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Top places to live in Devon Topsham

Want a waterside location but without the tourists and schlep to the shops? Welcome to Topsham, an oh-so pretty, bijou town on the Exe estuary, less than five miles from the bright lights of Exeter. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.


Seventeenth-century Dutch architecture, a high street rammed with independently-owned stores and excellent motorway and rail links: Muddy has a lotta love for Topsham or Topsum if you want to sound like a true Devonian. And it’s not just us. The town has its own CIC, Love Topsham run entirely by enamoured volunteers.

It’s also very family friendly, with a strong community feel, plus a popular nursery, Little Ducklings, and an indie children’s store and play group, Squid & the Kid, run by two local mums new to town.

Assets like these don’t come cheap and property turnover is low meaning property is in demand, BUT…a raft of classy new developments in the ‘Topsham Gap’ and more rumoured to be on the way, mean now could be the time to get a look-in.


It’s buzzy by day and has plenty of nightlife (but not the noisy nightclub kind), whether you fancy a takeaway coffee on the quayside (from Sara’s Petite Cuisine or the newbie cafe-come-house-plant-shop in town, Circle) or want to eat in. Both the seafood eatery, The Galley and The Salutation Inn won Michelin Plates in 2021, while Denleys Essence of India has been crowned Asian Restaurant of The Year in the West Country two years on the run.

Just a pint and a plate by the estuary you’re after? Hotfoot it (or bike it – it’s on the cycle route) to The Passage House. And meat-eaters, don’t miss The Pig & Pallet, for local reared meat and a quirky interior to keep you gawking when you run out of talking.


If Carlsberg made high streets…Topsham’s Fore Street is what every town wishes it had, replete with indie stores. You’d never need to leave, unless maybe you wanted a Bordallo Pinheiro cabbage platter (oh, they’ve got those too). It’s all here, whether you’re after a quirky gift or on-trend jewellery (hello, Lark), a riffle through the boutique rails (Siena Boutique, Pea & Mint and Du Barry), coast-inspired art (Fleming & Sell) or a beach bag made with recycled sails from Sails & Canvas.

Food-wise, your wicker basket will simply overfloweth with local produce, from the greengrocer, wine shop, florist, butchers, wet fish stall, the Portugese deli Mercado, refill shop Nourish Zero Waste and the brilliant Country Cheeses. And all independent – practically a mini-me Totnes but closer to a city.


The theatres, cathedral, university, shops and bars of Exeter are ten minutes down the road, along with an IKEA and Exeter Golf and Country Club with its pools and spa, and Darts Farm, a huge farm shop with a Fired Earth concession, hair salon and eateries.

It’s all go for outdoorsy types, with boating, paddle-boarding and kayaking on the estuary, the Exe Estuary Trail , a flat (yay!) 16-mile route, plus tennis courts, bowling and sailing clubs and an outdoor swimming pool. Two ferries to and fro across the River Exe, should you fancy a waterside pint at The Turf Locks or a cycle along the other side of the estuary. And Exmouth, 6 miles away, has a two-mile long golden beach and excellent watersports.

Devon’s quirkiest National Trust property is nearby – the 16-sided A la Ronde full of curios collected by two well-traveled Victorian sisters.


It’s steep – you won’t get much change from £500,00 for a terrace and the historic houses along The Strand go for more than twice that amount. The new developments on the outskirts, at Seabrook Orchards for example, offer three and four-bed homes from £415,000 to £625,000.


This 3/4 bed Smithy on Denver Road in the heart of Topsham is on the market for £600,00


For littlies, Topsham Primary is rated Good by Ofsted or there is the outstanding St Peters independent prep school in nearby Lympstone. A bus goes daily to the selective independent Exeter School from Darts Farm, just down the road at Topsham. Isca Academy, on Exeter Road, is rated Good and is the state school of choice for local creatives.


Former newsreader, Sir Trevor Macdonald MBE has owned a home here for years (and Muddy knows because we once spotted him on The Strand).


For London, the half-hourly Avocet Line takes 19 minutes to Exeter St Davids. From Exeter St Davids, it’s 2hrs 10 to Paddington or closer to three hours from Exeter Central to Waterloo. The M5 at Junction 30 is two miles or around ten minutes away.

View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live  

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