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Some Fun Things to do in Topsham

things to do in topsham

A list of things to do in Topsham for Locals and Visitors Alike

I love Topsham and have lived close to it for many years. It is a delightful town nestled on the banks of the River Exe. It has a rich history, quaint streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re a local resident seeking hidden gems or a visitor yearning to discover Devon’s charm, this blog is your one-stop guide.

We’ll delve into the top things to do in Topsham, catering to all interests. From exploring the town’s fascinating past at the Topsham Museum to getting lost amongst the treasures at the Topsham Quay Antiques Centre, there’s something for everyone. Nature lovers will find solace at the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh, while history buffs can delve into Exeter’s captivating past, just a stone’s throw away.

So, join us as we unveil the magic of Topsham! We’ll provide ideas for day trips, hidden corners to explore, and experiences that will leave you wanting more. Get ready to discover the beauty and intrigue that Topsham has to offer.

A Dive into Topsham’s Maritime Heritage: Topsham Museum and the Exe Estuary

topsham museum

Topsham’s heart beats to the rhythm of the sea. To truly understand the town’s soul, a visit to the Topsham Museum is a must. Housed in a beautiful 17th-century building that once served as a courthouse, the museum offers a captivating glimpse into Topsham’s maritime past. Explore exhibits showcasing shipbuilding traditions, fascinating nautical instruments, and personal stories of the brave seafarers who called Topsham home. Learn about the town’s role in the global spice trade and its evolution from a bustling port to a charming haven.

After delving into history, take a stroll along the picturesque Exe Estuary. The gentle lapping of waves against the quay creates a serene atmosphere, perfect for a contemplative walk or a leisurely bike ride. Watch sailboats glide across the water, or simply soak in the breathtaking panorama. Explore the charming shops and cafes that line the quay, savoring fresh seafood dishes or indulging in a quintessential Devon cream tea. As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow on the water, Topsham’s maritime heritage comes alive, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

The Museum offer some great guided tours and town trails in Topsham too. You can find details about them here.

Antiques, Art, and Ambiance: Unveiling Topsham’s Hidden Gems

topsham quay antiques centre

Topsham isn’t just about its maritime past; it’s a treasure trove for art and antique lovers. A haven for curious minds and collectors, the Topsham Quay Antiques Centre is a labyrinthine delight. Spread across several buildings, the centre houses a diverse collection of antiques, spanning centuries and continents. Get lost amidst vintage furniture, exquisite jewellery, rare books, and unique collectibles. Unearth a forgotten treasure or that perfect piece to add a touch of history to your home.

For a dose of contemporary art, explore the independent galleries scattered around Topsham. Discover local talent, admire stunning paintings and sculptures, or perhaps find a one-of-a-kind piece to add a touch of personality to your space. Topsham also boasts a vibrant craft scene. Browse local artisan markets or studios, and take home a piece of Topsham’s creativity, be it handcrafted jewelry, pottery, or textiles.



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topsham tote bag

A Cyclist’s Paradise: Exploring the Exe Estuary Trail

cycling on exe estuary

For those seeking an active adventure, Topsham provides the perfect starting point for a cycling exploration along the Exe Estuary Trail. This scenic route, stretching roughly 20 miles, offers breathtaking views of the estuary, rolling hills, and charming Devon villages. The mostly flat and traffic-free path caters to cyclists of all abilities, making it an ideal choice for a family outing or a solo adventure.

Rent a bike from a local shop in Topsham and embark on your journey. Pedal along the peaceful estuary, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Spot a variety of birdlife, including herons, egrets, and oystercatchers, as they frolic in the mudflats. Pass through charming villages like Lympstone and Exton, each with its own unique history and character. Stop for a refreshing drink or a delicious pub lunch at one of the many pubs along the route.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, continue the trail all the way to the seaside town of Exmouth. Relax on the sandy beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy a swim in the refreshing waters. Explore the bustling Exmouth seafront with its shops, cafes, and restaurants. Once rejuvenated, cycle back to Topsham, carrying with you memories of a delightful day spent exploring the beauty of the Exe Estuary.

A Taste of Topsham: From Farm-Fresh Produce to Culinary Delights

darts farm

Topsham is a haven for food lovers, offering a delightful mix of fresh local produce, traditional eateries, and innovative restaurants. Start your day with a visit to Darts Farm, located on the outskirts of Topsham. This sprawling farm shop is a treasure trove of fresh, seasonal produce sourced directly from Devon’s farms. Sample locally-made cheeses, artisan breads, and freshly-picked fruits and vegetables. Stock up on picnic essentials or ingredients to prepare a delicious meal at your holiday cottage.

For a quintessential Devon experience, indulge in a traditional cream tea at one of Topsham’s charming cafes. savour freshly baked scones smothered with clotted cream and homemade jams, accompanied by a steaming cup of tea. In the evening, explore Topsham’s diverse culinary scene. Choose from a cozy pub serving classic British fare, a stylish restaurant offering contemporary European cuisine, or a family-friendly Italian trattoria. No matter your taste buds’ desire, Topsham has something to tantalize your palate. End your day with a scoop of locally-made ice cream, savoring the flavors of Devon as you stroll along the picturesque quay.

A Family Fun Day: Topsham Pool and the Saturday Market

Topsham offers a delightful escape for families seeking a fun-filled day. A hidden gem nestled amidst the town, Topsham Pool is a charming open-air pool dating back to Victorian times. Surrounded by lush greenery, the pool boasts a large heated pool, a separate paddling pool for little ones, and a spacious sunbathing area. Pack a picnic, splash around in the cool water, and soak up the sunshine – perfect for a refreshing summer’s day. The pool also hosts various events throughout the season, from family fun days to movie nights under the stars.

