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Location

The seaside town of Paignton in 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 only a short walk away from the hosts or the school. Paignton is in the middle of the large, sheltered bay 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 few places you will find palm trees growing happily in parks and gardens in the UK. 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 direct trains daily from Paignton to London Paddington (3.5 hours) and direct coach links with London Heathrow airport with National Express coaches.

Town Centre
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 and 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 are 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 award 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.

The Palace Theatre is a charming little theatre that shows a range of drama all year round, including many by Agatha Christie. Many plays are produced by dedicated local community actors. You can catch the big touring London shows at the Princess Theatrein Torquay.

Paignton has a famous old cinema, the Paignton Picture House, that is currently being restored. There is a modern 9-screen cinema on Paignton's seafront that plays the latest releases. Torbay Leisure Centre has a swimming pool and is the main sports centre for Torbay, with a new gymnasium. Also public badminton and squash courts, and a newly constructed outdoor velodrome.

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

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Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boats

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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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Paignton Harbour

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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.


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Oldway Mansion and Gardens

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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.

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Paignton Zoo and Enviromental Park

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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 Waterpark at Quaywest

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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. It has eight thrilling mat and body rides.

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Torquay

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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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Cockington

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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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South West Coast Path

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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 south west coast path can is 630 miles long and includes some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Europe.

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Brixham

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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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UNESCO Geopark

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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 took place here in September 2016.

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Dartmoor National Park

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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.

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Greenway

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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.

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Dartmoor

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Dartmoor is the national park that lies at the heart of Devon. This area of moorland is famous for its bleak, almost tree-less landscape, formed of golden gorse bushes, purple heather, rocky granite crags known as tors (the remnants of ancient volcanoes) together with wonderful wooded valleys, rivers andwaterfalls, which are great for kayaking.

There are many legends and stories that have sprung up about the moor, including tales of ghosts, goblins and bottomless mires or bogs. It is on the wild expanses of Dartmoor that Conan Doyle set his masterful novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

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Dartmouth

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Dartmouth is an attractive, historical town. Dartmouth and the River Dart were firm favourites of Queen Victoria who said the river reminded her of the River Rhine (!).

This picture-postcard town is situated at the mouth of the River Dart and has played an important role in the history of Great Britain. Crusader ships left from here for the Holy Land in 1147. It was from Dartmouth that Sir Walter Raleigh sailed to fight the Spanish Armada; and the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America from Bayard’s Cove in 1620 .

The impressive houses on Bayard’s Cove once belonged to wealthy merchants – Dartmouth became rich and prosperous by importing port and wine from Europe, selling cod caught by her ships in Newfoundland to the Catholic countries of Europe in the 1600s.

There’s a nice walk down to the castle at the mouth of the river and the town has lots of small shops catering for all your retail desires. The Royal Castle is an excellent place to have lunch and was also the setting for an Agatha Christie short story about a missing diamond, The Regatta Mystery.

The Royal Regatta itself (a celebration of boats and sailing) takes place every year in August.

It takes no more than 30 minutes to travel to Dartmouth by steam train from Paignton.

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Exeter

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Exeter is the county town of Devon. It was originally one of the furthest-west outposts of the Roman empire and known in Latin as Isca. You can still see the remains of the Roman walls today.

It is home to one of the most important examples of 13th century cathedral building in Europe. There are also lots of other things to visit: the quay and canal, the Guildhall, Rougemont Castle, an award-winning museum, St Nicholas Priory and even underground tunnels. There are many popular pubs and restaurants, in and around the centre. Exeter is great for shopping, too with lots of independent shops and as well as well stores including: John Lewis, Zara, Topshop, All Saints, Jack Wills, Apple and, of course, Primark.

The city is just a 25 minute bus-ride from the Devon School and there is a train service which stops right in the centre of the town

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Buckfastleigh

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Buckfastleigh is small town on the River Dart within the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park. It has lots of well preserved and unusual streets (called opeways) and fascinating buildings that date back to the Middle Ages. Buckfastleigh also has a steam train station, an otter sanctuary and a butterfly farm.

