Thrilling images of animals and birds have been caught on camera on the Sharpham Estate, near Totnes, South Devon.
Foxes, a tawny owl and a hedgehog are amongst the creatures caught unawares by hidden cameras on the Estate, around the site of the Sharpham Trust’s rewilding project which began earlier this year.
The Trust was awarded £177,400 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to make more space for wildlife and take action for nature in a three-year project called Sharpham Wild for People. The grant will help in turning the Sharpham Estate organic, re-wilding parts of its historic landscape and helping more people engage with the nature there – from members of the public to students of conservation learning to use camera traps.
“These first pictures of hedgehogs are amazing because as far as we know this is the first record of them being this far into the estate for over 20 years.” said Simon Roper, from Ambios Ltd, the nature conservation & education organisation which deployed the cameras via its trainees.
“Although our rewilding project has only just begun it is so encouraging to get this image of an animal likely to benefit from our future work in restoring nature. Sharing these pictures is a step towards connecting people with nature,” he added.
The day- and night-time images show a variety of feathered and furred animals, from a Tawny Owl in a tree to a Blackcap by a pool.
There’s a fox, believed to be a nursing mum, a song thrush bathed in the sun’s rays, a crow close-up and a variety of songbirds beside a pond.
One of the happiest sights is a hedgehog, caught in a night-sight shot, snuffling in undergrowth.
“Hedgehogs have been in decline for many years,” said Jack Skuse, Director of Ambios Ltd, the nature conservation training organisation helping Sharpham Trust to deliver The National Lottery Heritage Fund project. “It was exciting to catch one on camera. This is the mating season, so perhaps this one was looking for a mate.”
The images were collected by students on an Ambios course in camera trapping. The hedgehog pictures were gathered by student whose place is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Organic conversion for Sharpham farmland
An important aspect of the project Sharpham Wild for People is the exploration of organic farming techniques such as less-intensive grazing, in order to support biodiversity.
Ambios Ltd already operates Lower Sharpham Farm, an organic farm on the Sharpham Estate, and has just signed a tenancy to take over a further 50 acres of Sharpham parkland, which will be restored to parkland and wood pasture (a habitat with trees that would have characterised Sharpham parkland at the time of its design, in 1762). An additional 137 acres of land has been leased to farmer David Camp for organic conversion.
“A key mission for Sharpham is to care for wildlife and enable people to connect with our natural world,” said Trust Director Julian Carnell.
“Because of this project, almost all the estate land will be managed organically which has proven benefits for wildlife,” he said.
The effects of Covid-19
The project was to include school visits, public events, volunteering & training opportunities this summer and autumn, in order to enable a wider range of people to engage with and understand the land’s natural heritage.
The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that these have been postponed. However, the Trust hopes to start some of these in September, and is pressing ahead with other project goals such as introducing livestock, fencing and surveying wildlife.
Due to the uncertainty around how long the current COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and/or social distancing measures will be in place, and with the risk of a second wave of the virus towards the end of the year, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Totnes pride as it stands, and instead, host an online event in its place.
This has been a difficult decision, as for us, some of the highlights of the previous events centre around people coming together in person, and celebrating and protesting together.
We are, however, extremely excited to take all that is fabulous about Totnes Pride and create an online event that reaches even more people, including those who, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to attend the event in the past.
More details to follow!
All our love and respect,
The Totnes Pride Action Group (TPAG)
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.
Having arrived and settled into your holiday cottage the night before, it’s time to start exploring!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Car(e) free Dartmoor
Visitors to south Devon, particularly those from Europe, are frequently taken aback at the lack of public transport into and around the beautiful Dartmoor National Park. Even if you’re staying in one of the so-called “gateway” towns like Ashburton or Bovey Tracey, it’s not possible to get up to the moor without hiring a taxi or walking for miles on roads before you get to proper moorland scenery. But there are ways for visitors to Totnes to enjoy Dartmoor without a car. Here’s a few of them:
From Totnes you can get the excellent Stagecoach Gold bus to Ivybridge or South Brent (runs every half hour and even hourly on a Sunday). From both of these towns the walks onto the moor are on footpaths -- and if you’re a confident walker able to read a map and compass you can walk from one to the other via some fabulous Dartmoor scenery.
