Category: Blog

Totnes to Sharpham walk

By Coast & Country Cottages With the Totnes to Sharpham walk so picturesque, we just had to make a visual guide to show you the natural beauty of one of South Devons glorious walks. The bustling ancient market town of Totnes is situated at head of the estuary of the River Dart, and is the starting point to The Dart Valley Trail. Read more about sharpham walk.

Focus on Fitness!

Totnes Pavilion Leisure Centre has seen many changes in the last twenty months with these being extremely positive in the last six months. They are offering you a chance to register for a free day pass so that you can try the facilities for yourself and find out more about what they have to offer. Before the current management structure under Fusion Lifestyle was agreed in 2017 the site was being managed by two separate organisations. The Pool, Gym and Sauna by Totnes and District Swimming Pool Association (TADpool) and the Reception, Sports Hall, Dance Studio, Meeting Room, Tennis Courts and outdoor pitches by Tone Leisure Ltd. Even prior to 2006 the site had been under the control of TADpool and South Hams District Council. Despite the dual management arrangement having many positives over a number of years the flaws in the partnership started to show. A combined approach under the management of one organisation was the ultimate solution which has now enabled a longer-term business plan to be activated allowing some previously hard to come by investment. Fusion Lifestyle, a London based not for profit organisation with over 80 sites in their portfolio, were contracted to take on the management of the site and to draw up plans for updating the facilities. This has led to the following investments so far with the expectation of more to come in a phase two development (tbc). May 2018 o New pool filters and a circulation pump which has improved water quality, temperature and reliability issues o New Sauna installed and opened July/August 2018 o Main entrance/facade repainted o Fitness Class Studio extended and redecorated o New equipment added for fitness classes o Fitness suite redecorated and a completely new set of equipment installed September 2018 o New accessibility Hoist for the Swimming Pool installed To register for a free day pass and to find more information on the centre click here

The Bull Inn, Totnes

A radical new organic inn for Devon, squaring up to the seasonal veg hijackers and leading the way in doing business better. Is it possible for a pub to lead the way in sustainable food and ethical hospitality? It can, says organic publican Geetie Singh- Watson, provided fairness and authenticity as well as profit are at its heart. Geetie and the team behind the eight-bedroom organic inn aim to show through their actions that it’s possible to make choices based on decent values while being a serious player. Jump back 23 years when Geetie started out in the pub industry, ethical working practises weren’t even part of the industry agenda. Now, at least, the hospitality trade has woken up to the fact it needs to seriously shift its priorities. But there’s still far too much chat and not enough action. On the whole, it scores low when it comes to green thinking. Half-hearted requests to reuse towels aside, staggering water usage and eye-watering food waste are still the norm. In contrast The Bull Inn in Totnes, Devon will reopen its doors in early December 2019 after complete renovation, but this is not your usual we’ve-done-up-a-gastropub story. You will never see a generic foodservice delivery van outside, only farmers, co-ops and artisan producers making deliveries, and there will never be a packaged snack or bottled, transported water served at the bar. Instead this is an inn whose relationship with its community and its impact on the environment is as refreshingly engaged and honest and as you can hope to find. The inn aims to be sustainable to its core; with manager Phill Hughes and chef James Dodd at