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5 reasons why you'll LOVE Totnes

Quirky, independent and beautiful Totnes, nestled in the South Hams hills-often referred to as "twinned with Narnia" given its nod to the unusual and everything alternative and indie. Known for its bustling markets, fierce resistance to anything corporate and ability to make the extraordinary seem perfectly ordinary. Take a wander up the narrow lanes from the River at the bottom to the "Narrows" at the top, stop at the castle and admire the views and make a day of it.....

Here are our top suggestions for the places and shops to visit during your stay

1) Food shopping There are so many supershops (as opposed to supermarkets) where you can get pretty much everything your heart desires and avoid the big chains. Here's a round up of our five favourites; Annie's all things veggie and fruity with a brilliant, wide range plus dairy, olives and more and always served with a smile Happy Apple- Totnes' very own superstore with an incredible range of just about anything you might need- including veg, dried goods, dairy, preserves, bread and wine in the Aladdin's cave set off the street at the top of town just beyond Salago on the left.

Ben's Farm Shop - all things organic, seasonal and local. Part of the Ben's group (much bigger shop at Staverton) but this one has hot takeout food, bread, veg, meat, dairy, dried goods and beer/wine. A perennial favourite Eversfield Organics- a real organic superstore with meat counter, dairy, sweet treats, alcohol, great cheeses and a cafe. Halls Butchers- Totnes has its fair share of good independent butchers but Halls is our go-to with friendly, knowledgeable service, brilliant meat and wonderful home-cured bacon- plus a deli counter with scotch eggs, quiches, pasties and more- on the lower end of the High Street as you go up on the left. 2) Coffee, coffee, coffee Again, a brilliant, almost overwhelming range of choices. Here are our favourites; Hairy Barista- pioneers of turmeric blends and all things non-dairy plus amazing food and cakes and in our view the best flat white in town

Curator Cafe- -on the Plains in Totnes and home to the Totnes hipsters. Great Italian coffee, Italian style sandwiches and cakes Zappas- fully plant based, friendly cafe which has recently opened towards the top end of town next to the church. Great service, brilliant coffee and lovely food. Highly recommended.

3) Dining out Totnes is full of restaurants and pubs with loads of brilliant choices. Our top three would be Bens Wine and Tapas- What's not to like?! Local, innovative and tasty tapas paired with Luscombe drinks or great organic wines. They have a lovely courtyard for warmer days too.

The Bull Inn- The brilliant, award winning Geetie Singh-Watson has brought her uber cool brand of organic pubs to Totnes- The Bull is a beautifully revamped pub with a distinctly cool vibe serving the best of local, seasonal and organic (almost my favourite three words!) with some great "small plates" to start and mighty fine mains and puds too. Always in season, interesting and ethically sourced. They also have 9 lovely, letting bedrooms. Sharpham Wine- OK, not quite in Totnes, but very nearby and so worth a visit. Although its move from Sharpham means you can no longer saunter along the river to get to it, it's definitely worth the few miles drive to Stoke Gabriel. Book a wine and cheese tasting or a meal in the terrific restaurant, again featuring the best of local, sustainable and seasonal food in a very relaxed atmosphere. Don't forget to enjoy a lovely bottle of Sharpham wine with your meal.

4) Great independents Yes, there are a few shops in Totnes that are part of chains but the overwhelming majority are independent and whether you want to step back in time to buy vintage albums at The Timehouse, lovely organic beauty products and soaps at Apothespa (also great beauty treatments where you'll come out feeling, looking and smelling divine) or buy some beautiful houseplants at The Potting Shed, you really are spoilt for choice in Totnes. There are plenty of independent clothes shops, handmade to order shoes and gift shops. Try the brilliant Penelope and Tom for lovely gifts or the truly superb East and Me up near the Bull pub. Finally, there are three, YES, three independent book shops in Totnes- Arcturus, nicknamed "self-help central" and stuffed full of ecological, health and wellbeing literature; the lovely EastGate Bookshop which is very friendly, has regular author talks and a great range of books for adults and children alike. The last is the Dartington bookshop which is near the market.

It would be completely remiss of us not to mention the brilliantly quirky Totnes independent cinema, where you can sit at a little table, sipping cocktails or a fine wine and watch excellent films. It feels like a Parisian bar- just fabulous! 5) Lovely walks Our favourite Totnes walk is from the bottom of the town near the Steam Packet Inn along the beautiful River Dart to Sharpham estate and Ashprington and back in a loop. The views are great- you can see Haytor as you walk back to Totnes and the valley sweeps dramatically down to the river and marshlands where you'll see a plethora of wildlife.

An alternative walk is to pick up the Access for All path along the river towards Dartington and then loop along the Dart up to the Dartington estate, back down to the Cider Press and back to Totnes. Of course, there are lots of other great places to visit and walk in the area- terrific South Hams beaches like Bigbury, Bantham and South Milton, Dartmoor hikes aplenty and plenty of National Trust places, not to mention coastal towns of Dartmouth, Salcombe and Kingsbridge. You'll never run out of lovely walks, great food and pretty views. When you stay with us at Mill Cross Retreats- , we highly recommend a day meandering around Totnes, stopping for coffee and lunch and perhaps trying one of the many places suggested for evening entertainment or a meal. You’ll be charmed and delighted and we hope, understand why we love Totnes and its myriad quirks…

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