Plymouth: A beautiful place to study
Situated on the coast of Devon in the South West of England, Plymouth is Britain’s Ocean City. With a beautiful waterfront and harbour that includes a lovingly restored 1935 Art Deco lido, and plenty of stunning surrounding countryside and beaches, Plymouth is a thriving city that offers a wealth of inspiration from its naturally idyllic setting and vibrant culture.
Plymouth is a unique seaside city that increasingly embraces creativity from its streets to its cultural landmarks. Plymouth College of Art sits in the heart of the Cultural Quarter in the city’s centre, only a stone's throw from The Box, the £40 million rebuilt home of Plymouth’s museum and city archives with seven large-scale permanent galleries, including collections from the South West Film and Television Archive. Plymouth is also home to the biggest immersive 3D dome in Europe at the newly opened Market Hall, as well as one of the UK’s largest regional producing theatres, Theatre Royal.
Plymouth College of Art is also the location of two independent creative organisations: MIRROR and Plymouth Arts Cinema. MIRROR is our onsite art gallery that plays host to major exhibitions and artists, including British Art Show 7, with British Art Show 9 set to return to Plymouth in 2022. Plymouth Arts Cinema is the city’s only independent cinema, boasting a 118 seat auditorium with state of the art sound and cinema screen with an extensive programme of arthouse, foreign language and modern classic films.
A short walk from our Tavistock Place campus and on the doorstep of our Pre-Degree campus is the historical Barbican, Plymouth’s old port and fishmarket. Full of narrow cobbled streets, Elizabethan houses, independent shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, you can also tuck into award-winning fish and chips and visit the UK’s largest aquarium, the National Marine Aquarium.
Just round the corner is The Hoe, home to the city’s most famous landmark, the Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. With unbeatable scenic views across Plymouth Sound, it’s the perfect place to spend a sunny day, enjoying a picnic on the grass, skating on the Promenade or taking a dip in the art deco Tinside Lido.
Plymouth is surrounded by miles of natural sandy beaches, with spots for peace and quiet and fun-filled water activities, from rock pooling and swimming to surfing and paddleboarding.
Take a short ferry ride on the Cremyll Ferry over to Mount Edgcumbe which not only sits next to the Barn Pool Beach, but also boasts 7 acres of gardens, a stately House and numerous trails around the estate which you can enjoy by foot or by bike.
Closest to the city are Bovisand and Wembury, which you can access by car or by bus. Wembury is a National Trust owned beach, which is just as beautiful on a misty winter’s day as it is in the heat of summer, with lots of rockpools. Bovisand Beach is a sheltered bay of golden sand with cliffs either side, with a large expanse of flat sand when the tide is out, perfect for fun days out and games.
Only a half hour boat trip from the Barbican you can find the Cornish smuggler villages of Kingsand and Cawsand, with secluded beaches, exciting walks and friendly locals who man the pubs and cafes.
The historic Royal William Yard
For those more adventurous, you can visit Bigbury on Sea, a little further out of the city on the South Hams coast. Based on the beach is the Discovery Surf School where you can learn to surf, rent kayaks or paddle boards or simply borrow a wetsuit and take a dip.
Wild swimming has also become more popular in recent years, with Plymouth boasting lots of great locations to choose from, only a short walk from the city centre. Wade into the Firestone Bay tidal pool, a shallow pool great for beginners, which is also accessible from the historic Royal William Yard, or brave the waves on Plymouth Hoe’s east side beach, a sand-less suntrap perfect for a paddle. Check out @plymouth_swim_collective on Insta for tips on open water swimming and inspiration for places to take a dip.
Plymouth is surrounded by incredible woodlands, creeks, moors and parks, where you can experience the natural beauty of Dartmoor National Park, explore the valleys along the River Plym and wander the rooms and grounds of stately home Saltram House.
A short bus ride out of the city centre, Dartmoor National Park is a vast 368 square mile parkland with wild, open moors, deep river valleys and ancient woodlands. Home to the famously haunted Wistman’s Woods, a remote high altitude lichen covered oak forest, Dartmoor has a reputation for ethereal beauty. Walk and find natural pools and unique landscapes of tors and flatlands, find out about the history, folklore and Neolithic monuments and explore its rare and diverse wildlife including the famous Dartmoor ponies.
Graduate Nicholas White at the top of a tor in Dartmoor
The River Plym runs from Dartmoor all the way out to Plymouth Sound, with Plymbridge Woods situated a bus ride away in the suburb of Plympton. Cycle or walk the Drake’s Trail where you can see deer, ducks and a falcon if you’re lucky as well as enjoy the natural fauna and flora that decorates the area’s industrial past of canals, railway cottage ruins and viaducts.
Within a bus ride and a short walk is Saltram, a National Trust stately home and grounds where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Saltram House is full of Georgian collections and ornate interiors, nestled in an estuary complete with woodlands and open green spaces. A very accessible venue with trails for cyclists and hikers as well as mobility scooters to hire so everyone can make the most of the beautiful scenery.
Less than an hour’s drive away, the Eden Project is the world’s largest indoor rainforest, within massive biospheres huddled inside a clay pit crater just outside of St Austell. When the complex isn’t being used as a venue for the Eden Sessions, you can explore the depths of the rainforest or the Mediterranean in the biomes, learn about plants and ecosystems while visiting the 70-tonne egg art installation The Seed by Peter Randall-Page and even fly over the site on England’s longest and fastest zip wire.
We love the city of Plymouth, but there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. Immerse yourself with inspiration in a buzzing city by the sea. Book an Open Day and make a weekend of it - if you can find the time to squeeze it all in!