Home > Blog > Experiencing the River Dart has never been easier…
Experiencing the River Dart has never been easier…
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.
Charity invests £1.6million in a new retreat venue at Sharpham
The Sharpham Trust is investing £1.6 million to convert a stable yard behind Sharpham House to a new centre for mindfulness courses and retreats.
The charity, which works to connect people to nature and themselves, has begun the creation of The Coach House - which will feature a new meditation space and 18 en-suite rooms.
The current, disused stableyard is a Grade II-listed building, dating back to 1760 when Sharpham House was built for the naval sea captain Philemon Pownoll.
Now work has begun to develop the single-storey quadrangle directly behind Sharpham House into a new retreat centre where participants can stay, amid historic grounds thought to have been landscaped by Capability Brown.
The Trust runs an annual programme of courses and retreats featuring mindfulness meditation and nature connection on the wider Sharpham Estate and on the adjacent River Dart.
“Prior to the pandemic we were finding that our programme was fully booked with long waiting lists,” said Trust Director Julian Carnell.
“As a charity we want to help as many people as possible and so creating more accommodation became a priority. The stable yard had become rundown and so there was a fantastic opportunity to give the building a new lease of life and restore it as part of the Sharpham Estate’s important heritage,” he said.
Retreats in The Coach House
The Coach House will join the Trust’s other retreat venues Sharpham House, The Barn Retreat and Woodland Campsite and it will offer a weekly programme for those in need of developing and deepening their mindfulness practice, compassion and their connection to nature.
Participants staying there will be able to spend a week living in community surrounded by the amazing natural environment of the Sharpham Estate.
They will spend time volunteering in the 18th century Walled Garden – helping to grow food for the retreats at Sharpham – and conserving the heritage and wildlife of the wider estate.
Helping 1,000 more people a year
Chairman of Sharpham’s Trustees Daniel Stokes said: “Our mission is to connect people to nature and foster mindfulness and wellbeing. There is now a plethora of research showing the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.
“This project will enable us to help another 1,000 people a year, giving them a chance to spend time slowing down and reflecting in a beautiful natural setting,” he said.
Using local construction companies
The Trust is using South Devon firm Carpenter Oak to build the frame for an eye-catching glass structure linked to The Coach House which will be the new centre’s meditation and dining space.
Classic Builders, a local South West-based construction company, has been awarded the contract to convert the Coach House and hopes to complete the works by January 2022.
“We are delighted to be working with The Sharpham Trust on this significant local project. The Coach House is an important listed building, not only in a sensitive location but also next to Sharpham House. We’re looking forward to drawing on our years of experience delivering comparable works in similar settings to make this project a success,” said Adam Brimacombe, Director at Classic Builders.
The Trust has been busy over the last ten years developing its charitable programmes and refurbishing the heritage of its listed landscape and properties. Every year, some 2,000 people attend retreats, courses and events on the Sharpham Estate.
Our fish fingers are made using line caught pollack from Devon and are battered in panko breadcrumbs, dill and spices. Our katsu fillets are inspired by Aarik’s (owner and chef) time working in South-East Asia and are made with plaice landed in Brixham.
The takeaway is available every day from noon Tuesday to Saturday. We are located on Ticklemore Street in Totnes.
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.
Day one Having arrived and settled into your holiday cottage the night before, it’s time to start exploring!
Retail Therapy 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.
Café Scene 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.
Live Music 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
One-day event will go ahead this summer ahead of full return in 2022 • Confirmed so far: White Flowers, JOHN, The Orielles, Anna Phoebe, Breathe Panel, Anna B Savage, DJxKWF, Heavenly Recordings, White Rabbit Books and MIRRY: From The Shadows Into The Light
• Tickets on sale now from seachangepresents.co.uk
28/6/21 -- Sea Change, one of the most distinctive events in the festival calendar, is delighted to confirm that it will return this year, aiming to spark a genuine cultural recovery in the South West. Following the inevitable cancellation of two editions of the festival, Sea Change will return this summer with a one-day event taking place in Totnes on 28 August 2021. The full three-day event will return to Totnes from 27-29 May 2022.