Ivybridge lies on the lovely river Erme and you can follow the river upstream from the town centre through beautiful woodland, then cut across to the picturesque hamlet of Harford and onto the open moor at Harford Moor Gate. The energetic can walk from here all the way to Piles Copse, one of the three areas of ancient woodland on Dartmoor and an idyllic spot for a picnic. The Two Moors Way runs along the ridge above, and you can follow it back into town passing prehistoric stone rows and with magnificent moorland views.
In South Brent you can follow footpaths up the equally lovely river Avon valley, via Lutton and Didworthy, then walk up the bridlepath to Corringdon Ball and the Glazebrook valley where there are many prehistoric remains and great high moor scenery. Return on footpaths via Aishridge and Aish.
On Saturdays between May and September, you can take advantage of the Haytor Hoppa which drives across the moor taking in sights such as Hay Tor, Widecombe and Hound Tor. Take the train to Newton Abbot and pick the bus up there. You can hop off at one place and hop on again at another, thus enjoying a linear walk or two, and eventually returning to Newton Abbot train station. There are four buses and day and the timetable can be found here.
If you’re used to camping and carrying your own equipment, you can take advantage of the fact that Dartmoor is the only national park in the country that allows wild camping. Take a small tent and pitch it at least 100m from a road or house and the moor is your oyster (with the exception of a few areas – see link below). You can walk from Ivybridge to Okehampton or follow the Two Moors Way from Ivybridge on a more easterly route, finishing somewhere like Chagford. It goes without saying that you need a compass, a map and the ability to navigate before you venture out onto these high moorland routes! Information on wild camping can be found here. Buses can take you from Okehampton or Chagford back to Exeter and from there by train back to Totnes.
If you’re not comfortable with negotiating your own route or you’d like the benefit of a guide who can introduce you to the hidden delights and history of Dartmoor, contact Dartmoor Walks and Rides This Way. Based in Ashburton, which is served by the regular 88 bus from Totnes, I can meet you at the bus stop and take you for a half-day or full-day exploration of the moor either on foot or on an electric bike. But I’m afraid the 88 bus doesn’t run on Sundays…..
For a fun and memorable experience that you can take away with you, China Blue’s Ceramic Studio has been designed with you in mind. The largest of its kind in the South West, Paint Your Own offers a fantastic range of pottery for the whole family to decorate. Simply pop in, choose your ceramic, and get painting!
The wide range of activities that we offer include:
• Pottery painting – Simply pop in, choose your ceramic and get painting! We will then glaze your masterpiece ready for collection in person or to be sent straight to your address.
• Paint & Go – Don’t want to wait to have your finished piece? Decorate your chosen ceramic with poster paints and you can take it away with you the very same day! (Please note: these ceramics arenot food safe or waterproof).
• Hand and foot casts – Looking for a special memento of your little one? We can help you create a unique hand or foot cast to treasure forever.
• Pot throwing – If you like the idea of making something from scratch, our friendly and helpful staff offer pot throwing sessions, which are also available as a gift voucher.
• Parties and events – we can accommodate birthday parties, hen/stag do’s, school visits, creative workshops and team building events with a private studio and WiFi.
To find out more or to book an event, call us on 01803 860908 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The fun doesn’t end once you’ve finished your masterpiece. Browse China Blue’s lifestyle store for a great selection of fun and contemporary gifts from exclusive brands, including:
• Tableware and decorations
• Lights and lamps
• Vases and glassware
• Soft furnishing
• Beauty and toiletries
• Food and drink
All that creativity and shopping can be tiring, so why not take a break in China Blue’s tempting café? Delicious savouries and sweets are freshly made daily, perfect with a cup of tea or freshly brewed bespoke coffee. Relax indoors or outside in our lavish patio area, perfect for those warm summer days.
Just some of the treats available include:
• Cooked breakfasts
• Croissants, cakes and cream teas
• Jacket potatoes
• Ciabattas and sandwiches
• Soups and salads
• Pastries, quiches and pies
We also have a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options available.
For more information, call us on 01803 860906 or email email@example.com
The Rotherfold Artisan Market was created by The Kitchen Table, a small outside catering business based in Totnes and Me & East, a small shop selling crafts made by British artisans. We wanted to bring artisanal handmade gifts, home wares, food and drink to central Totnes, based in an under-used but lovely square at the top of town.
