Sunday 24th February 2019 -Sal and Barry’s Totnes Toddle.

On a crisp sunny February Sunday morning, twenty four Torbay Ramblers, plus Boris the dog, set off along a spring tidal river Dart from the Seven Stars, to make their way to Queens Marsh. From the outset of the walk, the pungent aroma of the new season garlic assailed our nostrils. At the water meadow, two swans, one egret and one heron were in residence. These were just some of the thirty birds identified and heard on the walk today. The route led uphill through the woods, and down into Dartington Craft Centre, where refreshment break was taken. Then we travelled onwards through the hamlet of Week with its listed buildings and quaint thatched cottages. Passing Love Farm, we saw a huge cider vat, which had been converted into an unusual home by Lee Love. After a brief stretch of cycle track, we reached Huxham’s Cross, then into Staverton Woods, and a muddy downhill section, to cross the river Dart over Staverton Bridge. From here a riverside path took us to the Church of St Paul de Leon, where the morning service was still in progress, and singing could be heard. A brief history of the Church was related to the group, informing them that a religious building had stood on the site since the sixth century. The cemetery was awash with colourful crocus , snowdrops, primroses and daffodils. Back we hiked to Staverton Railway Station, via the Community Nature Reserve and Playing Fields, where in glorious sunshine lunch was enjoyed on the platform. Here we were able to watch two steam trains on their seven mile journey on the route between Totnes and Buckfastleigh. This line was part of the Buckfast/Totnes and South Devon Railway opened in 1872, finally closing in 1962. In January 1991 the line was reopened when South Devon Railway took control. After lunch our steps were retraced back up into Staverton Woods, where metal ‘Deer’ were observed at the old drinking well. Exiting the woods, we walked beside the river, before joining the pathway up to Dartington Hall. From there we meandered back down through fields, into the woods and along the ridge overlooking Totnes town. This brought us back to Queens Marsh and the return stretch back to the start. Finally tea and cakes were taken by fifteen of the group at China Blue, by way of a celebration having completed a ten and a half mile ramble in beautiful ‘spring’ like weather. Thanks to all who came along and especially to the back marker for not losing anyone!

Sal and Barry