Small boy in cycle helmet cycling behind adults on the Tarka Trail
Small boy in cycle helmet cycling behind adults on the Tarka Trail

Devon - The Tarka Trail

Follow in the footsteps of Tarka the otter

The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile, figure--of-eight loop inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter from the book of the same name. Unspoilt countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and the longest, continuous cycle path in the UK are waiting to be discovered.

Walking or cycling, The Tarka Trail offers the best way to experience the beauty of North Devon.

Inspired by Henry Williamson’s famous 1927 novel, the 163m / 261km Tarka Trail is one of the country's longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths so it's ideal for young families or less confident cyclists. The trail makes use of disused railway tracks to take you deep into the beautiful North Devon countryside.

The official starting point for the entire loop is The Square in Barnstaple, just outside the Barnstaple museum of North Devon and the Albert Clock. Whether you choose to walk or cycle, you'll see many wildlife habitats including estuary mudflats and salt marshes, oak woodland, hazel coppice, hedges, ponds, streams, ditches and meadows.

The route also has superb views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary and features several wonderful sculptures and shelters created specially for the route. You'll also find beautifully designed benches and shelters by Katy Hallett, Ben May, John Butler, Geoff Stainthorp and Paul Anderson. So there are plenty of good places to rest and enjoy your surroundings. And maybe crack open that thermos!

Comprehensively waymarked, the walk varies from easy to challenging and there are plenty of different routes to choose from, creating a new adventure every time. Shorter sections and circular loops are ideal for day and half-day outings.

You’ll find shops, restaurants, pubs and public toilets at all the towns and villages along the route.


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