See and Do Category: Explore the Area

Exploring local beaches, towns and Dartmoor

Totnes' location makes it the perfect gateway to explore. Discover the beautiful beaches of South Devon, nearby towns like Dartmouth, and the rugged wilderness of Dartmoor.


[caption id="attachment_7835" align="alignnone" width="300"]dartmouthnew 18 web Dartmouth[/caption] Quaint Dartmouth is situated on the banks of the picturesque River Dart. It’s the perfect year round destination for a day visit. You can easily get to Dartmouth from Totnes by the Stagecoach number 92 bus, which runs regularly and takes around 30 minutes.  Check timetables here. Alternatively, enjoy the 45minute boat trip along the beautiful River Dart when you catch the River Boat that leaves from Steamer Quay, Totnes.  Boat times vary depending on the tides, so check and book first.  Along the way you may be lucky to spot wildlife and will get a wonderful view of Agatha Christies Greenway House and the Royal Britannia Naval College from the water.  It's also possible to buy a 'Round Robin' ticket for a circular trip by boat, train and bus. With numerous festivals and events taking place throughout the year and a rich maritime heritage, there is always something happening in this vibrant harbour town.  Find out more.


Salcombe was once a major port for the fruit trade and, over the years, has found fame as a safe haven for family holidays and visiting yachtsmen. It is situated at the southern end of the Salcombe Estuary; the estuary is, in fact, a ria which is a landlocked, salt water inlet, with beautiful, safe, sandy beaches.  The whole area is a Marine Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Marine Local Nature Reserve and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The estuary is bordered by magnificent cliffs which form part of the South West Coast Path well loved by walkers throughout the year. The South West Coast Path has been mentioned recently in the Great Adventures book, published by the Lonely Planet, as one of the world’s most awe inspiring hikes.  Described as “walking at its most diverse and most spectacular”, the South West Coast Path is the only hike in the UK to make it into the highly respected guide book. Looking from Salcombe over the water is the village of East Portlemouth with its lovely beaches.  There is a ferry from town which runs regularly to the other side. If you are adventurous, you can find many smaller beaches by joining the South West Coast Path and dipping down from the path on to the sands. Salcombe can be reached by bus from Totnes on the Tally Ho 164 and takes around an hour. For bus timetables, click here.  For more information on Salcombe, head to the Salcombe Information Centre.

Beaches in South Devon

[caption id="attachment_11836" align="alignnone" width="300"]SouthMiltonSands low South Milton Sands[/caption] Whether you're looking for a family-friendly bucket and spade day at the beach or want to walk to off-the-beaten track Mediterranean-esque azure blue coves, the beaches in South Devon won't disappoint. Blackpool Sands, close to Dartmouth, has been voted as one of the best beaches in the UK.  Despite the name, the beach is actually shingle.  There are handy facilities including a cafe and an electric pump available to inflate your paddleboard in seconds. Head west towards Salcombe and Bigbury for sandy beaches including Bantham and Bigbury, which are popular with families and surfers.  The beach at South Milton Sands (National Trust Car Park) is another popular spot for families and allows dogs all year.  Here you'll find sand and shingle, rock pools at low tide, and crystal clear blue water, which makes it popular with people looking to swim and paddleboard. There's also a cafe at the side of the beach for a post dip coffee. Head east to Torbay or Teignmouth (easily accessible by bus or train from Totnes) to explore the traditional town beaches complete with brightly coloured beach huts and arcade games on the pier.  For bus timetables, click here. dartmouth steam a  


[caption id="attachment_9035" align="alignnone" width="300"]dartmoor Dartmoor[/caption] Dartmoor really does have something for everyone. History lovers can explore castle ruins and learn about local myths and legends at our museums or on a guided walk. Families have plenty of exciting attractions to choose from. And there’s lots of opportunities for rambling over tors, cycling up challenging hills and staying active in the great outdoors.  Find out more here.

Visit South Devon

If you would like to find out more about South Devon, visit the Visit South Devon website where you can find information on places to eat, stay and things to do across the area.

You can download or request brochures from Visit South Devon by clicking website and Discover Dartmouth by clicking website.


Discover Dartmouth

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque South Devon region, Dartmouth is a charming coastal town renowned for its rich maritime history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant community. At the heart of Dartmouth's allure lies the majestic River Dart, a waterway that weaves its way through the town, offering a unique blend of naval adventures and idyllic landscapes.

