Images and text copyright by Chris Wormald 2010 – seek writen permission to use.
Totnes is a favourite town for me as I once lived for a number of years in a comfortable house overlooking the castle.
As a town, Totnes has a lot going for it. It is situated at the navigable head of the Dart, a river that makes its way from high up on wild Dartmoor and later, flows past tree-lined banks along a beautiful valley, past villages aplenty and then the Elizabethan town of Totnes, before widening into a stunningly beautiful, tidal estuary and joining the sea at Dartmouth, a town of posh boats and expensive moorings.
The Totnes main street heads downhill to the bridge over the Dart and is lined with interesting, independent shops, lots of cafés and restaurants, galleries, several museums and architectural gems such as the Guildhall, Eastgate Arch and of course the castle.
Over the years it has gained a reputation as a town with “alternative” leanings, attracting artists and craftspeople, a wide spectrum of healers and body-workers, greens with political agendas, musicians and dancers and van dwelling hippies.
At one time, one of the most interesting independent schools (with Tagore connections) was on the Dartington Estate and until recently Dartington College of Art was the college of choice for students of international music and dance. The art college was first taken over by a university and lost its independence and tragically has now closed; but elsewhere on the Dartington Estate the Schumacher College attracts an international coterie of participants and workshop leaders who pass on true gems, at unfortunately high fees.
See my page “Dartington” https://chriswormald.wordpress.com/dartington/ on this blog for images and more text about the Tagore connection.
Every Friday morning, Totnes comes alive with an eclectic market day, the down-shifters who live in the surrounding South Hams in very expensive houses, bring their ££s to exchange for hand made bread, organic veg, crafts and antiques, Tantric Massages and Alexander Technique lessons. They meet in the cafés, exchange gossip and workshop information and read the noticeboards. For the town-dwelling hippies, payday is Friday!
The Transition movement started in Totnes as did the Lets scheme. The Totnes Pound local currency is more popular than ever, with most independent shops accepting them.
Yes! Totnes is great – a gem set in the the lush South Devon countryside; have coffee in the Narrows or under the Butterwalk, explore the craft shops, buy real bread, go to the castle, walk along the river to Dartington Hall and the gardens, stop and eat wonderful salad for lunch at the Cider Press Centre.
But for me, the highlights of my time living in Totnes, were messing about on the beautiful RiverDart in small boats, enjoying the golden light of a morning or evening high tide. Truly heaven in Devon.