Tarka Trail crossing the River Torridge between Bideford and Torrington.
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The Tarka Trail, over 180 miles in length taking a looping route through North and Mid Devon, from the rugged Atlantic Coast, the estuaries of the two rivers of Tarka the otter fame, the Rivers Taw and Torridge through rural Devon Countryside onto the northern Slopes of Dartmoor, and the source of the River Taw. The Trail between Barnstaple, down the Taw, upriver to Bideford, following the Torridge to Torrington takes the route of a disused railway line and is particularly suited for both cyclists and walkers. Along the North Devon Coast, following the South West Coast Path, taking in Baggy Point, Mortehoe, Lynmouth up Contisbury Hill to Exmoor, Lorna Doone Country. Cycling Walking
Though the stretches of Trail from Bideford to Barnstaple are the most well used by cyclists, a cycle ride from Bideford to Torrington and on towards Meeth is equally delightful, taking in salt marsh, and the mellow North Devon countryside as the Trail heads inland along the floodplain of the Torridge. Beloved by Henry Williamson, the author of Tarka the Otter after which the Trail is named.
A few miles out of Bideford is the Ironbridge, offering good views along the river, upstream to ancient oak woodlands of the west bank of the river as it makes a wide loop. Did you notice the lime kiln just downriver of Ironbridge? The River Yeo joins the Torridge at Landcross, which village the Trail passes in a short length of tunnel. Then following first the east bank then the west bank of the River as the route gently climbs towards the former Torrington Station- now the Puffing Billy a good place to stop for a break and bite to eat. At Beam the Trail crosses the River no less than 3 times in less than half a mile. To reach the Cavalier Town of Torrington high on the hill leave the Trail at the Station.
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Beyond the Puffing Billy the Trail yet again crosses the Torridge, this time on a high level viaduct, offering good views along the River, before heading South west towards Meeth, passing Pencleave Woods and Watergate Halt. This is unspoilt Devon countryside at its best. The Trail reaches a summit on Stowford Moor as it approaches the ball clay works at Merton and Meeth. Beyond Meeth the Trail follows footpaths and quiet country lanes to Hatherleigh, then quieter country lanes hence to Jacobstowe and Okehampton.
Devon Cycle Bicycle Bike Hire Tarka Trail Cycles and helmets may be hired from outlets at Barnstaple, Bideford, Instow and Fremington Quay. Mention must be made of the mouth watering food at Fremington.
Valley of the Rocks
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The Tarka Trail