Set in the heart of South Devon, between the wilds of Dartmoor and the sparkling waters of Start Bay, lies the bohemian market town of Totnes.

Easily accessible by train in under three hours from London, and with no need for a car while you’re there, Totnes is the perfect spot for a weekend break spent exploring the town’s independent shops and restaurants, fascinating markets and vibrant culture and music scene.

What’s more, a self-catering holiday property in Totnes with Toad Hall Cottages gives you the freedom to discover the town at your own pace, and after a long day exploring, you can relax and unwind in your very own home from home.


Day one
Having arrived and settled into your holiday cottage the night before, it’s time to start exploring!

Retail Therapy
Shops and markets flourish in Totnes, which flies the flag for Fairtrade and ethical retail. You can easily lose a contented morning browsing the unique gift shops and galleries that line the steep high street, or exploring the regular Friday and Saturday markets in Civic Square for unusual gifts.

Café Scene
Having worked up an appetite you’ll be spoilt for choice for lunching spots in Totnes from its chic restaurants and bistros to its vibrant cafés and delicatessens, this really is a foodie’s heaven. Choose from authentic Italian at The Curator Café & Kitchen, inventive vegetarian dishes at Willow or Seeds 2, or a leisurely lunch overlooking the river at Waterside Bistro as well as many more fantastic independent cafés and eateries.

The High Street

Ghost Cats, Castles & Cromwell
A good place to start discovering the rich and colourful heritage of Totnes is at the Totnes Museum on Fore Street. Here you can take a tour around a medieval kitchen and climb the iconic spiral staircase carved from a ship’s mast. The museum is also said to be home to a feline ghost with visitors regularly reporting to have felt the tail of an invisible cat against their legs while viewing the exhibits here!

From the museum, head to the nearby Grade I listed 16th-century guildhall on Ramparts Walk, one of Totnes’ most historic buildings. Home of the town council for over 450 years, this Tudor building still houses the table where Oliver Cromwell sat in 1646 during the final throes of the English Civil War.
And what better way to end your afternoon of discovery than a visit to Totnes Castle.

Standing strategically at the top of town, with far-reaching views across the town and beautiful Dart Valley, Totnes Castle is an immaculately preserved example of a Norman motte-and-bailey fortress and well worth a visit.

Live Music
If you still have some energy left after your busy day exploring, Totnes has a thriving and varied live music scene. So if you’re partial to a live gig head out in the evening to The Barrel House, The Bay Horse Inn or The Dartmouth Inn which all hold regular music nights to suit all tastes.


Day two

Pygmy Goats, Eagle Owls and Steam Trains
After a lazy Sunday morning breakfast at your holiday property, head to Totnes Rare Breeds Farm; a family-owned attraction dedicated to the preservation of endangered farm animals. A very hands-on attraction, here you can cuddle a guinea pig, feed the goats or smooth the feathers of a huge eagle owl, and lots more!

Close by you’ll find the South Devon Steam Railway, where you can hop on a vintage steam train and take a trip along the beautiful River Dart valley.

Sunday Lunch – Decisions, Decisions
Back in town there are serious decisions to be made – which pub to choose for Sunday Lunch when there are so many great free houses to discover. The answer is they’re all pretty good but some favourites include The Steam Packet Inn with its riverside beer garden and the highly acclaimed gastro pub The Bull Inn, or why not break from tradition at Pie Street .

And then when you thought you’d made up your mind someone mentions the Totnes Good Food Sunday Market! Devon’s largest fine food farmers market held on the 3rd Sunday of each month. Here you can sample and buy a wide range of quality produce from local producers or grab a take away from one of the street food vendors to eat al fresco in the sunshine.

Boats at the edge of the pier

Messing about on the River
If working off lunch out on the water sounds like fun then Totnes is certainly the place.

Canoe Adventures offers adventure-filled experiences on the River Dart for all ages and abilities. But if that all sounds like too much effort, why not hop aboard the Totnes to Dartmouth river cruiser, and savour some of the region’s most enchanting waterways.

And just like that the weekend is all but over, but the beauty of Totnes is that there are always new things to discover, so on your journey home, you could spend the time planning your next visit to this unique and fascinating town.


