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.  

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The River Dart

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.  

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Oliveta House

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! 

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32 Dart Marina

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. 

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Vantage Point, Hillfield Village

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! 

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Berry Cottage

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. 

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Treat your lovely mums in Totnes this Mother’s Day

There are so many ways to say ‘I love you’ to the important lady in your life. Whether you’d like some quiet time relaxing with just you and your mum or a more raucous affair with the whole family, there’s something and somewhere to suit all lifestyles and budgets in and around Totnes. Renowned for having many cafes and restaurants offering delicious, local and ethically sourced food and drink, you’ll find everything from a three course lunch to coffee & cake both in and out of town, with TQ9 at The Royal Seven Stars, the Waterside Bistro and The White Hart at Dartington to name just a few. If you decide to treat your mum to a home cooked meal this year, why not pick up some fresh ingredients from one of the local delis or farm shops and prepare a tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner fit for a Queen. However much you want to spend, both Totnes High Street and the Shops at Dartington are full to brimming with perfect ways to show your lovely mums just how much they mean to you with some of the most unique gifts from a wide range of independent shops and retailers. From scented candles to wine, handmade fudge to pretty porcelain mugs, there’s something for all tastes and to suit all budgets. Visit Me and East, Firefly or Pagoda Interiors for something handmade and ethical, Timehouse for something retro, White Space or the Bowie Gallery for something arty, Colony for something funky or China Blue, Out of the Blue or the new Moon Stone Hare for something simply beautiful. If you’re looking for a fun day out for all the family why not visit Pennywell and mums will be treated to a complimentary cream tea, take a ride on the steam train at South Devon Railway or paint an ornament at China Blue. Or if you just want to spend some quality time together without any fuss then why not go for a walk along the River Dart, sit and relax on one of the benches and simply take the time to catch up with each other. Take a trip to the beautiful St. Mary’s Church to admire the architecture or visit one of the wonderful surrounding villages from Dittisham to Broadhempston or anywhere in between. Why not go ‘crabbing’ in Stoke Gabriel or walk around the stunning gardens on the Dartington Estate. Whatever you choose to do or however you show your appreciation you’ll be sure to find something truly magical here in Totnes. For more information please contact Samantha Branch on info@visittotnes.co.uk

Independent Totnes Cinema

How many High Streets in Great Britain can boast their very own independent art-house cinema?

Totnes Cinema CIC is a social enterprise, set up by a local couple, passionate about film and excited about Totnes. So far the project has been entirely funded by local donations and memberships and the success of its carefully chosen programme, and we still have plenty more to do!! All the bar staff, stewards, and musicians volunteer their time and are paid with the chance to watch the film. Totnes Cinema is located in the heart of Totnes, down a hidden passageway just off the High St. Our mission was to bring back the magic of cinema to our local town. We were inspired by a wonderful photograph, taken in the late 1940s of boys holding banners saying “Save our Cinema,” and in true Totnes style, they marched up the High St to make their feelings known. There had been a cinema in Totnes from the early days of film and the last remaining one, The Romany, closed its doors in 1964 due to falling audiences. The building became the well-loved Totnes Library until its expansion and relocation, and the building fell empty. As a local couple, film lovers and with teenage children, we took on the challenge of re-creating a cinema for our local town center to create a social and cultural hub in the town.

As you leave the hustle and bustle of the market day, you are taken into this unique and surprising space, more like a Berlin cabaret than a cinema, with subdued lighting, comfy sofas, bistro table and chairs and luxurious cinema seats on the balcony. We even have a baby grand piano!

As a truly independent cinema, we can offer a wide range of films, carefully chosen from all genres including classic black and white film noir, the best from musical theatre, and modern-day classics and Oscar winners. With a fully licensed bar which stretches the width of the building, beneath an enormous screen we encourage people to come early and enjoy cocktails, fine wines, and craft beers and to meet up with friends, often with live music and a showreel of classic adverts. There is always someone around afterward, to chat and discuss the film. On a Saturday you can pop in for excellent coffee and homemade cake, as our “mystic portal” opens up to daylight. We believe we add to the uniqueness of our wonderfully independent High St and complement all the many individual traders and businesses around us, bringing life to the evenings on the High St as well as the days. Jane Hughes, Director of Totnes Cinema

Sir Francis Drake and the Totnes Orange Race

Sir Francis Drake is famous for many things – he helped defeat the Spanish Armada, brought the potato to England, and when he wasn't messing round with spuds inadvertently started Totnes's famous orange race. On the third Tuesday of every August crowds gather to watch participants chase their juicy citrus fruits down the high street. And it all started when Drake didn't dodge a delivery boy.

A juicy legend

The story goes that Sir Francis Drake bumped into a delivery boy carrying a basket of oranges at the top of town, sending the citruses tumbling down the hill. Because oranges were an exotic and expensive fruit at the time all the town's children decided to chase after them and a legend was born. Another version of the story, which identifies the boy as John Hayman, says that Drake offered him an orange which he dropped (perhaps in surprise as he had not seen an orange before) and let roll down the hill. It wasn't until the 1970s however that the first modern race was held, organised by the Totnes Elizabethan society.

Orange Tuesdays

Although the origins of the race may be legendary, the one rule is very real - competitors cannot carry their orange. They can however kick, throw, or roll it to get ahead. And if you're wondering how judges tell the oranges apart they don't – the rule is simply that the first person to cross the finish line with an intact orange wins. The course runs for 450 metres from the Market Square and everyone is welcome to join. Younger participants race from the top of the high street and finish at the market square, for older ones the finish line is at the Seven Stars hotel. Winners get trophies and the satisfaction that they can run faster than a piece of fruit, and afterwards a charity auction is held. Of course oranges aren't quite as valuable now, and if you don't fancy running down the hill after one you can walk into one of the town's food shops and find a zesty treat.
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