The colourful market town of Totnes is renowned as a magnet for artists, ‘alternative types’ and London expats seeking the simplicity of rural life. Nestled within a South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Totnes sits at the head of the River Dart estuary and is perfectly located for exploring Devon’s classy Southern Coast or day-tripping to Dartmoor.
Totnes High Street is a steep hillside of indie shops and quirky cafes, threading its way up from the River Dart. At the base of the hill sits The Curator Café: an intimate coffee shop that showcases the finest wood roasted coffee and big Italian flavours. Nibble on some handmade biscotti and sip on a perfectly poured flat white as you flick through their curated collection of magazines and vintage books. Upstairs – almost hidden – you’ll find The Curator Kitchen. Following a similar ethos to below, Italian cuisine is king. The menu changes weekly and reflects the seasons of local South Devon produce. Expect fresh antipasti, delicious homemade pasta dishes and natural wines.
About halfway up the hill you’ll arrive at Rumour Wine Bar: a popular haunt that’s always packed with locals. Housed in a 14th century building that once served as a toffee factory and a jazz club (though not at the same time), the atmosphere here is warm, and the service is relaxed. But it’s the food that keeps us coming back. Portions are generous and their Sunday roast packs a real punch.
A few doors along is Love Frankie, a fabulous homeware shop. Lovers of all things kitsch, they’re on a mission to bring a slice of fun back into interior styling, with made to order lampshades, eye-popping prints and playful home accessories.
Totnes Market Square is a thriving hub of activity. Every Friday and Saturday you can catch a busy market, with stalls selling food, clothes, plants and bric-a-brac. Friday is flea market day and if you arrive early enough you can often nab yourself an antique or some pre-loved furniture.
Get your fashion fix at independent retailers Fifty5a. Both their men’s and women’s stores are situated side-by-side and their gentlemen’s shop has a real rock n’ roll vibe to it, with vintage New York inspired interiors and modern classic clothing. Meanwhile, their ladies’ shop is dedicated to all things stylish and unique, with beautiful scents and jewellery.
Take a trip back in time at Totnes Castle. Managed by English Heritage, this classic Norman motte and bailey castle was founded soon after the Conquest to overawe the Saxon town. Climb to the very top of the castle keep and soak in the far-reaching views over the town and across to the River Dart. On a summers day we recommend bringing your own picnic to enjoy in grounds under the shelter of the ancient trees.
The Totnes Brewing Co is situated at the bottom of the castle. These guys brew their own craft beers and stock a huge range of guest craft ales & ciders (there’s usually about 80 to try). Their beer garden is a great spot from which to take in the Castle and inside the bar has a warm rustic vibe that’s completed by an open fire on cold days.
Further uphill still is The Hairy Barista. You’ll have to mind your step on the way – the coffee shop is a little tight on space. But they serve some of the best coffee in town, from aeropress to cold-brew, lattes and espressos.
Once you reach the very top of the High Street, you’ll find The Bull Organic Inn. This fabulously restored pub with rooms, serves deliciously simple organic dishes, cooked from scratch. Each of its eight rooms features super comfy beds and eclectic handpicked furniture. As testament to its charm, The Bull has scooped up several eco-friendly awards during its short time being open.
Around the corner is a real hidden gem of a shop: Me & East. With an aim to keep the independent British high street alive, they stock a myriad of handmade gifts, clothing, jewellery, ceramics and more, all created by British makers. Owner Chloe is a also a trained jeweller and keeps her work bench within the shop. So, if you have something specific in mind, you can order a bespoke piece of handmade jewellery.
Just a stone’s throw from Totnes town is one of our favourite Devon businesses: Nkuku. This beautifully curated shop and café is brimming with artisan homewares, as well as handcrafted furniture, Indian antiques and gifts. Borrowing its name from a hut in Zambia, Nkuku works with designers and small businesses from all over the world; with a focus on recycled materials and sustainable production methods. At the heart of Nkuku lies their café, which will welcome you with the aroma of wood-roasted coffee and fresh pastries.
Riverford Field Kitchen ticks all the right boxes for us. Organic, plough-to-plate food is the name of the game, with an emphasis on dishes that elevate the humble vegetable. Menus change daily, depending on what’s growing in the surrounding fields and polytunnels, even the most committed carnivores will find themselves in awe of what these guys can do with their 5-a-day.
Sharpham Estate is well worth a visit. Nestled in a beautiful valley, this 1000-year-old farm houses its own vineyard and produces award-winning cheese. Their alfresco café space is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of vino during the summer months, but to truly appreciate their craft we recommend booking a guided wine and cheese tasting, followed by a walk along the vineyard trail.