Welcome to The Tarka Trail

180 miles of discovery

Inspired by Tarka The Otter, The Tarka Trail is an 180 mile, figure eight loop exploring all the diversity and beauty North Devon has to offer.

Footpaths and bridleways will take you through unspoiled countryside traversing valleys and woods through Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks.

The South West Coast Path will offer breathtaking views of the sea while visiting coastal villages and beautiful beaches.

The UK’s longest, traffic-free cycle path links Braunton in the north with Meeth in the south of the region.

The final stage is a relaxing journey on the Tarka Line rail service back to Barnstaple.


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Tarka Trail map showing the various sections


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    Martyn Pope Avatar Martyn Pope
    17th November 2019

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    Patrick Wheeler Avatar Patrick Wheeler
    30th January 2020

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    Joe McDade Avatar Joe McDade
    23rd February 2022
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What is The Tarka Trail?

The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile, figure of eight looping trail inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter in the famous novel by Henry Williamson. The Tarka Trail will take you through ancient villages, wooded valleys, along the banks of rivers, high over moorland with spectacular views of Dartmoor and Exmoor and along dramatic sea cliffs and vast expanses of beautiful beaches.

Most of the route is footpaths and bridleways, though one section between Braunton and Meeth makes use of an old railway line to create the longest, traffic-free cycling route in the UK.

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The Tarka Trail Barnstaple

Where is The Tarka Trail?

The entire route is centered around the ancient market town of Barnstaple, the principle town in the North Devon region. The north loop travels up through Exmoor into Lynton and the Valley of Rocks then back along the coast. The south loop follows the river Torridge deep into the heart of Otter country, through Torrington, turning at Okehampton on the fringe of Dartmoor National Park and heading back towards Barnstaple.

Alongside the main north and south Tarka Trail routes are a series of short, circular walks designed to take a couple of hours, helping you to explore the villages and points of interest along the trail.

Tarka Trail routes

Cyclong on the Tarka Trail cycle path

Where can I cycle on The Tarka Trail?

The Tarka Trail is a combination of footpaths and bridleways with a large section being an old, converted railway line. The Tarka Trail between Braunton and Meeth is a section of flat, tarmacked, unused railway which provides 30 miles of traffic free cycling – the longest stretch in the UK. The Tarka Trail shares some sections with The National Cycle Network. Routes 27 and Route 3 criss-cross The Tarka Trail with sections where off-raod cycling is available.

Cycling routes along The Tarka Trail

Cycle hire along The Tarka Trail

What facilities are available?

if you are planning to visit The Tarka Trail, then why not take a look at our list of places to stay located near to The Tarka Trail, where hotels, guesthouses, self-catering properties, B&Bs and campsites are listed. If you are in need of refreshments, then take a look at our list of places to eat and drink along The Tarka Trail where cafes, restaurants, pubs, deli’s and food markets are listed.

For family days out along The Tarka Trail you may want to visit our places to visit page, or our Get Inspired page featuring towns, villages and places of interest along the trail.

View all facilities along The Tarka Trail

The Tarka Trail – 180 miles of discovery

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