I didn’t expect to find a tiny island in Totnes, so it was a marvellous surprise to discover it at the bottom of town after our shopping spree.

That morning, Mr Word Loft and I noticed half the retail outlets were closed for the day. We have made the mistake on other occasions and should have checked beforehand. Thankfully enough were open to make it worth staying, and we didn’t have any trouble spending lots of money, so maybe it was just as well.

It’s a charming place in any season, but particularly at Christmastime when windows are decorated festively, and coloured twinkling lights zig-zag across the roads. Spanning the main thoroughfare, East Gate Arch, was originally the gateway to the Medieval town and was rebuilt following a fire wrecking it in 1990. Today its pristine black and white clock seems to stare down proudly at passers-by along Fore Street and the High Street. They and the surrounding lanes are a tumble of cottages, and buildings oozing character. Many are independent businesses, including two bookshops.

It didn’t take long to decide upon having lunch at Pie Street. One look at the eatery’s menu, with its soul food, and the inviting décor, had us pushing the door open in a jiffy. The range of innovative pies all sounded tempting, but after much pondering, I chose steak and ale, and Mr Word Loft, steak and Devon Blue cheese. Feeling revitalised and full of heart-warming and tasty fare, we headed off to buy a few more presents before going in search of the River Dart, one of Britain’s most beautiful and historical waterways.

That’s where we came across Vire Island, named after the town Totnes is twinned with in France.

Leaves rustled on the ground as squirrels foraged and then scooted up trunks in the parkland surrounded by water. One side is fairly narrow and canal-like, but it’s much wider around the rest with spectacular views, including the three-arched stone bridge.

It was twilight and chilly. Standing at the head of the island, we saw Steam Packet Inn’s lights reflecting in the ripples. A welcoming sight, with the promise of hot drinks and warmth.


Until next time,
Sue. X