After a refreshing dip, head down to Topsham’s vibrant Saturday Market, a hub of local produce and artisanal delights. Browse stalls overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-raised meats and cheeses, and handcrafted jams and chutneys. Sample delicious treats from independent bakeries, pick up unique souvenirs from local artisans, and soak in the lively atmosphere. Engage with friendly vendors, learn about their products, and discover the true essence of Topsham’s vibrant community.

A Walk Through Time: Unveiling the Magic of the Goat Walk

goat walk topsham

Topsham’s Goat Walk is more than just a scenic path; it’s a historical treasure trove offering breathtaking views and a glimpse into the town’s past. Named for the goats that once grazed on the hillside centuries ago, this narrow raised walkway winds along the edge of the Exe Estuary. As you stroll along the Goat Walk, you’ll be captivated by the panoramic vistas of the water. Watch sailboats glide effortlessly across the surface, their white sails billowing in the breeze. The ever-changing colors of the sky and water create a mesmerizing spectacle, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Dotted along the Goat Walk are numerous benches, providing the perfect opportunity to rest, relax, and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, and let your worries drift away. The Goat Walk is a haven for both locals and visitors seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Keep an eye out for historical markers along the path, offering glimpses into Topsham’s maritime past. Learn about the town’s role in shipbuilding and trade, and imagine the bustling activity that once took place on the estuary. The Goat Walk is a captivating blend of nature, history, and stunning scenery, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Topsham.

A Haven for Birdwatchers: Exploring the RSPB Darts Farm Nature Reserve

RSPB Darts Farm map

Just a stone’s throw from Darts Farm lies the RSPB Nature Reserve, a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. This internationally recognised wetland sanctuary provides a vital habitat for a diverse range of birdlife, making it the perfect destination for an afternoon of exploration and discovery.

Managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the nature reserve offers a unique opportunity to witness the wonders of the natural world. As you enter the reserve, keep your eyes peeled for elegant herons stalking their prey in the shallow pools. Listen to the melodious calls of warblers hidden amongst the reeds, or marvel at the mesmerizing spectacle of a flock of starlings performing a breathtaking murmuration dance against a clear blue sky.

The reserve caters to birdwatchers of all levels. A network of well-maintained paths allows for easy exploration, while strategically placed hides offer unobstructed views of the wetland. RSPB volunteers are often stationed at the hides, happy to share their knowledge and answer any questions you may have about the birds and their habitat.

The RSPB Darts Farm nature reserve is particularly renowned for its impressive display of waterbirds. During high tide, the mudflats become a feeding ground for a variety of species, including avocets, with their upturned bills, and black-tailed godwits, with their distinctive calls. Keen birdwatchers might even spot a marsh harrier soaring overhead or a shy bittern camouflaged amongst the reeds.

Beyond birdwatching, the RSPB nature reserve offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the calming sounds of nature, and reconnect with the natural world. Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or simply seeking a peaceful afternoon walk, this place is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

Some great places to eat in Topsham:

galley

There are many nice places to eat in Topsham. The folllowing is to give some ideas:

  1. The Galley Restaurant – Renowned for its fresh seafood dishes and stunning views of the River Exe. 
  2. The Strand Cafe – A charming cafe offering delicious breakfasts, lunches, and homemade cakes.
  3. The Saluation Inn – A family-friendly restaurant with a varied menu and a village centre location. 
  4. The Tea Room at Topsham Museum – Enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea in a historic setting.
  5. The Restaurant at Darts Farm – A cafe within Darts Farm serving delicious food made with fresh, local produce.
  6. The Bridge Inn – A traditional pub with a welcoming atmosphere and a good selection of beers and wines.
  7. The Lighter Inn – A traditional pub located on the banks of the River Exe.
  8. The Globe at Topsham – A gastropub serving high-quality British cuisine with a modern twist.
  9. The Lord Nelson – A traditional pub with a beer garden and a focus on hearty food.
  10. The Passage House Inn – A 17th-century inn with a cozy atmosphere and a good selection of food and drink.

The Topsham Ten pub crawl!

the globe topsham

The legendary Topsham Ten pub crawl, once a rite of passage for Exeter University students and a popular local tradition, holds a place of nostalgia in Devon’s drinking history. While the route has sadly been shortened due to the decline of pubs in Topsham, the spirit of the Topsham Ten lives on, offering a glimpse into the town’s vibrant past.

Traditionally, the Topsham Ten involved visiting ten pubs in the town, each with its own unique character and clientele. Participants would embark on a pub crawl, sampling a drink in each establishment. The route likely began on the outskirts of Topsham, perhaps at the historic Royal Standard Inn, and meandered through the town center, taking in pubs like the New Inn, the Globe, and the Bridge Inn.

The Topsham Ten wasn’t just about the quantity of pubs visited; it was a social experience. Pubs were the heart of the community, where locals and visitors alike gathered to share stories, laugh, and forge friendships. The challenge of completing the Topsham Ten added a layer of fun and camaraderie, creating memories that have lasted a lifetime for many.

While the exact number of pubs on the original route may be debated, and some establishments have closed their doors, the spirit of the Topsham Ten endures. Today, visitors can still recreate their own version of the pub crawl, exploring the remaining pubs and soaking in the atmosphere of these historic watering holes. Perhaps they’ll discover a new favorite pub or unearth a hidden gem along the way.

The Topsham Ten may be a relic of the past, but it serves as a reminder of the town’s rich history and its deep connection to pubs as social hubs. As Topsham continues to evolve, the legend of the Topsham Ten lives on, a testament to the town’s unique charm and enduring spirit.

If you enjoy your visit to Topsham, you should take a look at some other pretty East Devon villages and you should venture into Exeter or Exmouth too.

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