Historic Charm

Dartmouth is steeped in history, with its origins dating back to the 12th century. The town's narrow, winding streets are adorned with centuries-old buildings, creating a timeless atmosphere that transports visitors to a bygone era. Dartmouth holds a special place in history as the final departure point for the Mayflower before it set sail for the New World in 1620, marking a significant chapter in the story of the Pilgrims' journey to America. You can embark on the Mayflower Heritage Trail to discover the town as it would have been seen by the pilgrims in the 17th Century. Particularly historic points of interest to visit in the town is Dartmouth Castle, which was built as an artillery fort, to protect Dartmouth harbour, and Bayard Cove Fort, last line of defence against enemy ships that had eluded Dartmouth and Kingswear castles and the iron chain stretched across the Dart estuary between them.

Cultural Hub and Extravagant Events

Dartmouth boasts a thriving cultural scene. Visit the renowned Dartmouth Museum to delve into the town's past, explore contemporary art galleries, or catch a live performance and film screening at The Flavel Arts Centre, where the arts flourish year-round. Throughout the year, Dartmouth comes alive with a calendar of events and festivals. The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta is a highlight, celebrating the town's maritime heritage with thrilling boat races and a vibrant atmosphere. The Dart Music Festival is a fantastic weekend of free live music from prominent up and coming artists, and the Dartmouth Food Festival is culinary highlight of the year.

Gastronomic Paradise

Dartmouth is a food lover's paradise, offering a plethora of dining options ranging from cosy pubs serving traditional British fare to Michelin-guide restaurants featuring exquisite seafood. Savour the fresh catches of the day while enjoying views of the river. Not to mention the sheer abundance of ice cream shops where you can enjoy a scoop or two of some of the best locally produced ice creams!

Retail Therapy

Explore Dartmouth's charming shops and boutiques, where you can find unique souvenirs, handmade crafts, and nautical-themed treasures. From artisanal chocolates to bespoke jewellery, the town offers a delightful shopping experience.

The River Dart

Winding its way through Dartmouth, the River Dart provides breath-taking views at every turn. Whether you're strolling along the waterfront promenade or taking a leisurely boat trip, the river's beauty never fails to captivate. The river is not just for admiring from a distance. Adventure seekers can enjoy a variety of water activities, from kayaking and paddle boarding to sailing and fishing. The Dartmouth Yacht Club is a hub for sailing enthusiasts, offering a chance to explore the river in style. The River Dart is teeming with wildlife. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the diverse avian species that call this area home, while seal and dolphin sightings are not uncommon, adding a touch of magic to any river excursion. The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company offers a unique and nostalgic experience, allowing visitors to journey through the stunning South Devon countryside by steam train and then cruise along the picturesque River Dart, combining two classic modes of transportation in one unforgettable adventure.

Planning your Dartmouth Adventure

Whether you're seeking a peaceful escape, a voyage on the water, or a cultural exploration, Dartmouth and the River Dart offer an array of experiences to suit your desires. Come and immerse yourself in the history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality that define this enchanting corner of Devon. Find out more about Dartmouth and start planning your getaway on the Discover Dartmouth website here.

Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat

Based on the glorious South Devon coastline in South West England, enjoy your days out in Devon on our steam trains, boat trips and paddle steamer - the only attraction in Devon that lets you enjoy the delights of Torquay, Paignton, Brixham, Dartmouth and the River Dart, Kingswear and Totnes on your day out!

South Devon Railway

The South Devon Railway is one of Devon’s and the West Country’s best loved tourist attractions and is the longest established steam railway in the south west. There’s plenty of space to enjoy our large 12-acre grounds in the sunshine, a large free car park, plus drinks, snacks and ice creams are on sale in a nearby kiosk. It’s the perfect way to spend a few hours on a nice day whilst avoiding the traffic jams and crowds at the beach and the Moors!

The South Devon Railway, or SDR, is a seven mile former Great Western Railway branch line, built in 1872, which runs along the stunning valley of the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. We run steam trains with heritage rolling stock and offer a wonderful all day, all weather attraction for families and people of all ages.

Totnes (Riverside) station is c. 500 yards from the main line station. Footpaths link the station with the town. Or there is plenty of free car parking at Buckfastleigh station - TQ11 0DZ.