The crafts for sale will be made by hand-picked local makers and small businesses, there will be ready-to-eat food and drink as well as live music on our buskers stage.
Why We Love Totnes - by Blueriver Cottages.
One of the first things you might notice when you visit Totnes is the eclectic fashion and alternative attitude to life. Don’t be surprised to see festival dress or the occasional parrot on someone’s shoulder as you make your way to one of the many cafés and coffee shops.
Totnes is the first transition town with a global reputation for its interest in environmental and sustainability issues. Take a trip over to Dartington Hall which has a programme of wonderful courses, talks, festivals and events set in beautiful surroundings.
Staying in the town centre, a visit to the Totnes Museum will give you a rich insight in to the history of this enchanting town. Right in the middle of the hubbub is Totnes Castle which offers super views of the town and surrounding area.
Totnes prides itself on its high percentage of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Interestingly, in 2012, the town came together to protest against a large coffee chain opening locally and won. This is a town with heart and spirit.
Its narrow winding roads, hidden passages and half-timbered housing give Totnes a certain Harry Potter charm. It’s hard not to succumb to the magic of this quirky, friendly town.
The team at Blueriver Cottages are passionate about where they live. Gemma, local Property Recruiter and Quality Assessor shares what she loves about the town..
" Down the road from Dartington, this arty town has plenty to satisfy all senses from the food, to the entertainment, and the views.
TIPS FOR EATING OUT
Pie Street is a great place to visit if you are looking for great comfort foods.
Standing at the top of Totnes Castle looking out over the town.
The Totnes Elizabethan Market is unique. I also love the Christmas markets which are great to get a bargain."
You can take a look at Blueriver Cottages’ collection of holiday homes in Totnes and surrounding area by clicking here.
Be an eco-tourist - by Blueriver Cottages
At Blueriver Cottages, we strive to make the right choices for environmental sustainability. In this blog, we offer a few suggestions so that our guests and other visitors to this beautiful area can help us to protect the local environment, wildlife and economy for all to enjoy!
How to go green
At your cottage, reduce energy by switching off lights and closing windows if heating is on. Please visit energysavingtrust.org.uk for more information on what you can do to save energy at home and when on holiday.
SUPPORT THE REAL LOCAL ECONOMY
Locally made crafts and souvenirs are not always cheaper, but purchasing them ensures your contribution to the economy will have a more direct and positive impact.
Some destinations are just harder to reach, so consider renting a hybrid or hybrid vehicle. Walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around whenever possible.
SAY NO TO PLASTIC
Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill over and over again at many eateries. Refuse plastic straws.
There are monthly beach cleans to take part in but you don’t have to wait for those - spend 10 minutes before you leave the beach to do your bit.
EAT LOCALLY SOURCED FOOD
Support the region’s farmers, get a more authentic taste of the cuisine and cut your carbon footprint even more.
TAKE AN EDUCATIONAL WALK
Totnes is the world’s first Transition Town. Take part in one of their walks to find more out about the pioneering projects.
Help us to look after the beautiful landscape and wildlife of our county by not littering, guarding against fire and using footpaths and cycle-ways responsibly. Ensure you follow the Countryside Code.
You can take a look at Blueriver Cottages’ collection of holiday homes in South Devon and Torbay by clicking here.
"Trains will be running every 45 minutes with the first one leaving Buckfastleigh at 10:30 and the last one departing at 15:25, with a slightly extended break at lunchtime. In addition, it's planned to stable a static steam locomotive in the platform at Buckfastleigh where the loco's footplate will be accessible for visitors to inspect. Totnes station will remain closed however. "This compromise solution will give some level of service to valued visitors and locals whilst minimizing the disruption to the winter work programmes for the SDR's locomotive, carriage & wagon, and civil engineers. The Buckfastleigh café and shop will also be open and, subject to weather, the gardens will also be accessible and, in addition, it's hoped that the museum can be opened too." Please check the SDR website for more details at: www.southdevonrailway.co.uk and some colour photos are attached for your use of the Bubblecar courtesy of Sarah Anne Harvey.