Flowing from two sources on Dartmoor, down to the sea at Dartmouth, Totnes is an important stop along the River Dart situated between the moors and the river’s mouth. The town offers an excellent jumping off point for exploration of the river whether by foot, boat or canoe, and is the point where it becomes tidal.

Even for those who just want to admire the river without getting their feet wet there are many ways to enjoy the Dart, and many things Totnes has to thank the river for – and the two bridges crossing it.

Bridges and Bridgetown

Totnes Bridge has the honour of being the last bridge to cross the Dart before it reaches open sea, as plans to build a railway bridge across the river mouth from Kingswear to Dartmouth in the late 1900s never came to fruition.

There have been multiple bridges across the river in Totnes beginning with a river ford and evolving to the familiar stone bridge today. It was once a toll bridge that separated Bridgetown from Totnes until it was opened up on October 31st 1881 for everyone to cross.

A second bridge was built in 1982 and although less picturesque than the older bridge was necessary for the increasing amounts of traffic passing through Totnes and across the Dart. It is named the Brutus Bridge after the legendary founder of the town.

Whichever side of the bridge you’re on there are many places to enjoy the river from. Vire Island is worth a visit for anyone looking for a nice spot to enjoy a picnic. Although not a proper island the 400m peninsula is named after the French town Totnes is twinned with (not Narnia) and is the perfect spot for contemplating the river from in the summer. And there are plenty of restaurants  and cafes to eat or enjoy a drink in, high tide or low, rain or shine.

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Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies

Tucked away down a siding of one of Devon’s beloved steam railways is a conservation project helping to reintroduce endangered species to the wild. The Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh is a small visitor attraction where you can learn about these beautiful creatures and the important work happening to protect them. We were invited to review the sanctuary by Visit Totnes. This was our first mini-adventure of the summer holidays and the girls and I had roped in Tin Box Grandma and Grandpa for the experience. None of us had been to the sanctuary before despite riding the South Devon Railway between Buckfastleigh and Totnes on other occasions. Tickets are available to combine the train, otter sanctuary and Totnes Rare Breeds Farm at the other end of the track. Together they make a full family day out in South Devon. Read more . . .

Share Shed wins the People’s Projects

The Share Shed, Totnes’ library of things, has won £48,599 from the National Lottery Community Fund in this year’s Peoples Projects competition. Its success means it can now become the world’s first mobile sharing library.

Share Shed staff and volunteers were told the news, live on ITV, last Thursday, following a public vote in the first two weeks of April.

The Share Shed will now go mobile - extending its service beyond Totnes to Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Dartington, South Brent and the villages around, supporting a more sustainable and collaborative lifestyle.

Mirella Ferraz, Share Shed Coordinator said: “We’re thrilled to have won the grant, especially in this case, which highlights how many people supported our project! We’re very grateful to every single person who voted for us”.

The Share Shed offers over 300 useful items for people to borrow. Its collection includes tools, camping gear, gardening equipment, cooking appliances, sewing machines and much more.

The Share Shed is at 16 High Street, Totnes, and is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. To see everything the library of things offers, visit www.shareshed.org.uk.

Mirella adds “We’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve received – and we’d love to have even more volunteers involved with our project. Supporting the Share Shed is a great way to help people whilst saving a lot of natural resources. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch via info@shareshed.org.uk”.