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 . . .

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Swap bricks for canvas this summer

Did you know it’s National Camping Month? With the hustle and bustle of life and many of us relying so heavily on our phones and other electrical devices, what better way to switch off and relax than to take to the great outdoors and go camping or glamping. Put the phone down and listen to the birds sing, take away the ipads and build a den with the kids, and get away from the TV to gaze at the stars. With June being National Camping Month there’s no better time to try it - whether a first-timer or camping aficionado, there are many places in and around Totnes where you can escape to the country and get back to nature. Higher Broadgates Campsite is based in the beautiful village of Cornworthy, just 20 minutes from Totnes, where you can secure a pitch on their flat, working farmland for only £10 for 2 people. If you’d like all the joys of sleeping al fresco but you’re not ready to bunk in a sleeping bag, they also have 2 Bell Tents which offer many homely comforts including beds, fairy lights, BBQ, hamper and games costing £55 a night. The family run farm has a toilet and shower for visitors to use and is dog-friendly as well, offering the perfect excuse for a long, country walk. Just 3 miles from Totnes in the village of Littlehempston, Devon Yurts offers an excellent base for a short break or longer holidjay with their comfortably furnished traditional Mongolian yurts and beautifully rustic Shepherd’s Hut. Visitors will be able to cook a hot meal on site in the communal kitchen, toast marshmallows on a campfire or dine in one of the traditional, local pubs, while enjoying on site comforts including fully flushing toilets, hot showers and solar power. Prices start from £50 per night for 2 people in low season. If you’re camping on a budget and have all of your own equipment, Beara Farm is the perfect place to pitch up a tent or park your campervan. This 3.5 acre level meadow is only a 15 minute drive from Totnes just outside of Buckfastleigh, or if you’d prefer a more leisurely journey you can take an historic steam train from South Devon Railway which is a 30 minute walk or 5 minute drive from the campsite. At Camp Dartington just outside of Totnes you can wake up to views of Dartmoor, wander through 1,200 acres of stunning woodland and listed gardens, and enjoy many delicious treats at one of the onsite cafes and Shops at Dartington. The site also boasts a traditional 14th Century Barn Cinema and goat’s milk ice cream made fresh at Dartington Dairy! Other local sites include Steamer Quay Caravan in Totnes itself, Broadleigh Farm Caravan Park and Higher Well Farm & Holiday Park both near Stoke Gabriel. So consider swapping bricks for canvas this summer, breathe in the fresh Devonshire air and stomp your stresses away in the countryside.

Romance in Totnes

In the wise words of Ghandi, ‘Where there is love there is life’...well we believe that love is in the air all year round here in Totnes, but if you want to get particularly romantic around Valentine’s or just spend time with your family or friends during the school holidays we have lots of charming things to do. With the sentimental day itself falling into February Half Term there are many attractions open offering you the chance to spend a delightful day doing something a little bit different. I mean surely there’s nothing more romantic than taking a ride on an old steam train?! Running along the stunning valley of the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, the South Devon Steam Railway is perfect for couples, families and friends and offers a great day out whatever the weather. If you want to get creative (and escape the rain if the weather doesn’t behave itself) you can visit China Blue and spend some time exploring the unique gift shop, treat yourself to a tempting treat in the cafe and of course paint your own ceramic souvenir or have a go at pot throwing. Alternatively on Valentine’s Day itself there is a 2 hour Evening Taster Class by Steve Robinson Glass at Coombe Park Craft Studios near Ashprington, where you can make a fused glass tealight panel to take home making the perfect experience and gift all in one. The class will run from 7 - 9.00 pm and costs £45 per person. You can’t beat the cinema for a few hours escapism and entertainment, and as one of the top dating destinations it’s a great place to take your Valentine or somewhere to meet up with friends. Totnes Cinema offers a unique and very romantic evening unlike any other. Playing films on a classic 35mm movie projector for authentic viewing and offering a fully licensed bar serving fine wine, local craft beer and themed cocktails within the cinema itself it offers a relaxed and intimate experience. The Valentine’s Day screening will be Baz Luhrmann’s passionate musical Moulin Rouge at 8.00 pm, or there is Romeo and Juliet on Sunday 11th February and Little Shop of Horrors on 16th if you prefer something more light-hearted. Alternatively, the quaint Barn Cinema sits in the stunning grounds of the Dartington Estate which will be playing A Woman’s Life at 8.00 pm on 14th February, a French tale of tormented love in 19th Century Normandy (subtitled). Why not combine this with a delicious meal at the White Hart Inn or one of the many other relaxed cafes, or take a walk around the beautiful gardens. There are many other pretty walks around Totnes if you’d like to take your loved one for a romantic stroll, with an interesting walk around the historic town or a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Dart, or if you’re feeling more adventurous there are longer routes to Sharpham or Dartington, all perfect for those hand-holding connections or view finding moments. For those who would like to be wined and dined, Totnes is full of interesting places to eat and drink. Whether you want the romance of a river view or the hustle of dining in the heart of the town there’s a wide range of dynamic cafes, intimate restaurants, cosy pubs and quirky bars to choose from for delicious meals, friendly drinks and family dining. Many places are offering special Valentine’s menus or have meals aimed at the little ones for the school holidays. Why not combine your trip with an overnight stay? There are plenty of places with rooms still available for the holidays or Valentine’s. And if you’re still looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift, Totnes is full of independent shops with unique, handmade items for that special someone. For more information please contact Samantha Branch on info@visittotnes.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.