Where to stay
Couples will love Riverside Loft, a romantic waterside apartment overlooking Vire Island and the River Dart. Wake up to views of Totnes’ Castle from 10 Castle Street tucked beneath the ancient castle walls or as a complete contrast take a look at The Sidings an ultra-modern eco-house in the centre of town. Or for dog owners, 2 North Castle Mews is a colourful and contemporary dog-friendly townhouse, just moments from Totnes’ high street

For further information on holiday properties in Totnes and beyond visit
www.toadhallcottages.co.uk or call 01548 202020

You may be interested in...

A new fish finger takeaway in town

Cormack's Seafood recently launched a takeaway lunch menu from our fish shop. We sell a range of four sandwiches, featuring our handmade products. On offer at the moment is:

Classic Fish Finger Sandwich  £8
shoestring fries, tartar sauce, iceberg

Nashville Hot Fish Finger Sandwich £8
fish fingers, hot chilli dust, pickles, Cajun mayo

Plaice Katsu Curry Sandwich £9
Curry mayo, pickles, cabbage

Brixham Crab & Avocado Sandwich £10
Coconut, lime and chilli mayo, smashed avocado, crispy fried onions

Our fish fingers are made using line caught pollack from Devon and are battered in panko breadcrumbs, dill and spices. Our katsu fillets are inspired by Aarik’s (owner and chef) time working in South-East Asia and are made with plaice landed in Brixham.

fish finger

The takeaway is available every day from noon Tuesday to Saturday. We are located on Ticklemore Street in Totnes. 

New retreat venue at Sharpham

Charity invests £1.6million in a new retreat venue at Sharpham

The Sharpham Trust is investing £1.6 million to convert a stable yard behind Sharpham House to a new centre for mindfulness courses and retreats.

The charity, which works to connect people to nature and themselves, has begun the creation of The Coach House - which will feature a new meditation space and 18 en-suite rooms.

The current, disused stableyard is a Grade II-listed building, dating back to 1760 when Sharpham House was built for the naval sea captain Philemon Pownoll.

Now work has begun to develop the single-storey quadrangle directly behind Sharpham House into a new retreat centre where participants can stay, amid historic grounds thought to have been landscaped by Capability Brown.

The Trust runs an annual programme of courses and retreats featuring mindfulness meditation and nature connection on the wider Sharpham Estate and on the adjacent River Dart.

“Prior to the pandemic we were finding that our programme was fully booked with long waiting lists,” said Trust Director Julian Carnell.

“As a charity we want to help as many people as possible and so creating more accommodation became a priority. The stable yard had become rundown and so there was a fantastic opportunity to give the building a new lease of life and restore it as part of the Sharpham Estate’s important heritage,” he said.

The Coach House behind Sharpham House INSIDE April 2021 LO RES
The Coach House

Retreats in The Coach House

The Coach House will join the Trust’s other retreat venues Sharpham House, The Barn Retreat and Woodland Campsite and it will offer a weekly programme for those in need of developing and deepening their mindfulness practice, compassion and their connection to nature.

Participants staying there will be able to spend a week living in community surrounded by the amazing natural environment of the Sharpham Estate.

They will spend time volunteering in the 18th century Walled Garden – helping to grow food for the retreats at Sharpham – and conserving the heritage and wildlife of the wider estate.

Helping 1,000 more people a year

Chairman of Sharpham’s Trustees Daniel Stokes said: “Our mission is to connect people to nature and foster mindfulness and wellbeing. There is now a plethora of research showing the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

“This project will enable us to help another 1,000 people a year, giving them a chance to spend time slowing down and reflecting in a beautiful natural setting,” he said.

Using local construction companies

The Trust is using South Devon firm Carpenter Oak to build the frame for an eye-catching glass structure linked to The Coach House which will be the new centre’s meditation and dining space.

Classic Builders, a local South West-based construction company, has been awarded the contract to convert the Coach House and hopes to complete the works by January 2022.