the helm the food served will be organic and the sourcing will be rooted in a logic that acknowledges the complexity of what we need to do to feed ourselves sustainably, but without being martyrs. This is a pub where you won’t find menu marketing greenwash. “The term ‘local, seasonal veg’ has been completely hi-jacked and is bandied around and abused so much that it now means nothing. A season for what? So often when you challenge places serving so called seasonal food it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But we won’t be serving woody turnips in April when the UK crops run out; instead we will source beautiful veg from farmers we know further afield around the UK, Europe, alongside Fair Trade tropical fruit. But will never air freight and will never say we are something we are not,” explains Geetie. With no whiff of a theme or fairy light in sight the inn has been revived using upcycled, recycled and reinvigorated décor, from tables and curtains to radiators and doorknobs. The team is proving that new is not always best, that craftmanship should be valued above all instead of seeking homewares manufactured far away with cheap labour to feed the latest style trends. “We’ve got to find a way to live and enjoy life sustainably, and I believe that’s an exciting thing. We need to push ourselves out of the way we have always done things; Like all other business areas hospitality needs shaking up. Our aim with The Bull is to show that you can work with integrity and succeed,” Explains Geetie. The opening comes at a time of social and political upheaval in the UK, and the hope is that The Bull will be a beacon of togetherness and inclusivity for the Totnes community, visiting travellers and the team that works there. It will be a proper inn and a decent boozer, where brilliant food, ale and wine will jostle alongside a raft of community goings on. “I want to prove you can be radical, effective and have a positive impact on society and the environment while running a successful business too. It is not impossible!” continues Geetie. “We don’t claim we are perfect but we are trying our absolute best. You have to have hope that there is a better way.” This is Geetie’s fourth pub refurbishment, with the first being the iconic Duke of Cambridge in Islington. Organic since the beginning, Geetie was trailblazing sustainable business and thoughtful food in the 1990s, way before anyone gave a second thought to plastic straws and bottled water. Having said all that, The Bull is not a place steeped in worthiness; There will be plenty of fun there too. “By that I mean fun for all – the team, the suppliers, the customers. Fun should spread. It has always been a really strong motivator for me. Everything should always come back to doing things well and watching others getting fun out of it too.“ www.bullinntotnes.co.uk The Bull Inn will open its doors on 1st December 2019. Alongside amazing food and rooms, we have a beautiful on-site treatment space. Sharing the same sustainability values as The Bull, Sarah Carr and Jo Woolvett will be offering natural beauty treatments and holistic facials for men and women. Walking the walk: • Heat capture systems in the kitchen to create hot water downstairs • Solar capture on the roof to power heating in the bedrooms • 100% organic linens from Greenfibres in the eight bedrooms • Bedside lamps carved from Dartmoor wood by local craftsman Rodney Lomas • Ceramics by local artisan Pippi & Me • Mattresses from Naturalmat in Exeter About Geetie Singh-Watson MBE Geetie Singh-Watson is the founder of the first official organic pub in Britain, The Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub, in Islington, London. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to the Organic Pub Trade’. An active campaigner and environmentalist, Geetie firmly believes that businesses must act responsibly and be led by their ethics and values. Her broadcast work includes presenting on BBC Back to the Land.

