You don’t need to belong to Mensa to work out where Broadsands gets its name from. It’s the last major Paignton beach before reaching Brixham (which doesn’t have any major beaches incidentally), and is another safe place for toddlers to paddle in. Unlike the beaches nearer to the town centre, there are very few amenities, and that’s the reason why some people enjoy coming here.
Abbey Park lies in front of the Riviera Centre and has some low-key sporting facilities such as tennis and crazy golf if you like that sort of thing, but the gardens, with their sub-tropical plants and water features are what I like, and in particular, the Italian Garden which is a riot of colour during the summer (see featured image at top of page).
If you’re not in any rush to get the sand between your toes, you might also want to check out the One World Café and Bistro which is the ideal place for doing absolutely nothing for an hour or so.
Not only does a visit offer an insight into how Torquay developed from the time Torre Abbey was founded in 1196, you can also impress your friends by telling them it was occupied by the Canons of the Premonstratensian order. These wealthy landlords were responsible for adding the ‘quay’ to Torre, and were here for over 300 years until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
Devon has a long history of cider making, and although there are no large commercial businesses down here these days, there are still a fair number of smaller producers dotted about – including Paignton. Hunts, of Higher Yalberton Farm is a good example, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to have a look around and see how their cider is made.
The Round Robin includes a steam train from Paignton to Kingswear, a ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth, a boat trip up the river to Totnes, and an open-top bus back to Paignton. It can be done the other way round and you can start from Paignton, Dartmouth or Totnes.
Part of the attraction is to be able to explore the towns of Dartmouth and Totnes and so you would need to factor in the tide times of the Dart if you intend to do the whole journey in one day.
For expediency, in this post, I’m just going to describe the train journey between Paignton and Kingswear.
It has to be said that there’s not much for the ardent historian to seek out here because Goodrington primarily attracts families who just want to enjoy the beach, park and water flumes. That said, it also manages to juggle the appeal of family fun with some important conservation as well.
As I pointed out in Old Paignton, this used to be a wet, marshy area, and it’s not difficult to see why it was looked upon in years gone by as an area that needed to be tamed, but these days we treat nature with a bit more respect (sometimes) and work with nature rather than against it.
This enjoyable, easy stroll between the harbour and Goodrington offers fine views from the wide-open public space of Roundham Head, and can be done in either direction, but for this blog I’m starting from Paignton.
The harbour lies at the southern end of Paignton Seafront and can be reached by walking under an archway that was made to allow access from the Esplanade to the harbour. The building was originally a fish cellar, but is now a pub/restaurant.
The fact that the harbour was enclosed until the archway opened it up may have something to do with why it has often been overlooked by visitors, but it also has to be said that it doesn’t have the same magnetic appeal as the harbours of Torquay or Brixham.
Preston sits between Old Paignton and the boundary with Torquay at Hollicombe, and over the years has expanded up the hill inland, but from a visitor’s perspective the main points of interest are the beach, known as Preston Sands, and Oldway Mansion.
At low tide Preston Sands are a continuation of Paignton Beach, but is generally regarded as the shoreline between the Redcliffe Hotel and Hollicombe Head. It’s a safe beach ideal for sunbathing and swimming, as well as rock-pooling at Hollicombe Head.
In those days, the area just inland from the beach was backed by sand dunes and marshland, which meant that the settlement grew up slightly inland where the land was drier.
The origins of Old Paignton village are located around Palace Avenue, Church St, and Winner St, the names of which give a clue as to what was here. Winner Street gets its name from Wynerde, (or vineyard), and reflects its association with the palace’s trade in wine.
The sunny, south facing beach has sand that’s perfect for making sandcastles, and its Blue Flag status makes the sea perfectly safe for even the tiniest of tots to paddle and swim in.
If the youngsters get tired of playing on the beach, then there’s always the 780 ft long Pier to wander along. It first opened in 1879 and was initially used as a place for music and dancing, but those days have long gone, and instead there are now traditional slot machines, the latest video games, and a children’s play park with ‘rides and slides’ including a helter skelter. Since the 1980s the pier has been constantly upgraded and is as popular as ever.