Margaret’s Totnes to Staverton Circular – Sunday 6th January

The Sunday walkers met for their first walk of 2019, at Totnes, to be led by Margaret along the Dart to Staverton.

Seventeen convened and took the riverside path. It was a cloudy day but not a whisper of breeze so the waters were particularly still today and the weir, around a mile out of the town,  was flowing gently, rather than tumbling. There has been a weir at this bend in the Dart since the 16th century, built originally to harness the power of the river. Over recent years, a stone-clad, turf-roofed building has materialised by the side of the weir. This is the turbine house of the new Totnes Hydro which once again harnesses the power of the Dart.

We soon reached the Gate and Lodge House which is one of the main entrances to the Dartington Estate. In 1925 Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst purchased the neglected 14th century Dartington estate. They poured their resources into the “Dartington Experiment” – restoring the buildings and setting up a host of farming, forestry and educational projects, including the world famous Dartington Glass.  Dartington rapidly became a magnet for artists, architects, writers, philosophers and musicians from around the world, creating an exceptional centre of creative activity. We will walk through the  Cider Press and along the leat on our return but today we continue over field and through the paths of Parsonage Farm and Huxham’s Cross on this lovely January day to Staverton Bridge, from there taking path on the far side of the track, towards Barkingdon.

Lunch in an orchard today, before we begin to turn towards Staverton again, through country lanes and paths.  The station was opened by the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway on 1 May 1872. The railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway in 1897 and this in turn was nationalised into British Railways on 1 January 1948. The station closed to passengers in November 1958 although goods traffic on the line continued until 7 September 1962.

It was re-opened by the Dart Valley Heritage Railway, on 5 April 1969. The South Devon Railway Trust took over the running of the line on 1 January 1991.

The delightful and mainly level walk continued back through the Dartington Cider Press area where a brief convenience stop was welcome before we completed the final leg along the Dartington Access Path, beside the water meadow and below the last remaining working water wheel in Totnes.

Just over 11 miles completed in total and very much enjoyed by all.

Tea and cakes once again were enjoyed at China Blue in Totnes who made us all very welcome today.