“We are delighted to be working with The Sharpham Trust on this significant local project. The Coach House is an important listed building, not only in a sensitive location but also next to Sharpham House. We’re looking forward to drawing on our years of experience delivering comparable works in similar settings to make this project a success,” said Adam Brimacombe, Director at Classic Builders.

The Trust has been busy over the last ten years developing its charitable programmes and refurbishing the heritage of its listed landscape and properties. Every year, some 2,000 people attend retreats, courses and events on the Sharpham Estate.

See our events here: www.sharphamtrust.org/Calendar  

Totnes: your insider guide

Set halfway between moor and sea on the beautiful River Dart, the thriving town of Totnes is a South Devon gem. From spotting wildlife and having fun on the water to discovering hidden histories and enjoying the best local food, if you're looking for things to do and see in Devon, you'll find something for everyone with our insider guide to Totnes.

Aerial shot credit to Artur Niedzwied 2
Photo: Artur Niedzwied

Eat and Drink in Totnes

Are you looking for the best Devon food and drink? The rolling hills around Totnes provide a bountiful harvest and you’ll find a choice of cafes and restaurants making the most of the local, seasonal produce. Cool off with a home-made gelato, grab a vegan baked beetroot falafel with hummus, refuel after a walk with a cardamom bun and coffee, or sit by the water’s edge with pizza and Moules Mariniere.

waterside LR
Enjoy al fresco dining

Discover Devon's historic Totnes

Meander along the streets to admire the town’s historic buildings in the shadow of the town’s majestic Norman motte and bailey castle. The medieval Dartington Hall and Gardens is a pleasant walk from the town centre. Totnes Museum is a treasure trove that's not to be missed.

dart valley trail
Dart Valley Trail

Experience nature close up on holiday in Devon

Feeling adventurous? Hire a kayak or stand-up paddle board or join a guided canoe tour to spot local wildlife along the river.  If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, enjoy the choice of riverside walks to Dartington and Sharpham. Walks start and finish in the town.

24
Fun on the River Dart

Shop

If you like to shop, you’ll love the treasures on offer in the independent stores lining Totnes’ thriving high street. There’s a strong emphasis on local and handmade goods, with everything from fashion to fudge ready to tempt you. On Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year, the market square buzzes with over 50 stalls. These sell an eclectic mix of vintage collectibles, food, and crafts.

Getting here

Totnes is a 25-minute drive from Torquay and a 40-minute drive from Plymouth.  You’ll find a number of public EV charging points, including one at Morrisons supermarket, Coronation Road. The Gold Bus runs every 30 minutes and takes 50 minutes from The Strand, Torquay and 1 hour from Plymouth. Totnes is a 30-minute train journey from both Plymouth and Torquay.

If you’d like to arrive in style, The Dartmouth Steam and River Company operate boat trips to Totnes departing from Dartmouth and or hop aboard a vintage train from Buckfastleigh with the South Devon Railway.

steam train
Steam Train beside the River Dart

Top 4 wild swimming spots in and around Totnes

Looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing dip in the River Dart or off the South Devon coast? Dive on in to discover our top 4 picks of the best places to go wild swimming in and around Totnes.

1) Just above the weir in Totnes

River dart above the weir low
Swim in the River Dart above the weir at Totnes

Location: On the Access for All path between Totnes and Dartington

Getting there: It’s a short 5-minute walk from Totnes Station or 10-15-minutes walk from the centre of town.

What to expect: Popular with local swimmers, the River Dart pools reasonably deeply at this spot just above the weir. You may be joined on your swim by Mandarin ducks, which live all along this stretch of the river. Also keep your eyes peeled for kingfishers because these are regularly spotted here.  You’ll find a handy platform on the bank at this wild swimming spot in Totnes to make it easier to get in or out. This also makes it a popular location for launching kayaks and SUPs. Because it’s above the weir, you don’t need to worry about tidal currents. However, the river can flow quickly at times so check local conditions before you get in.

Treat yourself afterwards: Head back into town for a wide choice of cafes including The Edgy Veggie , Wild Thyme and Waterside Bistro

2) Dartington ‘Beach’

Dartington beach low 1
Swimming in the river at 'Dartington Beach'

Location: Dartington Estate. Head down the concrete path (at the point where the road splits towards Aller Park and the Deer Park.)