Look out for special events happening throughout the year or make your dream come true when you book a drive-a-train experience.

Dartington Hall

Dartington Hall, a stunning Grade I listed heritage property set within a 1,200-acre estate near the ancient market town of Totnes. 50 distinctive bedrooms located around a medieval 14th-century courtyard offer a superb mix of heritage and comfort where you can remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Experience a sense of tranquillity at our impressive Grade II* listed gardens, which have been shaped and inspired by the remarkable custodians of this special place for over 1,000 years. On your visit to the 26 acres of tended grounds, you’ll find a range of stunning features with beautiful vistas and creative sculptures, including ancient trees and impressive plant species, fabulous walks and a newly restored 700-year-old deer park. Don’t miss our weekly gardens tours, every Wednesday, at 11am-12 noon from the Visitor Centre or a guided tour of our newly restored 700-year-old deer park; every Friday, 11am-12 noon. Tours run from March to mid-October. We have all kinds of craft courses too, covering everything from beekeeping, printmaking to artisan baking. Meanwhile, Dartington Live moves into its second season this autumn, with a host of exciting, original live art events– watch out for this year’s family-friendly Christmas show, which was a great hit last year. There is a wide film programme including independent, world and mainstream cinema, seven days a week at the 14th-century Barn cinema located within the grounds. Kids Trail Families can enjoy our all-new children’s nature trail within the gardens, with inspired nature activities including bug hotels, den building and more. Our gorgeous new trail map is included in your ticket price – make sure you pick one up on arrival! Food and Drink at Dartington With a range of options to suit all tastes and appetites and an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The White Hart restaurant offers a delicious seasonal menu with a fine selection of local ales and wines. Check their website for current opening times. The Green Table Café is open Mon-Sun, 9am-4pm, Breakfast: 10am-12 noon, Lunch: 12 noon-4pm The Barn Cinema Cafe  - A beautiful space where you can enjoy alcoholic & non-alcholic tipples, hot popcorn, pick ‘n’ mix and more.  Open Mon -Thurs: 4-8pm, Fri-Sun 12-8pm    

Totnes Castle

Hidden away in Totnes town, visit this classic Norman motte and bailey castle, managed by English Heritage.

Climb to the top of the keep to enjoy stunning views over the town of Totnes and across to the River Dart. Or enjoy a picnic in the peaceful grounds under the shelter of age old trees – there is plenty of space for families to relax on a summers day. Within easy walking distance of the town, the castle is an ideal addition to any day out in South Devon and you can combine the visit with one to nearby Dartmouth and Berry Pomeroy Castles which are just a short drive away.

For full opening times and prices, search ‘Totnes Castle’ or follow the website link above.

Parking in Totnes

Car Parking

The local car parks, a mix of short and long stay, are managed by South Hams District Council.  See the map above - LP indicates Long Stay Parking and SP indicates Short Stay Parking. Totnes town centre has time-restricted parking meters on the main street. There is also a residential parking scheme in place on many of the roads immediately around the town centre.

Disabled Parking

For information about on and off-street parking and if you have a blue badge, please contact South Hams District Council. T: 01803 861234

Coach Parking

The main drop off and pick points for visiting coaches are at the two bus stops on Coronation Road. There is also a drop off at The Lamb, near The Narrows, just off the A381, which allows passengers to walk downhill through the town. The FREE coach parking bays are at Steamer Quay Car Park, along Steamer Quay Road. A5 Coach Leaflet 2023

Parking Your Bike

There's a choice of bike stands around the town. Click here for a map.

Motorbike Parking

There are designated motorbike parking bays in four of the District Council car parks in town. There is no charge for parking in these bays. See for more details. On-street parking is also free, even when there are meters or a residents parking scheme in operation. Contact Devon County Council website for more information.

Motorhomes and boat trailers

The designated car park in Totnes for mobile homes and boat trailers is Longmarsh, at the end of Steamer Quay Road. Owners need to pay £15 per night for a maximum of 2 nights, all year round from 9pm - 6am. It is not legal to sleep in a mobile home overnight in any South Hams car park. Caravan parking in the car parks is not allowed at any time of day.

Electric vehicles

If you're visiting in an electric vehicle, click here for a map of the local charging points.