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Buckfast Abbey

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Buckfast Abbey was founded in 1018 as a Benedictine Monastery but destroyed in Henry VIII's dissolution of the English monasteries in 1539. Remarkably, the Abbey was rebuilt by just six devoted monks from France in the 1880s and 90s. Today, the Abbey is a popular place for visitors and it is famed for its choral acoustics and concerts and its wonderful grounds and gardens.

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Ashburton

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Ashburton is an attractive moorland town that became wealthy as a stannary town (an administrative centre for local tin mining) and is now well known as a centre for antique shopping. It has a beautiful medieval church and St Lawrence Chapel is a listed building that has regular classical and jazz concerts. Ashburton has one of the oldest surviving carnivals in Devon.

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Sharpham

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Sharpham is a village on the banks of the River Dart.

Surpisingly, for England, it is also the location of an internationally acclaimed vineyard. The wines from Sharpham are so good (and also quite expensive) that they can be found on the dining tables of the MPs at the Houses of Parliament in London.

The Devon School organises excursions to the vineyard where students can have a guided tour and then afterwards sample some of the wines and their award-wiiing cheese, Sharpham Brie.

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Kingswear

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There’s a long-standing joke that the best thing about Kingswear is the view of Dartmouth, but, joking aside, it’s worth taking a look round before continuing on the ferry over the river Dart to Dartmouth. There’s a castle at the mouth of the river and the local pub featured in the film version of John Fowle’s novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. For train enthusiasts, Kingswear is the final station on the steam train line that runs from Paignton down to the side of the river Dart.

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Plymouth

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Plymouth is a historical maritime city and the largest naval port in Europe. You can see the Barbican Steps from which the Pilgrim fathers set sail in the Mayflower and Speedwell to start a new life in America in 1621.

Another famous landmark is the Hoe – a stretch of grass overlooking the entrance to the port, home to Smeaton’s Tower, the iconic lighthouse. It was here, legend has it, that Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls when he first heard of the sighting of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Plymouth is also home to the National Marine Acquarium where in a giant tank you can see all the different types of sharks found off the coast of the UK.

A lot of the centre of Plymouth was destroyed during the war. This area, rebuilt during the 1950s, is home to all the well-known, favourite national fashion and sports shops.

It’s about a one-hour ride by bus from Paignton and the Devon School.

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Shaldon

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Shaldon is a coastal village at the mouth of the River Teign. It is connected to Teignmouth by a long, stone bridge and has a small zoo and a number of good places to eat including Cafe 0DE.

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Slapton Sands

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Despite its name Slapton Sands is a long, mainly pebbly beach, over 3 kilometres in length. Behind the beach there is a freshwater lagoon and nature reserve which is home to many fascinating species of birds.

Because the beach was similar to beaches on the Normandy coast in France, the beach was used as a practice area for the D-Day landings in 1944. There is an American WW2 tank which has been rescued from the sea in the beach car park. The preparations for the invasion saw numerous accidents with significant casualties - incidents which were covered up for many years for the purposes of morale.

On a food note, Rick Stein, the well-know Cornish and TV chef, once declared in one of his shows that the Start Bay Inn which stands on the beach made the best fish and chips in Devon.

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Burgh Island

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Burgh Island stands about 100 metres off the coast of South Devon opposite the town of Bigbury-on-Sea. You can walk across the sand to the island at low tide but the island is completely surrounded by water when the tide is in.

As far back as Phonecian and Roman times, the island was a trading post for the tin mined near here, which was important for making bronze.

Nowadays, there is an art deco hotel on the island, a hotel which once used to welcome such illustrious guests as the author Noel Coward, Winston Churchill, Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson and others. You’ll need to dig deep into your pockets if you want to stay there - rooms cost upwards of £500 per night and formal evening wear (evening dress for the ladies, dinner jacket for the men) is de rigueur.

