Living in Plymouth
Come to Plymouth and you’re quickly going to notice a definite naval theme. It started as a fishing village and is now a maritime port and lively waterfront city which is home to Plymouth University.
As well as being the home city of Sir Francis Drake, who defeated that Spanish Armada you learned all about in primary school (he was born just down the road in Tavistock), there’s still a huge naval base in Plymouth. You’ll see sailors on leave come into the city from time to time. You may also see some bizarre weather. Plymouth is famous for having a weird little micro-climate. It can be sunny on one side of the city and raining on the other, so best pack your brolly and your sunglasses, just to be on the safe side.
With such a big student population at the Plymouth University, there's easily enough nightlife to keep you happy, mainly located around Union Street and Northill, but what really sets it apart from more landlocked places is its cushy little spot on the south-west coast of England. If you’ve ever fancied trying out a water sport, now is the time to go for it because the ocean is literally right on your doorstep. Sailing, scuba diving, surfing and canoeing are all easily accessible from Plymouth.
Of course this hard-core sporting lifestyle also includes sun-bathing and sandcastle building. There’s some good beaches a mere stone’s throw from Plymouth itself. Bovisand Beach is a lovely sandy one only twenty minutes away by car or bus, or if you were feeling really adventurous you could take the water taxi! If you’re not quite so fussy about the quality of your sand, or like poking around in rock pools then Batten Beach is a little gravellier, but also a little closer.
If you want to go in another direction you could take the chain ferry across the river Tamar to Torpoint, where there’s woodlands or a sports ground, or you could head out north to Dartmoor National Park. It’s a huge space, and you can make your visit as active or as lazy as you like. Cycle or hike on the moors, or just chill out in a coffee house and take in the unique scenery. There’s usually guided walks and other events on, so it’s worth checking out their website for some handy advice.
One of the biggest selling points of Plymouth is simply how close it is to Cornwall, one of the UK’s top holiday destinations. Taking the ferry across to Cawsand Bay and the nearby Kingsand beaches makes a great daytrip, or you could even turn your visit into a long when you just have to get away from all that exam stress… or treat yourself once it’s over.
If your course is a bit too hectic for regular daytrips, don’t worry because there are some attractions closer to home. In the Sutton Harbour area you’ll find the National Marine Aquarium, the UK’s biggest, where you can see some more tropical examples of sealife than you’d find down at the beach. Most of the restaurants are located round here, as well as the Mayflower Steps in the historic Barbican area, from which some of the first settlers in American left the country in conditions which will make your student halls look positively luxurious. There’s also the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which does tours! What’s not to love about that?
Food and Drink:
- West Hoe Fish Fryers: There’s usually a queue for this chippie, but that’s usually a good sign!
- Hakka: Cantonese food with a seaside twist. Get your Catch of the Day with spring rolls on the side.
- Rock Salt: A classy little café with a great atmosphere. One to visit with the parents.
- Taxi: Tower Cabs.
- Bus: To Bovisand Beach. There’s a special Target Travel bus in the summer, but the bus to Wembury runs all year round and will drop you off a short walk away. Get off at Down Thomas, the nearest village to the beach, and follow Bovisand Lane.