Category Archives: Top Devon

Totnes – Twinned with Narnia

Totnes - Twinned with Narnia

On the ‘Welcome to Totnes’ sign that greets people to the town somebody added ‘Twinned with Narnia’ below it. It’s been removed since by those who don’t have a sense of humour, but to me it’s a perfect description of Totnes.

The town has been described as ‘New Age’, ‘Alternative’ and even ‘eccentric’ but however you like to describe it, Totnes is different to any other town in the South Hams, or even Devon for that matter.

The alternative lifestyle that many people in and around Totnes have adopted originally stems from the Dartington Hall Estate, and in particular the ideas of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst who came here in 1925. Dartington is just a couple of miles outside of Totnes and is worthy of a separate article, but for now I’ll just say that it’s somewhere that specializes in the ‘arts, social justice and sustainability’.

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Sutton Harbour

Sutton Harbour

 

If you’ve read my previous post, Plymouth’s Origins and Layout, you’ll realise that Sutton Harbour is where Plymouth was born.

In around 700AD Anglo Saxon mariners settled and created a small fishing community which they called Sutton (South Town).

From these humble beginnings Sutton Harbour has grown into one of the three largest fishing ports in England (the other two being Brixham and Newlyn).

The old fish quay on The Barbican has now relocated to more modern facilities on the eastern side of the harbour, but there’s more to the harbour than fishing.

This is the harbour where Sir Francis Drake organised his fleet to attack the Spanish Armada, where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America, and where Sir Francis Chichester landed after completing his epic solo voyage around the world.

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The City Wall and Northern Quarter

Northernhay Gardens

The City Wall and Northern Quarter

About 70% of Exeter’s city wall is still standing and although many changes to the wall have taken place over the years, it still encircles the city in much the same way as when the Romans built it to protect their fortress after they arrived in AD 55.

When they left in 410, the Saxons gained control and were forced to repair the wall in order to see off the regular Viking raids. However, when the Normans arrived, not only did they reinforce the wall, they also built a castle which had the job of repelling sieges and rebellions right up until the Civil War.

What’s left of the wall today is a mixture of stone and building styles from the Roman period onwards. None of the city gates have survived but the Visitor Information office in Dix’s Field provides a City Wall Trail leaflet that describes what’s left in more detail. Bear in mind though that the 2-mile-long walk isn’t as complete or as walkable as say somewhere like Chester.

If walking the whole of the City Wall Trail isn’t for you then I can recommend following the section from the city centre down to the Quayside. It basically follows the same route as Southernhay and can be picked up near to the Princesshay shopping centre or from the bottom of Cathedral Close.

This part of the wall is the most pleasurable to walk and there’s also something worth reaching at the end of it.

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