Things to do

Murder Mystery family activity in Totnes

At least a year ago I picked up a murder mystery booklet produced by Treasure Trails for £5. It’s been sat on the bookshelf for a while but last week we decided to give it a go. The trail started at the Totnes Tourist Information Centre with a nice easy clue to get us going. I decided to spice things up by making the game competitive - everyone had to make a wild guess before we’d even eliminated a single suspect.

I let everyone make two guesses and offered a free ice-cream to anyone who got it right. My mother-in-law thought she’d used some local knowledge to pick someone with a popular local surname so we all laughed when her choice became the first suspect to be eliminated. The Trail’s suggested time was two hours but we took a little longer with three children under eight. Time never once dragged though and was entertaining enough to keep their interest throughout. What I loved best about it was that it introduced me to lots of new parts of the town. I live locally and know Totnes quite well but the trail showed it to me in a whole new light.   

Totnes Town Trail

Totnes is a beautiful market town with a classic motte and bailey castle of the kind that children throughout the land are forever constructing at school. It is a fabulous place to explore, with pokey alleys and odd and interesting shops. It is fiercely independent and recently campaigned to block a popular coffee shop chain from opening a store. All this adds to the atmosphere of a murder mystery trail and we had fully convinced ourselves of the story of the local author who was killed before anyone could hear her last word. 

As we eliminated suspects and weapons we explored places with great names like Warland and Ticklemore Street. We also got to see The Brutus Stone, which I must have walked past countless times in my life without noticing it before the trail told me more about it. According to legend, Brutus of Troy, the founder of Britain, first set foot on this particular granite boulder as he stepped from his ship and declared ‘Here I stand and here I rest. And this town shall be called Totnes.’

Totnes Trail

Most of the clues on the trail were just challenging enough to keep our interest but the second and the eighth clue were particularly tricky. Only one clue completely stumped us but there was a text service on the leaflet and eventually we admitted defeat on this one and were texted straight back with the answer. My favourite part of the trail was a riverside walk which I never knew about.  The riverside walk led us all the way back round to where we’d started by which time we knew who the guilty party was and what weapon they had used. As no one had guessed correctly with their wild guesses, we finished the day with ice-creams all round! All in all, a great recommendation for a family holiday in Totnes.

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