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…..
To say that we’re raring to go is an understatement! Like everyone at the moment, we’re poised and ready to go just as soon as the government says we can: shiny clean SUPS, canoes and kayaks ready for hire; river sparkling; safety measures in place; and instructors shaven and shorn (OK, maybe not the last bit). We’re hoping to open up on March 29th and are taking bookings from now.
If you’re itching to get out onto the river after walking its banks for these long winter months, you’ll be pleased to know that the wait is over. Whether pootling off or powering away, wobbling or gliding on the SUP, you’re welcome to hire the boats and paddleboards, no experience necessary. A gorgeous family-friendly stretch of the Dart with enough space to feel like you have it to yourself.
Find us at the beach at the bottom of the concrete track on the meadows (Dartington Estate) every weekend + 7 days a week through school holidays* where you can turn up any time between 10-4pm and hire whatever craft you fancy for only £10pp/h (50% NHS discount on the first hour). If you’d prefer to let someone else do the work, book a half or full day with an instructor who’ll teach you some tricks and take you wherever you want, within reason! Book at: dynamicadventurescic.co.uk/activities
Leaning into local outdoor life.
If you prefer to stay dry, there’s plenty of options. Let us take you rock climbing, bouldering, weaselling, scrambling and abseiling on Dartmoor. Or build your own Half Day Adventure by combining any three of these fun activities: assault course, abseiling, ziplining, high ropes, archery and climbing on our 70ft crag.
Outdoors together again.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our CIC - we’re looking forward to seeing you as soon as is safe and whatever the weather! Hurrah!
*subject to river conditions – check Facebook/ Instragram/ website for update
For more information, see out page by clicking here.
The historic market town of Totnes in Devon is set to host the sixth Totnes Pride on Saturday 1st September 2018.
Social enterprise Proud2Be is laying on a whole host of events, which will bring the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and/or asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) community together with their allies, to celebrate diversity in the town.
This year’s theme is ‘Marsha Was Her Name’. In a recent blog post, Proud2Be Co-founders Jae and Max Price revealed the meaning behind the theme:
‘Marsha P. Johnson is an important figure in LGBTQIA+ history. Too often the actions of Marsha and those like her are ignored, erased and hidden; not just from what we are taught at school but in how our history is spoken about, sometimes from even within our community. It’s for this reason that we are really excited to have the opportunity to honour Marsha and those like her at this year’s Totnes Pride.’
‘Marsha’s legacy reminds us of what Pride is truly about. It is a celebration of who we are. It is a reminder of where we have come from. It is a statement of where we are going. Marsha often wore flowers in her hair, so this year we invite everyone to hold, wear and/or decorate themselves in flowers!’
This year’s special guests are Human Rights Activist, Feminist and founder of African Rainbow Family Aderonke Apata and Film makers (My Genderation) and trans campaigners Fox and Owl.
Fox and Owl
The day kicks off at 10.45am outside The Dartmouth Inn with a special performance from Spectrum Choir and opening speeches. The award-winning Samba ROC Band, will then lead a procession up Fore Street and High Street to Totnes Civic Hall at 11.30am. The road closure will be in place between 10.30am – 1pm at Ticklemore Street and from the bottom of Fore Street up to where the High Street meets Castle Street.
Community bus service Bob the Bus will be running a park and ride service from 10am at King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC) and will also be transporting wheelchair users and those with mobility issues up the procession at 11.15.
It is at the Civic Hall from midday, where visitors can enjoy workshops, talks and live music, community stalls, Dot’s Cafe, a youth space and a variety of family-friendly activities including art and craft, slime making, face painting and much more.
There will be a panel discussion from 3:00pm at Pie Street, where local and national activists will discuss the theme: ‘Can We Be Proud of Pride?’.
There will be registered British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters present to interpret the opening speeches and the panel discussion.
The fun continues into the evening at Totnes Pride After Party from 7.00pm at Totnes Civic Hall, which will be hosted by The Ambiguous A and feature live music from popular Disco Funk band Golddust and DJ sets from Mamma Boogie Oogie, Rhi Rhi Rhythm and Madame Souza.
Due to a successful bid to People’s Health Trust using money raised by HealthContact through The Health Lottery, entry to all daytime events are free. Tickets to the After Party are £10.00 (16 and over) and are available to purchase online and at Totnes Pride day event.
To mark the event Totnes Town Council will once again, raise the rainbow flag over Totnes Civic Hall. The flag raising ceremony will take place on Monday 27th August at 6.30pm, followed by a Totnes LGBTQIA+ History Tour led by local Writer, Historian and Publisher Bob Mann.
Inspired by their own experiences of bullying, discrimination and shame- identical twins Jae & Max Price set up Proud2Be in 2011 when they recorded the first Proud2Be video. Since then various public figures and members of the public have contributed to the campaign.
As well as campaigning and hosting Totnes Pride, Proud2Be facilitates various groups and events, including a social group, activity days, fundraiser discos and more. In 2014 Proud2Be launched its youth project which now includes a youth group and a counselling & mentoring service.
