First time visitors to the UK are inevitably drawn to London, followed by the other usual hotspots such as Oxford, Salisbury and Edinburgh, but I doubt very much that many make it down to Torbay in Devon.
I doubt that they make it here on their second or third trip either, but that’s a great shame because the area has a great deal to offer.
Torbay is situated on the coast between Exeter and Plymouth in the county of Devon, and comprises of three separate towns – Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.
Together they have a combined population of around 140,000 but each town has its own individual identity.
The bay, as far as its geographical location is concerned, stretches from Hope’s Nose in Torquay to Berry Head at Brixham, and its sheltered location has given it the nickname of the English Riviera.
Torquay has earned the reputation of being ‘Queen of the Riviera’ while Paignton is a traditional seaside holiday resort, and Brixham is one of the largest fishing ports in England.
Torbay became a favourite destination for British holidaymakers when Isambard Kingdom Brunel extended his railway line to Paignton in the mid 19th century. It still runs today, and as you might have guessed, is called ‘The Riviera Line’.
The area has attracted people for all sorts of reasons, from its mild climate and fascinating coastline to the lovely surrounding countryside and picturesque towns and villages.
It has been awarded Geopark status by UNESCO, as well as being the birthplace and home of the great crime writer Agatha Christie, and the location of Fawlty Towers.
Torbay may not have the obvious historical landmarks such as Stonehenge, Windsor Castle or York Minster, but there’s something here for everybody.
You can walk the coast path, go to a nightclub, visit places like Cockington, Kents Cavern and Torre Abbey, or just lie on a beach. The choice is yours, and if that isn’t enough you can go a bit further afield to places like Totnes (which is twinned with Narnia), Exeter or Dartmoor.
Torbay is just one small part of Devon, and so you can use it as a base to visit other parts of the county as well as being able to venture over the border into Cornwall.
From London Paddington you can catch one of the frequent trains to Penzance and change at Newton Abbot for the Riviera Line, or alternatively, there are a few trains than run directly to Paignton. Either way, the journey will take you between Exeter and Newton Abbot which is one of the most scenic stretches of railway line in the country and a great way to arrive in this delightful part of England.