Cycling The Tarka Trail

Devon Coast to Coast

Devon Coast to Coast

Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in the UK, with a long history of cycling and bicycle manufacture in Britain and an increase in gridlocked roads and overcrowded public transport, the humble bicycle is heralded by some as the answer to the nations traffic woes.

More and more people are taking up this healthy form of exercise, and with this being the case, there has been an increase in cycle routes to encourage cyclists to get out and about.

There are plenty of reliable cycle manufacturers and brands which supply touring and hybrid bikes such as the UK Claud Butler Bikes range. These will offer the cyclist a comfortable trip when taking some of the dedicated cycle routes throughout Britain.

The Tarka Trail

Tarka Trail

Tarka Trail

One of the main cycle organisations in the UK is Sustrans. You can browse their website for suitable cycle journeys and routes across the United Kingdom, and one great bike trail is known as ‘The Tarka Trail’.

The Tarka Trail is a North Devon cycle route and begins on Devon’s north west coast near to Barnstable and Bideford.

The trail takes in many rural Devon countryside and follows rivers, footpaths, bridges, towns and picturesque villages. Notable towns include Torrington and Hatherleigh, not to mention Oakhampton.

One of the main features of the Tarka Trail is the use of old disused rail lines which take cyclists deep inside old train tunnels (which are lit of course). The route is suitable for families and you can take a steady pace on mainly level trails. However, the route approaching Oakhampton becomes very steep in places.

Railway Tunnel

Railway Tunnel

The route helps to make up the longer ‘Devon Coast to Coast’ which ends on Devon’s south coast at Plymouth. It covers around 31 miles and takes in various landscapes such as coastal cliffs , wooded river valleys, rugged moorland, and sandy bays.

Tarka was an otter in a story and novel written by Henry Williamson and published in 1927, the route has various art works and businesses which help to build a rewarding and tranquil cycle journey through the very heart of Devon.

For those wishing to experience this route, Sustrans provide a comprehensive cycle map and can be contacted by the following methods: Tel: 0845 113 00 65 or Email:

For information and advice on purchasing a good tourer or hybrid cycle for the Tarka Trail or similar routes try:

Article by Simon Lucas

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