Torquay
Totnes
Devon TQ9
 
 
 
 

Totnes is an historic market town at the head of the Dart River estuary in South Devon, some 6 miles (9.6km) west of Paignton on the A385. It is a very attractive town, combining streets of old houses, city walls and town gates with a busy riverside wharf.

 
The town of Totnes owes its existence to its geographical position on the Dart Estuary and its topography.  Shipping could navigate no further up the river, it was the lowest bridging point, and the hilltop surrounded by marsh was an excellent place to build a fort.  By 907 AD the town is known to have been a fortified Saxon settlement, built to protect the upper reaches of the river from Viking raiding parties.
 
Totnes Castle (EH)
Overlooking the town is the Norman ‘motte and bailey’ Totnes Castle, now in the care of English Heritage. The town, spilling down the hill towards the steamer quay has many Norman, medieval, Tudor and 17th century buildings.  Sixty-six of Totnes’ buildings date to before 1700.
 
In 1965 the quality of the architecture found in Totnes was recognised by the Council on behalf of British Archaeology which placed it in their list of top 40 towns.
 
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Market Town since 12th Century 
Totnes is the second oldest borough in England and has been a market town since the 12th century. It thrived and grew wealthy from exporting Dartmoor wool and tin from the old steamer quay on the riverside.
 
Nowadays the quay is home to River Cruises. Regular outdoor markets are held on Fridays and Saturdays.  During summer there is the Totnes Markets - an Elizabethan Market.
 
The town is well known for its active arts, theatre and music scenes, and alternative lifestyles.
 
Totnes is a good place for the tourist to linger and thoroughly explore.  Visitors should start down by the river at the old steamer quay and work their way up Fore Street to the centre of town.  On the way they will pass underneath the Tudor East Gate Arch.
 
Brutus Stone
Set into the pavement is the legendary ‘Brutus Stone’. The street has many fine 16th and 17th century merchant’s houses including the beautifully restored Elizabethan House Museum.
 
At the East Gate Arch the street turns into the High Street. Here the visitor will find two, covered pavement arcades with stone pillars carrying the overhanging storeys of the houses.  These once sheltered markets – the one on the north side is the Tudor Butterwalk built to shade dairy products being sold there, and the other is the Poultry Walk.
 
The well preserved 16th century building on Ramparts Walk (just after East Gate Arch) is the Totnes Guildhall,  well worth visiting.
 
17thCentury Pub on Leechwell Street
At the top of the hill High Street flattens out and curves left.  This is the oldest part of Totnes, a maze of claustrophobically narrow streets and home to Totnes’ oldest pub, the 17th century Kingsbridge Inn on Leechwell Street.  It is also the route to the ancient Leech Wells – traditional healing springs used by medieval lepers.
 
Other attractions include St Mary’s Church, the Totnes Costume Museum exhibiting a fine collection of Victorian clothing and accessories, and the Cider Press Centre at Dartington.
 
South Devon Heritage Railway
Across the River Dart and connected to the town by a footbridge is the Totnes (Littlehampton) terminus of the South Devon Railway.  A trip to Buckfastleigh on this delightful steam railway is well worth doing.
 
The town is old, quaint, has excellent shopping, restaurants, pubs and live entertainment.  What more could a visitor want.
 
Plan Your Trip 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here:    External Link
 
Contact & Further Information
Totnes TIC can help with finding accommodation and advising on local attractions.
 
Getting There
- By Car
Totnes is 22 miles (35 km) south of Exeter. The A38 passes about 7 miles (11 km) to the west of Totnes, connected to the town by the A384 from Buckfastleigh and the A385 which continues to Paignton. The town also lies on the A381 between Newton Abbot and Salcombe.
 
- By Rail
National Mainline London to Penzance railway. Totnes railway station is situated on the London to Penzance Line, and has trains direct to London and Plymouth. Look up the detailed ‘Getting There’ instructions on the Plymouth page in this website.
 
- By Ferry
Regular pleasure boat trips down the River Dart to Dartmouth.
 
Google Maps - Totnes Town