But perhaps the main reason why the island is famous around the world is because it is the setting for the detective novels, And then there were none and Evil Under The Sun. This is because one of those other famous guests who stayed at the hotel in the 1930s was none other than the “Queen of Crime”, Agatha Christie.

Burgh Island and the South Hams is a popular trip here at the Devon School. The journey to the island takes about 1.5 hours by minibus.

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Salcombe

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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.

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Mothercombe House & Gardens

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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. Mothercombe has been used as a location in Rosamunde Pilcher and Jane Austen films. CLICK HERE for details of our 50+ programmes inspired by the settings of the films of Rosamunde Pilcher's novels.

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 www.englishrivieraimages.co.uk for selected images.

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Cornwall

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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.

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Polperro

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Polperro is a picturesque fishing village on the south-east coast of Cornwall with narrow, winding streets leading down to athe harbour.

The two main activities of the village used to be fishing for pilchards and smuggling. Smuggling became an important source of income for local people when government taxation made things such as rum, tobacco, tea, pepper and even chocolate very expensive.

Nowadays, tourism has taken over from smuggling as the main industry and the town is very popular with day-trippers. You can even grab a ride with a horse and carriage into the town from the car park.

Polperro is about an hour and a half from Paignton with our minibus.

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St Ives

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St Ives is situated on the northern coast of the tip of Cornwall. The town started out as a fishing port for the pilchard industry but its character has changed a lot since then.

It first became a destination for artists in the 1890s, the artists attracted by the quality of the light in the town. They were followed in the 30s and 40s by world-famous artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. It is still possible to visit Hepworth’s house and sculpture studio today. These artists in turn discovered Alfred Wallace, the Cornish fisherman turned naif painter, who painted on any materials that he could find to hand – boxes, pieces of cardboard, scraps of wood.

St Ives also has a Tate art museum overlooking Porthmeor beach.

The town is immensely popular with tourists and holidaymakers but still manages to retain its charm of the past. There are lots of souvenir, seaside clothes and art shops and very good pasties and fish and chips. Just one thing - beware of the seagulls!

From the Devon School it takes about 2 hours to get to St Ives.


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Tintagel

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A mystical and mythical destination on the rugged North Cornwall coast. Legend has it that the castle on the rock was home to King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table and the wizard Merlin. Even if you don’t believe the stories, it’s well worth a visit for the spectacular views from the cliffs along the Atlantic seaboard. About 2 hours from the Devon School by bus.

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St Michael's Mount

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St Michael’s Mount is an island 5 miles south of Penzance. It is home to the rugged fortress monastery of St Michael the archangel, which has its famous counterpart, Mont St Michel, off the coast of northern France.

The island stands opposite the town of Marazion. When the tide is high it is separated from the mainland, but it is possible to walk out along the 500-metre granite causeway to visit the island and the monastery at low tide. So, knowing in advance the state of the tides when you get to the Mount is very important before you set out on your journey!

It’s an hour and a half from Paignton if you’re on one of the Devon School’s excursions.

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Bath is one of the real highlights of the South-West! As the name suggests, it was the site of an important bathing complex during the period of the Roman occupation. It is still possible to visit these baths and their hot springs today.

Bath was also a very fashionable town during the Regency Period in the early 1800s. It was just before this time that the marvellous Royal Crescent was built in the Georgian style in the pale golden yellow stone that is so characteristic of the city.

The town attracted famous writers, notably Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. For the Jane fans there is a Jane Austen centre and a guided Jane Austen walk. There is also an interesting fashion museum.

The city has a special atmosphere: narrow streets, boutique shops, flower baskets everywhere, street musicians.

It is also possible to take a trip on a river boat and see some of the countryside near the town.

Bath is reachable from Paignton by train or bus. Our Devon School excursions take about 2 hours to reach their destination.