Proud2Be delivers workshops to school students and awareness training to organisations around the UK.
About this year’s event, Proud2Be co-founder Max said:
“The Pride Action Group have been working tirelessly for the past year to ensure that Totnes Pride continues to be an event that we can all be proud of. For us, Pride is both a celebration and a protest and we invite everyone to come and join us for the sixth Pride in the town.”
Proud2Be are looking for volunteers to help out on the day. If you would like to get involved, please email Jules & Dot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proud2Be are also encouraging local businesses and residents to show their support by displaying rainbow flags during the week of Pride. These are available to buy for £7 from Proud2Be.
. . . .Over £500 raised at local charity event for Breast Cancer Now
South Hams ladies helped raise £543 for Breast Cancer Now in the space of three hours, at the first-ever Sustainable Shopping event of its kind, hosted in Totnes on Thursday 28th March.
Popping up between 6pm - 9pm at Coffee Couture in the town centre, the event took place as part of fundraising efforts by a local young woman. Laura Quick, from Totnes, will be attempting her first marathon in London this April on behalf of Breast Cancer Now.
Guests were able to delve into a selection of one-off finds, participate in a lucky dip with a medley of beauty gifts and have the chance to win a variety of raffle prizes – with live music provided by local musician and Laura’s brother, Harry Quick.
All proceeds from the event, both from sales of donated clothes and the raffle prize draw, will go directly to the charity ahead of the 26.2-mile challenge, which will take place one month after the charity fundraiser on the 28th April 2019.
The local bar and coffee shop was transformed for one night only in a vintage-esque clothes emporium, with all hands-on deck to help from friends and family. A flurry of clothes were donated for the event, after local women gave wardrobes an early spring clean.
Laura said: “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came to the event and to everyone that took the time to go through wardrobes and make it possible in the first place. We are so grateful to local businesses for all the donations to the raffle, as the amazing line up of prizes definitely helped spur on purchases!
“Training for the marathon has been much harder than I thought, but I feel very lucky to be able to run and in turn, do something towards helping raise some money for such a brilliant charity. The work that the Breast Cancer Now team do is so important, not just for women diagnosed, but for the families that are affected and to help fund vital research to prevent it. The charity believes that if we all act now, by 2050, no one will die from breast cancer - so every pound raised is truly appreciated to help us all play a part in that. Couldn't have done it without the massive help of my family, friends and most importantly, my wonderful mum!”
Organisers where overwhelmed with the support from local businesses who kindly donated prizes to the raffle, including – Eco Laundry, Dartmouth Ice Cream, Moved to Move, Dart Marina Hotel & Spa, Bayards Cove Inn, Lovely as It Seams, local artist Becky Bettesworth, Austin’s Department Store, Boots in Newton Abbot, Vincent Trading, Hill House Nurseries, Woolston Accounts, Gem Rose Hair, The Design Sheppard, Liten Hem, Food for Thought and London based designers Fee Greening and Luke Edward Hall.
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
After being closed for exactly one full year next Wednesday (17th March) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the scenic South Devon Railway (SDR) has just announced its outline programme today for a Spring re-opening of the seven-mile heritage line running from Buckfastleigh to Totnes.
The last SDR steam trains ran virtually empty on Tuesday 17 March 2020 after visitors deserted Devon just ahead of the first lockdown the following weekend. This dramatic change came straight after a very popular weekend SDR steam gala event featuring former branch favourite loco No. 4555 as the star visitor. What a contrast!
It’s now the longest period that the quintessential former GWR branch line has been closed in its 52-year history after re-opening as a tourist railway in 1969 following closure by British Railways in 1962.
Now, the SDR says it will re-open to visitors in phases starting with the large Buckfastleigh site first on Monday 12 April when national CV-19 restrictions are set to ease significantly for attractions.
The site ‘Open Days’ will follow a similar format to those successfully staged last summer and autumn. Opening up the site was very popular with SDR visitors last year, and includes the gardens, workshop viewing, riverside picnic area, children’s playground, Lee Moor Tramway museum, north signal box, and the gift & model shop will be open too.
Many of the SDR’s steam and diesel locomotives and historic coaches will be on display and, on selected days, both the miniature railway and the garden railway will be in operation too.
The SDR site will be open all of the week commencing 12th April for the half-term holiday, then on every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until 16th May. Entrance is free, but the SDR does ask for a donation at the gate. There is plenty of free car parking at Buckfastleigh station too.
And, at long last, the really good news is that SDR trains are set to start steaming down the picturesque valley of the River Dart once more from Monday 17 May, and the fantastic sight, sound and smell of them are now almost as much a natural part of the landscape as the trees, green fields, cattle and Devon’s rolling hills.
Not surprisingly, SDR staff can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the railway. A timetable of four steam trains per day will be in operation, leaving Buckfastleigh at 10.30, 12.10, 2.15 and 4.00, and arriving back about one and quarter hours later.