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 small, 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 hosts or the school. Paignton forms part of Torbay, or the English Riviera. Thanks to the effect of the gulf stream, it has a lovely climate with warmer winters than most parts of the UK - we are one of the only few places you will find palm trees growing happily 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).

We have great transport connections - with a railway station (with direct trains daily to London Paddington taking 3.5 hours) and direct coach links with London Heathrow airport with National Express coaches.

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 hosts with usual local 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.

Eating out / Nightlife

Paignton has nice pubs and restaurants to entertain you, some right next to the beach. In terms of pubs and bars the Spinning Wheel with live music is always one of the most popular places for students to go, whilst the Boathouse and Shoreline are great for a drink or meal looking out across the sea. There lots of places to try across the town. In terms of restaurants there are some great chances to try the multicultural cuisine England is famous for - we have great Thai restaurants and an Indian restaurant considered the best in the South West. Everyone is friendly and will be very pleased to see you. The magical Church House Inn in the nearby village of Marldon won Devon Dining pub of the year and is only a short taxi ride away.

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 are very shallow 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 restaurant looks directly out onto the sea.

Preston beach is on the Torquay side of Paignton. Lined with its classic beachhuts it is a favourite amongst 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. This is another beach popular with locals.

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

To read more about the Top 10 Things you can do in Paignton CLICK HERE.

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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 itself.

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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 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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Splashdown - Quaywest

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.

Paignton Harbour

Just a short walk along the beach, this is a small working harbour with a thriving crabmeat business. there are some nice pubs and restaurants overlooking the boats for you to try- in particular TJ's. You can book a range of fishing and sightseeing boat trips from here directly from the kiosks on the harbourside.

Oldway Mansion and 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 charged. 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.


Paignton is perfectly placed for exploring the beautiful South West Coast path - the path runs along the beach at Paignton and on through unspoilt countryside to the port of Brixham. There are lots of great opportunities to explore dramatic coast and woodland.


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. Lovely historic village with traditional thatched cottages and landscaped gardens and lakes. There is a beautiful little historic church net to the Manor House - Cockington Court - home to a café and craft workshops you can visit.

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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 short distance from the harbour, as is the Model Village - both major attractions.

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Brixham is small 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. Brixham is home to a range of fish restaurants for you to choose from. 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 countries 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 centries, have inspired writers, artists and film makers.

Here are some highlights below:


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 artist 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.

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.


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.

Rosamunde Pilcher and her stories

Rosamunde Pilcher was born in Lelant near St Ives in Cornwall, and her stories are largely set in Cornwall and the surrounding area. Many television films of her books are filmed in Devon and Cornwall.

CLICK HERE for details of our 50+ programmes inspired by the settings of the films of Rosamunde Pilcher's novels.

We take you there - Excursions and activities

We organize half day and full day guided trips to all places of interest in the South West, from Land's End I Cornwall to Bath in the East, as well as afternoon trips to Exeter, Plymouth, Dartmoor and Totnes.

With thanks to for selected images.