News from the Geopark

Korean university students visit English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark to learn about Geotourism and Devon’s outstanding geological heritage.

13 Jul 2018

Korean university students visit English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark to learn about Geotourism and Devon’s outstanding geological heritage.

Nine 2nd year Geography students from Sungshin University in Seoul, Korean, accompanied by their professor, Prof. Kyeong Park, visited the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark in July 2018 to learn about how the area uses Geotourism to create economic and social regeneration and to apply their knowledge to aspiring Geoparks and the 3 existing UNESCO Geoparks in Korea (see note 3 for details of UNESCO Global Geoparks in Korea.) 

Staying in Paignton for four days the students started their Geopark day by visiting Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves.  Here the chairman of the English Riviera Geopark, Nick Powe, owner the cavern, gave a presentation on the management and activities of Devon’s Geopark before they were taken on a guided tour of Britain’s most important ancient human cave site.


The students walked from Kents Cavern along the Bishop’s Walk to Thatcher Point, along Meadfoot beach, up to Daddyhole Plain, down past the London Bridge and to Torquay harbour, following the South West Coast Path. They then boarded the 30 minute ferry to Brixham.

After crab sandwiches and pasties around the fishing port of Brixham, the group walked around the harbour to Breakwater beach and up to Berry Head past the Berry Head Hotel.  At the Guardhouse visitor centre, Ruby Cox, the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust ranger talked about the biodiversity of Berry Head and how the geology influences the flora and fauna. They then toured the Napoleonic fortifications on headland.

A walk back down from Berry Head through the back streets of Brixham to take the No12 bus back to Paignton and visit the Paignton GeoPlay Park before returning to their hotel in Paignton.  This is a geologically themed children’s play area, that presents the geological story of the Geopark, from the Devonian, through the Carboniforous to the Permian and ending up with the Quaternary. This completely free and hugely popular facility was designed and is maintained by the local community in Paignton. 
The students had to undergo a competitive bid to secure a bursary from Sungshin University in Seoul to undertake the trip.  Their bid set out their objectives and outcomes which included gathering feedback from experts they meet in the UK, the preparation of a Geotourism Guide, to propose ways Korean Geoparks can improve their Geotourism offer and to engage with the travel trade to encourage with visitors at Korean Geoparks. 
Professor Kyeong Park from Sungshin University, Seoul, Korea said: “The students are enjoying their stay in the English Riviera and have learnt a lot from this experience.  They are able to compare what they see here to the UNESCO Geoparks in Korean at Jeju Island, Cheongsong and Mudeungsan. Understanding more about the geomorphology and the geotourism experiences in the UK is of great interest to their studies.”
2nd year Geography student Ms Sumin Im who organised the visit said: “We wanted to learn more about Geotourism in Europe and the UK in particular. In London, we visited Greenwich which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and here we interviewed Anna Duenbier, research assistant at UK National Commission for UNESCO. Also we visited London Wetland Centre for the guided tour. We visited  UNESCO’s offices in London, the London School of Economics and in Devon, we will visit Dartmoor and Torquay Museum. We have been recording our visit and will be making presentations back in Korea, applying our findings to aspiring Geoparks and the existing Geoparks at home. We have all really enjoyed being in the English Riviera.  As we walked along the footpath we came across outstanding viewpoints all the way and me met some great people. The weather was very kind to us and we will take home great memories of this beautiful part of the world.  
Nick Powe, chair of the English Riviera Global Geopark said: “We were delighted to welcome these enthusiastic and engaging Korean students and their professor to the Geopark.  The trip I led from Kents Cavern to Berry Head and back, along the South West Coast Path, using the ferry service and the buses, was an itinerary we recommend to many of our visitors looking for a Geotourism experience.  It takes in Geology, archaeology, social history, food and the cultural heritage of the area.  All of which are embodied in what makes a UNESCO Global Geopark. The weather was fantastic but this is an experience that is just as good to do in the depths of the winter of course.” 
Anna Duenbier, Administrative and Research Assistant at the UK National Commission for UNESCO said: “It was a great pleasure to meet the Korean students in London. We spoke about UNESCO in the UK and I informed them about the different UNESCO designations and programmes in the UK: World Heritage Sites, Global Geoparks, Man and Biospheres, Creative Cities etc. They are really pleased to be in the UK and were looking forward to travelling to Devon to meet the English Riviera Geopark team. Their research focuses on Geotourism and Geomarketing and they will be able to report to UNESCO in Korea on UK best practice in these areas”.