Recreational and sports amenities in Plymouth
Plymouth city council offer many venues for recreation and sports. The premier venue is probably the Plymouth Pavilions with the only ice rink in the south west and a swimming pool complete with wave machine and water flumes. It also hosts national league basketball matches and can accommodate most indoor sports in its main arena. The city council also makes provision for a range of other activities from scuba diving, sailing and snow sports to basic fitness.
Probably the best known sporting club in Plymouth is the local football team Plymouth Argyle. Never one of the elite English football teams they are currently enjoying a successful period playing in the English Championship League, one step down from the Premier League. The club name of Plymouth Argyle derives from the time that the Argyle & Sutherland Highland Regiment was stationed in Plymouth in the early 1900s. The two founders of the club, Grose & Pethybridge, had been very impressed with the way the regiment had won the Army Football cup and decided that by incorporating the ‘Argyle’ name into the club; it would bring them some good fortune. This association is further borne out by the colours Plymouth Argyle play in, black and green quarters, which are reminiscent of the black and green Argyle and Sutherland’s tartan. Plymouth Argyle are nick-named the ‘Pilgrims’, on account of the city’s association with the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth in 1620.
Whilst never having had a club in the top flight of English Rugby Union, the south west of England has a tradition of depth and character in its rugby union clubs. Plymouth Albion are the senior Rugby Union club in the city and currently play in the National League 1st division, one step down from the Premier League. The club was founded in 1875 and has its roots as a club in the apprentices of the Devonport Dockyard. The Albion play at the Brickfields Recreation Ground on Madden Street. Plymouth Argaum have the honour of being the city’s oldest Rugby union club having been founded in 1887. Their name is derived from the streets of Plymouth one of which is named after a warlike tribe of horsemen in India, the Argaum, who the Duke of Wellington fought in 1803. The club badge is, fittingly, a stalking Tiger.
The Plymouth Raiders are the basketball team that uses the Plymouth Pavilions as their home venue. The Raiders are one of the franchise teams playing in the British Basketball League, the top tier of British Basketball. The Raiders, or Greens to give them their nick-name, were established in 1983 and played in the then English National Basketball League. Their most recent successes have been winning the BBL title in 2004 and being finalists in the 2007 BBL Trophy.
Plymouth has several scuba diving schools where you can learn how to dive safely and correctly or join in with diving expeditions. Plymouth is convenient for many of the best diving sites off the British coast including; Eddystone reef, the James Eagan Layne and the Scylla – an artificial reef in Whitsand Bay – as well as the numerous wrecks in Plymouth Sound and the nearby coastal waters. If you’re interested in learning about sailing then the Mount Batten Sailing and water Sports Centre is as good a place as any to start. Here you can learn about and participate in a range of water and land based activities. Activities include; Sailing, Canoeing and Windsurfing on water or Climbing, Orienteering and Caving on land. The centre runs residential and day-visitor courses. A couple of examples of prices; a one day multi-activity session costs £35 and a two day ‘Start Sailing’ course will be about £100. Staying with the water theme, Plymouth Sound is one of the venues for the British Powerboating Grand Prix.
For the runners and joggers amongst you, Plymouth hosts an annual half-marathon which begins and ends at Elburton in the south east of the city. The route goes up to Saltram Park then comes back to cross the River Plym on the Laira Bridge, next it skirts the southern end of the city centre before starting the return leg around Smeaton Tower and over Plymouth Hoe.
Not far away on Dartmoor you can enjoy some pony trekking. There are several stables offering single days out or a week’s holiday pony trekking across the moors. Whilst on a pony trekking expedition you’d undoubtedly come across some of the Dartmoor ponies themselves. Unlike the ponies on Exmoor, these are no longer truly wild ponies, more accurately they’re untamed. Many of them will be tagged or branded with the mark of an owner. There are, of course, plenty of other activities you could participate in on Dartmoor, for example Orienteering, Climbing, Letter-Boxing or Cycling. However, please remember this is a National Park and does have some restrictions on what can be done and where, not least to be mentioned here, is that the British Army does have ‘live firing ranges’ on Dartmoor!