Finding the perfect holiday cottage by the River Dart

By Coast & Country CottagesSerene, beautiful, unspoilt: The meandering River Dart weaves its way through rolling countryside, its banks lined with undulating fields and woodland, interspersed with copious picturesque beauty spots. Whether you are hoping to enjoy long riverside walks, planning on spotting rare wildlife, or simply looking for a peaceful place to rest, the ‘Dart’ is a fabulous South Devon destination. That’s why the team of holiday experts at Coast & Country Cottages have put together a helpful guide to finding the perfect holiday cottage by the River Dart. From cosy cottages with wood burning stoves, to grand houses accommodating all the family, here are five tips to finding the ultimate retreat.   [caption id="attachment_8220" align="alignnone" width="750"]countryandcountry6 The River Dart[/caption] Enjoy the view! When holidaying by the River Dart, the views are nothing short of exceptional. Whether it is from your property itself, or from the nearby coast path, the landscape in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is second to none. Wildlife lovers will be in their element, particularly around Dittisham, where it is not unusual to see seals bobbing in the water or basking in the sunshine. These beautiful marine mammals are more commonly spotted on the quieter stretch of the river, between Dittisham and Totnes, whilst dolphins can sometimes be seen playing in the Dart further downstream in Dartmouth Many of the holiday cottages in Dartmouth and Kingswear boast sea and river views, allowing guests the opportunity to watch life on the water, without even having to leave their balcony or living room. These properties might be particularly of interest to history buffs, as the port of Dartmouth is where The Mayflower set off from on its voyage to the ‘new world’! With 2020 marking the 400th anniversary of this momentous event, there has never been a better time to holiday by the River Dart.   [caption id="attachment_8221" align="alignnone" width="750"]countryandcountry 2 Oliveta House[/caption] Relish in both coast and countryside One of the wonderful things about holidaying in South Devon is it combines both stunning coastline and picturesque countryside. This means, choosing a holiday property on the river’s edge, or nestled in the heart of the countryside, doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy both!  Gitcombe Estate is a collection of nine luxury holiday homes, sleeping 4-13, complete with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and children’s play area. Why not book a large property or multiple cottages, and encourage parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins to join you? Situated near the village of Cornworthy, the estate is surrounded by countryside but the River Dart remains easily accessible, via the Dart Valley Trail. This is an impressive rural bolt hole for family holidays, offering guests the best of both worlds!  [caption id="attachment_8224" align="alignnone" width="750"]countryandcountry 3 32 Dart Marina[/caption] A special location for a special occasion Whether it’s a special anniversary, a milestone birthday or a family celebration, the River Dart is a memorable backdrop for an extra special getaway. At Coast & Country Cottages we have properties ranging from luxury homes sleeping 16, to romantic boltholes for two. No matter what the occasion, we have holiday properties where you can make memories that will last a lifetime.   Why not book a retreat with your loved one at the luxurious Dart Marina apartments. Offering stylish accommodation overlooking the River Dart, guests at many of these state-of-the-art properties can enjoy complimentary use of the Dart Marina Spa too. Or for a larger group looking for a truly ‘WOW’ property, Oliveta House is unbeatable. Situated in a charming valley just outside of Dartmouth, this mesmerising home offers the ultimate in luxury, with everything from a cinema room, to swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) , and a hot tub Whatever you are planning to celebrate, book your River Dart holiday cottage today.  [caption id="attachment_8229" align="alignnone" width="750"]countryandcountry1 Vantage Point, Hillfield Village[/caption] Stay during an event by the Dart The towns and villages surrounding the River Dart host many events throughout the year, especially Dartmouth and Totnes. Why not combine your trip to explore the River Dart with one of the area’s many festivities? With events including Dartmouth Royal Regatta, Dartmouth Food Festival and Dart Music Festival to name a few, there’s no shortage of unforgettable experiences!  [caption id="attachment_8231" align="alignnone" width="750"]countryandcountry5 Berry Cottage[/caption] Making the most of the water Want to sail, go crabbing, or enjoy a spot of kayaking and paddleboarding? There’s so many ways to enjoy the River Dart! Home to arguably the best place to go crabbing, Dittisham, our properties located on the waterfront are superb for making the most of this! The riverside retreat Berry Cottage is particularly well positioned for an afternoon crabbing on the quay.  For keen sailors or kayakers, Kingswear and Dartmouth are great places to find accommodation, as they offer easy access to the river. Why not book Armorel House, or the Moorings? If you are looking to try surfing instead, choose a property closer to Blackpool Sands and the Start Bay coastline, like those at Hillfield Village.    With so many holiday cottage options by the River Dart, perfect for any occasion, you are sure to find the ideal base for your waterside getaway. Book your break with award-winning holiday letting agency Coast & Country Cottages today. 

Holiday Letting Secrets’ this January

Coast & Country Cottages presents ‘Holiday Letting Secrets’ this January

Back by popular demand, our property team and industry experts will reveal our secrets to successful holiday letting, at a free, informative evening event.

Hear first-hand how the staycation market is performing as well as booking trends for 2022 and beyond. Learn vital information to start your holiday letting business and listen to some owner success stories.

This year, we are hosting our event at The Flavel, Dartmouth, on Thursday 27th January 2022. 

There will be two presentation sessions – the first will be aimed at those thinking of buying a holiday home and the second will be aimed at existing holiday homeowners who are looking to better their property or letting income.

Come along and meet our locally-based team of experts, enjoy some local refreshments, and talk all things holiday letting!

To find out more information and book your free tickets, visit https://bit.ly/CCCHolidayLettingSecrets. We hope to see you there!

CCC Facebook cover photo Holiday Letting Secrets 2022 simplified text
CCC Facebook cover photo Holiday Letting Secrets 2022 simplified text

About Us:

Coast & Country Cottages is an award-winning holiday letting agency with over 450 self-catering holiday properties exclusively in Salcombe, Dartmouth and the surrounding South Devon coast and countryside. 

With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, we’re proud to offer unrivalled local knowledge, bespoke property management services and an outstanding level of year-round bookings. 

