the harbour was inland of where it actually now is.
The old harbour has now been built over and occupied by the modern car park and bus station area.
Close to the Tourist Information Centre and the replica of the Golden Hind on the Strand, stands the statue of William of Orange. Erected in Victorian times the statue commemorates the landing at Brixham in 1688 of William of Orange, King William III together with his wife Mary, the daughter of the deposed King James II on his way to London to take the throne.
The Famous Round Robin Circular Tour
The Round Robin is the best way to explore South Devon, visit the quaint towns of Paignton, Dartmouth and Totnes, travel on a steam train, a river boat and a bus.
Sit back and enjoy the scenery and the Dartmouth Steam Railway and a River Boat Company will take care of the rest.
This is an on-going blog so please check back to catch up on added pieces.