The Sharpham Trust

An internationally-renowned centre for mindfulness sits on the edge of Totnes, on the beautiful Sharpham Estate. There are several retreat venues on the Estate, where participants stay and learn mindful meditation techniques amid breathtaking natural scenery. Grade I-listed Sharpham House is a Palladian villa high on the banks of the River Dart, at the centre of the Estate, and it hosts retreats all-year-round. Visitors can also stay in Sharpham’s Woodland Campsite, meditating close to nature, or within our Coach House nature-retreat venue, or at the acclaimed Barn Retreat Centre, or even on solo retreat in our off-grid Kuti.  Sharpham’s retreats have featured in national and international media. The whole Estate is certified organic, run using sustainable and organic practices and is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is home to rich flora and fauna – including the endangered Cirl Bunting - and parts of the land are being rewilded. The Estate is also home to the award-winning Sharpham Cheese and the beautiful hideaway holiday let, The Bathing House. Sharpham House is only open to the public on certain days (see our events listing here). You can walk or ride to Sharpham from Totnes, taking the National Cycle Route 28 towards Ashprington. The Sharpham Trust, a registered charity administering the Estate, also operates Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground. You can get married in Sharpham House too, as various rooms and spaces are licensed for weddings. The Sharpham Trust is LGBTQ+ friendly. The Trust also runs a riverside campsite at Point Field which is best accessed via canoe. If you’re interested in volunteering weekly on the Sharpham Estate, read more here or email [email protected] We have been awarded the Visit England Good to Go Industry Standard Certificate.   Google map for The Sharpham Trust:     Google map for Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground:

Vineyard Nature Trail at Sandridge Barton

Some of the greatest childhood memories are made when exploring outside, which is why Sandridge Barton’s free Vineyard Nature Trail looks sure to be top of parents’ bucket lists.

The trail starts from Sandridge Barton’s Visitor Centre at Lower Well Farm and is great fun for kids, and informative for adults too. It's set in the countryside on the edge of the River Dart close to Stoke Gabriel in south Devon where an idyllic landscape of wildlife, trees, hedgerows, and woodland is also home to 32 acres of vineyards which produce grapes for Sandridge Barton Wines and the well-known Sharpham Wine.

As children scurry about searching for wildlife, parents can learn why this rolling countryside is perfect for growing grapes. Fascinating interpretation boards offer insightful information on grapevines, while children are encouraged to see if they can spot any creepy crawlies and to try the half dozen brass rubbings, including grapes, fossils and cows, which are set in the vineyard.

Stonyfield is a unique site as it boasts South Devon’s only raised limestone bed, a key feature in some of the world’s best wine regions such as Burgundy, St-Émilion and parts of the Southern Rhone. It was planted in May 2021 and the first harvest of grapes is expected to take place in 2024.

The trail is 1.3  miles long and takes about 40 minutes to complete, and after there are refreshments to be enjoyed at Sandridge Barton, where a gorgeous outdoor area has plenty of space to sit and soak up this beautiful place.

Created with funding from South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the  trail starts at Sandridge Barton (Lower Well Farm, Waddeton Road, Stoke Gabriel, Devon, TQ9 6RL) where parking is free. Well-behaved dogs are welcomed.

If you’d like to try the brass rubbings, head to the visitor centre before starting your walk to collect paper and crayons.

The Gardens at Dartington Trust

Experience a sense of tranquillity at our impressive Grade II* listed gardens, which have been shaped and inspired by the remarkable custodians of this special place for over 1,000 years. On your visit to the 26 acres of tended grounds, you’ll find a range of stunning features with beautiful vistas and creative sculptures, including ancient trees and impressive plant species. Our gardens team have been working hard to bring some of the hidden secrets of the gardens to life. On arrival, you’ll pick up a beautifully design gardens guide (included in the ticket price), and there’s also an activity trail for children to engage in with hidden paths to explore. Stay awhile and enjoy delicious food from The White Hart Restaurant or The Green Table café. Great for kids; Families can enjoy our all-new children’s nature trail within the gardens, with inspired nature activities including bug hotels, den building and more. Our gorgeous new trail map included in your ticket price – make sure you pick one upon arrival!  Open Year round 9am - 5pm. GARDEN TOURS Join one of our highly popular, volunteer-led Garden Tours (duration: 90 minutes) to learn more about the heritage, beauty and historical features of the Gardens. See our dedicated garden web page here We are hugely grateful to our wonderful volunteers for offering these tours.  (free for Dartington Members).    
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