No-one was more surprised than me when we booked up to go away at Easter for a weekend in Paignton. It wasn’t on our travel plans for 2019. Firstly, going away for Easter wasn’t even on the cards; we hadn’t even talked about it. Secondly, we haven’t been to Paignton in 11 years. The husband used to holiday there as a kid, and we went a couple of times early on in our relationship, but the economy took its toll on the English seaside town, like many others across the country, and we heard reports of closed pubs, boarded up frontages and a general feeling of rundown-ness which didn’t appeal.
So, what changed? We’d heard that the town had received investment and was in better shape. But what really swung it was watching Channel 4’s “Four in a Bed” programme, and talking fondly of staying in a UK guesthouse by the seaside. Fuelled by a couple of glasses of wine (as the best plans always are) our weekend in Paignton was booked!
What did we get up to?
We had loose plans of what we wanted to do over the course of our 3 night break (woo-hoo for a long weekend at Easter), but of course we knew we’d be held to ransom by the British weather. We needn’t have worried though. Like much of the UK, Paignton was bathed in wall to wall sunshine with higher than average temperatures, which meant we spent pretty much all of our time outside.
Out and about
We walked along the coast from Paignton and up to Roundham Gardens looking down on Goodrington Sands. You wouldn’t think that some of these views were in the UK, especially not in April!
We caught the Dartmouth Steam Railway train from Paignton to Kingswear, and then got the ferry across to Dartmouth.
Then we walked along the riverfront to Bayard’s Cove, before heading to the Above Town area and walking past coloured houses and through woods down to Dartmouth Castle.
There isn’t an awful lot to see at the castle, but there are some educational exhibitions and hands on things for kids like helmets to try (which, FYI, also fit adult heads too – I speak from experience), plus the views back down the river to Kingswear and Dartmouth were stunning. We got 20% off the entrance price with our steam railway ticket, so we only paid £6.60 each. It’s free if you’re a member of English Heritage, which we keep saying we’re going to join but never get round to, although I think it’s only a matter of time!
Then, on Sunday, we went to Paignton Zoo! It’s quite a hilly zoo, so probably not great for people with mobility issues. We saw lions, monkeys, giraffes, the elephant, zebras, ostriches and camels. The tigers weren’t out to play, which was a shame but we were super chuffed to see everything else. There are peacocks wandering freely around the paths too.
Have to be honest, I always overlook going away in the UK in favour of going overseas – mainly because of the weather situation! Let’s face it, our weekend in Paignton would have been very different if it had been raining; which there’s always a chance of during British summertime. That said, I’m so keen to see more of the South West. I’d happily do another weekend in Paignton. There’s so much to do in the area, including the other 2 English Riviera towns of Torquay and Brixham. I’m keen to explore some of Cornwall too.
Do you love visiting the UK? Any tips for where else I should put on my list?
Thanks, as always, for reading. x