Getting there: Dartington is a 2 mile walk or 7 minute drive from Totnes and there’s plenty of parking at Dartington Hall.

What to expect: There are lots of spots along the riverbank on the Dartington Estate where you can take a dip. The largest entry point is locally known as Dartington ‘Beach’ because of the gently shelving bank of shingle/sand. Dynamic Adventures launch their kayak trips from here and it’s a favourite spot to play and swim for families. With a beautiful meadow behind you and the South Devon Railway steam train track on the other side of the track, it’s a great spot for a picnic too.

Post-swim coffee: Grab a flat white and cardamom bun at The Green Table at Dartington for a post-swim pick me up.

3) Elberry Cove, Torbay

Elberry Cove

Location: Near Churston, Torbay

Getting there: Around a 20 minute drive + 10 minutes walk from either Churston village or Broadsands Beach car park.

What to expect: With the sun shining you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Greece. Swim in the crystal clear waters from this gently shelving pebble beach.

4) South Milton Sands, Thurlestone

SouthMiltonSands low
South Milton Sands

Getting there: Approx 40-minute drive from Totnes with a small National Trust Car Park at the beach. Please be aware the beach is accessed via a narrow lane.

What to expect: Swim out to the iconic arch – the Thurlestone - which gives the neighbouring village its name.  Back on the beach, relax and soak up the view towards Burgh Island.  This dog-friendly beach is also perfect for the bucket and spade brigade thanks to the sand and fine shingle. Rockpools are exposed at low tide and it’s a popular beach for paddle boarders and kayakers too.

Stay on to watch the sunset: Grab a post swim pizza at Rockbox (during August) or get a drink and a bite at the South Milton Sands Café.

Enjoying the water safely

Remember: If you’re planning a dip in the River Dart or sea, always follow the guidance of the RNLI. Choose your spot carefully and always check the weather and tides. For more safety advice go to: https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/open-water-swimming


Getting to Totnes

Train or bus: Totnes is a 30-minute train journey from Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay. The Gold Bus runs every 30 minutes and takes 50 minutes from The Strand, Torquay and 1 hour from Plymouth.

Driving: Totnes is a 40-minute drive from Plymouth and 50-minutes from Exeter.  You’ll find a number of public EV charging points in the town.

If you’d like to arrive in style, The Dartmouth Steam and River Company operates boat trips to Totnes departing from Dartmouth and or hop aboard a steam train from Buckfastleigh with the South Devon Railway.

Find out more.

Make more than a day of it

Enjoy a sunrise or sunset swim when you stay a night or more. Check out our top picks of places to stay in Totnes

For more inspiration on what to do and what’s on or to book activities and plan your day, check out www.visittotnes.co.uk or follow @visittotnes on Instagram and Facebook

Getting to The Totnes Festival

With a packed programme of over 70 music, dance, art, and performance events, there's lots to see and do at the Totnes Festival this August. But how are you going to get here? Check out our guide, which tells you all you need to know about travelling sustainably by bus and train as well as parking in Totnes.

Sustainable Travel to The Totnes Festival

Making sustainable travel choices for the Totnes Festival is simple. Totnes is a 30-minute train journey from Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay. The Gold Bus runs every 30 minutes and takes 50 minutes from The Strand, Torquay and 1 hour from Plymouth.

When you arrive at the station, all the events are within walking distance in or around the town. The local Bob the Bus town connection service makes getting to the venues even more convenient.  

For detailed bus timetables from Totnes check out this South Hams bus service timetable https://www.devonbustimetables.info/south_hams_new/

For detailed train times check the following websites

www.gwr.com

www.nationalrail.co.uk

www.thetrainline.com

No Need to Rush Away

Relax and enjoy yourselves without the worry of having to drive home. The last trains back to Exeter and Plymouth leave after midnight on weekdays so there is no need to rush away.  We've summarised the times of the last trains and buses below. For the latest service details and changes, always check the links above before travelling.

travel timetable
travel timetable

Totnes Festival Park and Ride

Throughout the Totnes Festival, Bob the Bus is providing a Park and Ride service between KEVICC upper school main car park and the town centre. Please note that the Monday-Friday service is different to weekend timings and will be incorporated into the scheduled B1 and B2 services.