Many Coast & Country Cottages properties are achieving record-breaking levels of advance bookings. To meet demand, we are looking to add more self-catering holiday homes to our portfolio. If you are interested in letting your property, please call New Property Consultants Lana Stephens or Rachel Farley on 01548 800662 or download our FREE Owners Guide today. 


Discount to emergency services workers

Bayards Kitchen is offering all those who work in emergency services 10 per cent off food and non-alcoholic beverages at its Dartington café to coincide with the launch of its new weekly pizza evenings. The café, which was taken over by Charlie and Zuzana Deuchar in November 2016, is a thriving hub for the local community and beyond, with safe play areas for toddlers indoors, and eclectic menus that includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Now Charlie and Zuzana want to give back to the local emergency services by giving them a permanent discount off all food and non-alcoholic drink orders. Charlie said: “People who work in the emergency services spend their working lives looking out for others and saving lives. “This is just something very small that we can do to show how much we respect them. We’re very much community focused and its great to be able to thank those in our community who are devoted to helping others. This is just a tiny perk to let them know how much they are valued.” Those eligible for the discount include NHS workers, armed service personnel and those who hold a Blue Light Card, which provides a multitude of discounts for armed service personnel. The discount will be launched on May 18, at Bayards Kitchen’s inaugural pizza evening. “We’re really proud to be supporting the emergency services in this way, and we thought the perfect time to launch would be at the first of our Friday night pizza nights when everyone who comes along will be given a free glass of prosecco. Everyone loves pizza and we’ll be offering eat in and take out service,” said Charlie. To view the pizza menu visit www.bayardskitchen.co.uk

Totnes - 10 of the best small UK towns for winter breaks Once again, Totnes has been mentioned in the Guardian newspaper - listed as one of the '10 of the best small UK towns for winter breaks'. Easy to get to by mainline train, the article goes on to mention how Totnes has a glut of independent shops & cafes than any town of comparable size. You can read the article in full here.

South Devon Railway

After the South Devon Railway (SDR) stopped running Mince Pie trains after Christmas on Wednesday 1 January, work began in earnest on the winter track renewal plan between Staverton and Totnes where approximately 1/3 mile of old track will be re-laid with new flat bottom rail instead which will help ease future maintenance and cost considerably. And, with the SDR needing to undertake such a large, on-going programme of important work on both the railway track and locos and rolling stock over the winter period and into 2020, a reluctant decision was made last year not to run any train services over the coming February half-term period. That said, the SDR was well aware that a good number of visitors and local people will probably still arrive at the railway during the February school holiday and be expecting to see the line in Springtime despite there being no advertised services running. An SDR spokesman said: "Many people will expect the SDR to be open for business in February simply because we always have been in recent years when they can enjoy the glorious display of early Spring  line-side flowers and open views of the river, so the SDR felt it's important that something is provided for people to see and do rather than them simply finding that the railway was closed and then being disappointed. "Whilst there was no way a normal pattern of train operation could be provided without causing serious disruption to the tight schedule of vital winter works, and following a series of detailed discussions with all of the departments involved, a plan has just been drawn up which will see a limited train service for visitors with just minimal disturbance of important winter works. "As a result, diesel rail-car No.W55000, affectionately known as the 'Bubblecar' due to its great all-round visibility, will operate a limited shuttle service each day from Saturday 15th February to Sunday 23rd February between Buckfastleigh and Staverton only. South Devon Railway
"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.

South Devon Rail secure £124,800 in funding

Congratulations to the South Devon Railway as they have just received confirmation of a significant National Lottery grant of £124,800 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The organisation which operates steam trains from across the River Dart in Totnes, plans to spend the money on some exciting heritage projects and aim to re-open in December. Dick Wood, Public Relations Officer said, ‘The money be used for various maintenance projects and will provide immediate help with the costs of re-opening the line which has sadly been unable to run for over six months now. We plan to re-start with the 'Polar Express™' trains for the Christmas period.’  Part of the money will be used to upgrade the railway’s museum at the Buckfastleigh station, which is where the steam train takes visitors from Totnes via Staverton.  The South Devon Railway is the oldest heritage railway in the West Country having re-opened in 1969, which usually welcomes up to 100,000 visitors every year. It is a registered charity with a small number of paid staff and over 600 volunteers who run the railway every day from March to October, Christmas and New Year.

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.

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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

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