This year’s Sea Change event will see live music, film and conversations happening at atmospheric venues across Totnes, including St Mary’s Church, the Totnes Cinema, The Barrel House Ballroom and The BulI Inn.
Confirmed so far are dream-pop duo White Flowers; the BBC 6Music A-listed JOHN; The Orielles presenting a screening (and Q&A/DJ set) of their 'La Vita Olistica' film; violinist and composer Anna Phoebe; South-East based four-piece Breathe Panel; singer-songwriter Anna B Savage; improvisational duo DJxKWF; and MIRRY: From The Shadows Into The Light, an installation and live experience (with musicians Tom Fraser and Simon Tong) that dives into the magical music and archives of Mirabel “Mirry” Lomer.
White Rabbit Books will be joining the weekend too with conversations including Jeff Barrett and Robin Turner in conversation with author Roy Wilkinson about ‘Belief In Magic’ (charting the first
thirty years of Heavenly Recordings) and Gordon Burn Prize-winning author David Keenan who will be talking about his masterly fifth novel, Monument Maker.
This year’s event marks the start of an exciting new partnership with The Bull Inn (Eco Hotel of the Year 2020’ The Times and The Sunday Times), run by Geetie Singh-Watson MBE, which will host intimate events and bring beautiful festival food to Totnes.
Sea Change’s return comes as many festivals remain in jeopardy and are being forced to cancel for a second year running. Given the ongoing precarious situation across the arts, Sea Change’s road back to life will be purposefully gradual, with the immediate emphasis being on bringing a safe, small and manageable event to Totnes this year. Director Rupert Morrison explains, “After the journey we’ve all been on, we’d never be complacent about being able to get people back to congregate safely.
We’ve designed a day of live arts for intimate audiences that enables us to bring people back together with safety. We’ve kept it as small as we can and there will likely be some social distancing measures, but, whereas large events will continue to be so susceptible to governmental COVID parameters, our scale enables us to present a euphoric live experience. We can’t wait.”
The first two Sea Change events (2016 and 2017) generated over one million pounds for the local economy and today's announcement and continued commitment to the area will be very welcome news to a town synonymous with tourism. Sea Change is committed to bringing new and exciting events in music, art, film, literature, conversation and culture to the South West and specifically Totnes. All events will follow Sea Change’s original mission statement, ‘Always intimate, always different, always special, always rare’.
Rupert Morrrison adds, “I remember how different the town felt on those first few weekends. It was more alive than it had been in decades and everyone felt it. We’re still really in love with the town and we’re going to bring Sea Change to Totnes for a full weekend from 27th - 29th May 2022. We’ve started production now and it feels great getting back to it.”
Since the last proper edition of the festival in 2019, Sea Change became one of the first events to go digital, ran an extremely successful Crowdfunder campaign to ensure its survival and was also awarded a grant as part of Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund. Now, the re-branded Sea Change Presents has already operated a pioneering socially distant live show with Squid (on the eve of their BBC Jools Holland appearance) at St Mary’s Church and has announced forthcoming Totnes shows for Gruff Rhys and Pip Blom.
As it returns, Sea Change also announces the formation of an advisory board to support its events, which includes Venue Group Head Of Production Chris Pollard; Rough Trade Books co-founder Nina
Herve; live arts programmers Chris Bye, Susanna Grant and Kirsteen McNish; artists Matthew Shaw and Jenny Frances; press officer Michael Barrett; artist manager Andrew Ellis; journalist and broadcaster Laura Barton; and Heavenly Recordings founder Jeff Barrett. One of the board’s first commitments has been to sign up to the PRS-supported Keychange movement, a global network working towards gender equality in the music industry.
Rupert Morrison explains: “We wanted to this past year as a complete redux; a one-time opportunity to really look at what we’re doing and where we want to be. The members of the board have all been instrumental in Sea Change’s successes so far and I am thrilled that I have been able to call on them all to ensure that we continue to head towards something genuinely different”.
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.