Weekdays, Monday 15 to Friday 19 August, and Monday 22 to Wednesday 24 August.
Buses depart KEVICC at the following times:
0955; 1008; 1038
1055; 1108; 1138
1155; 1208; 1238
1355; 1408; 1438
1455; 1508; 1538
1555; 1608

You can hail Bob anywhere on the route!  Return buses all travel up Fore Street and High Street, departing the Market Square at:
1000; 1030; 1045
1100; 1130; 1145
1200; 1230
1345; 1400; 1430
1445; 1500; 1530
1545; 1600

Weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August
Buses run every 15 minutes, starting at 1000 from KEVICC.  Last return bus from town is at 1550 from Seven Stars.

Car parking is free at KEVICC.

Bus fare:

Adults 50p each way

Children 30p each way

Card payments and passes accepted

Additional shuttle bus from Totnes Market Square to Dartington Hall (via KEVICC) for Globe
Theatre performances:
Tuesday 23rd August: depart Market Square 1845, return approx. 2230.
Wednesday 24th August: depart Market Square 1315, return approx. 1700.
Wednesday 24th August: depart Market Square 1845, return approx. 2230.
These services will be offered on an on-bus donation basis.

Parking in Totnes

If you're arriving by car, find out where to park in Totnes here.

EV charging in Totnes

You’ll find a number of public EV charging points in Totnes. Click here for a map.

A UK first in Totnes

Totnes has always attracted forward-thinking businesses with social responsibility at the core. Earth.Food.Love is the UK’s only, family-run, organic, bulk-buy, zero waste shop! Focusing on creating a better future, they decided to look back to the past, where eating real food with minimal packaging was normal practice. They believe returning to these simple ways will benefit not only our own health, but the planets too. The shop stocks a wide range of products such as grains, cereals, beans, legumes, flours, sugars, herbs, spices, loose leaf teas, nut butters, syrups, oils, vinegars, cleaning products and personal care products. Everything is self served and priced by weight, eliminating the toxic and wasteful packaging. Just take along any bottle, jar, tub or container; if it can be weighed, it can be used. Earth.Food.Love is located at 101 High St, to find out further information check out their website thezerowasteshop. You can keep up to date by by liking their The Zero Waste Shop Facebook page.

Famous Tunesmiths from Totnes

The street performers of Totnes are as much a part of the town's character as its castle, shops, and quay, and while musical tastes may differ there's no denying that a few Totnesian troubadors have gone on to greater things. Below are two popular musicians you may have heard of but may not have known hail from Totnes, and one to watch out for.

Joe from Metronomy

Electronic music group Metronomy was formed by Joseph Mount in Totnes in 1999. In addition to being the lead singer, and playing keyboard and guitar, Joe releases remixes of songs by the likes of Gorillaz and Lady Gaga under the Metronomy name. In 2016 Metronomy released their latest album Summer 08 though it was 2014's Love Letters that delivered their highest chart position at number 7. If the name of Metronomy's first album Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) seems familiar it was inspired by the message painted onto old cars parked around town.

Ben Howard

Although not born in Totnes, Ben's musical career did start here - one of his first musical gigs was in the Seven Stars Hotel. Since then Ben has released two critically acclaimed albums, Every Kingdom and I Forgot Where We Were. In addition to his musical achievements which include two BRIT awards and a number one album, Ben also has the honour of appearing on the Totnes £10 note. Ben's clearly never forgotten his roots and Ben Howard Keep Your Head Up Video   for 2011's 'Keep Your Head Up' was filmed at Dartington.

Ryan Keen

Busy working on his second album and one to watch out for Ryan Keen was a guitarist and songwriter for other musicians before starting his own career in 2009. You can find Ryan on Ryan Keen Twitter  or listen to Ryan Keen's latest song 'Guidance' here. With a thriving local music scene in Totnes and the South Hams the next big thing could be attending an open mic night near you, or even busking on the streets. So keep your eyes out and your ears open when you're walking down the high street.
Skip to content