Chris Wormald – A Photographer's travel blog.

Devon: Totnes


Images and text copyright by Chris Wormald 2010 – seek writen permission to use.

Eastgate, Totnes, Devon, UK

Totnes is a favourite town for me as I once lived for a number of years in a comfortable house overlooking the castle.

The Guildhall, Totnes, Devon, UK

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.

Mill Tail, River Dart, Totnes, Devon, UK

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.

Eastgate – looking down the hill, Totnes, Devon

Mill Tail, River Dart, Totnes, Devon, UK

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.

The Butterwalk, Totnes, Devon, UK

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” 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!

Friday Market, Totnes, Devon, UK

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.

An incongruous sight whilst looking inside Totnes Parish, Church.

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.



  1. Hello Chris!

    My name is Irene, and I am from Spain. I am an teacher for primary school and also a ‘photographer’ (more or less, jajaj). I wanted to visit england in july to refresh my english, and I discover totnes in a forum and my curiosity has led me to your blog, and I think and I am fell in love with this town!!
    I hope not to annoy you, but I would like to ask you your opinion. Do you think it’s a good idea to go to Totnes instead of Oxford? (I want to know real english people, not to meet spanish people again…. then you dont learn anything)

    Thank you so much!

    Comment by irenemendez (@irenemendez) — April 4, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    • Hello Irene,

      Thanks for reading my photo-blog.

      Oxford and Totnes are very different places!

      Totnes is quite laid back and quite “alternative” as you read in my blog, whereas Oxford is a big city with a lot going on and a huge student population due to the University and many colleges in the city.

      I am presuming that you are considering studying English in a language school – there is one in Totnes in the centre of town and I expect quite a few in Oxford.

      My advice to you would be that if you are a person who enjoys going out and experiencing nature first hand then Totnes would be a good choice, as it is in an area of England called the South Hams which is very beautiful indeed; and if you are a bit “arty and alternative” you will find friends in the town – after all you do not have to make the school your social hub.

      If you are a “party girl” and enjoy clubbing and the buzz of a big city then choose Oxford!

      Whichever one you choose, I wish you a great time studying English and experiencing our culture.

      kind regards Chris

      Comment by chriswormald — April 4, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  2. Hello Chris!

    Thank you so much for answering me with so kindness. Definitively, I’m not a party girl and I don’t enjoy clubbing. I look for a nice place to walk, any café to read and spend an evening, people who doesn’t care to stay two minutes talking with your and a good atmosphere. Totnes seems a small place (geographically speaking), but full of interesting activities and alternative people. You have ‘sell’ it to me great! 😉 I think I’m pretty convinced.

    Let me tell you that I love your travel photos. Specially those from greece and India. I think you would enjoy a spanish trip, let me advice you to come to spain. I can swear that you will have enough sunlight hours to make photos and you will eat marvellous, apart from enjoy the landscapes.

    Thanks again.

    kind regards and two kisses, one on each cheek (spanish way to say hello and goodbay).

    Comment by irenemendez (@irenemendez) — April 8, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  3. Chris,
    I found your photo-blog circuitously and by accident while reading about Totnes in a Wiki article about the author Edmund Crispin who lived in Totnes for a while. I’m a senior citizen in the U.S. with health problems and I go ‘traveling’ on the Internet. Your photographs are just what I needed to broaden my horizons by visiting Totnes. Thank you!
    So you see—- you’re helping people and you didn’t even know it. 🙂

    Comment by cave76 — July 21, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

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