Tarka Trail



Cyclists on the Tarka Trail heading into Instow


From – to: Braunton to Meeth via Barnstaple
Distance: Just over 30 miles
Terrain: Disused railway path. Tarmac and finely packed stone surface
Access: Barnstaple railway station
National Cycle Network: National Routes 3 and 27


The Tarka Trail incorporates one of the country’s longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths, and forms part of the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route. It is mostly flat and easy to cycle for people of all ages and abilities.


There are several places you can join the Tarka Trail cycle path. There are car parks at both ends, at Braunton (Caen Car Park) and Meeth (Meeth Halt).

In between those two points, there is parking and access from Barnstaple, Fremington Quay, Instow, Bideford and Torrington.
Please visit the parking and access page for more information.

The Route

This route gives you superb views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary and features several wonderful sculptures and shelters created for the route; the perfect place to rest and enjoy the surroundings.

Travelling the route you will experience many wildlife habitats including estuary mud flats and salt marshes, oak woodland, hazel coppice, hedges, ponds, streams, ditches and meadows.

Beginning in the pretty village of Braunton, the route is incredibly easy to follow. It’s also flat and traffic-free, making it very suitable for families.

Your journey will continue along the banks of the River Taw, passing through Chivenor and crossing the tributary river Yeo on the new swing bridge at Barnstaple. A detour into Barnstaple town centre is a worthwhile visit, taking in the Pannier Market and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

The route then takes you up the Torridge Estuary, passing Instow and Bideford. These are great places to stop off for refreshments with lots of cafes and restaurants.

Do not miss the Puffing Billy, a relaxed pub at the former Torrington railway station. It is right on the Tarka Trail and the restored waiting room serves as the restaurant. There is also a goods brake van, coal truck and buffet carriage on a restored stretch of track.

You can either leave the Traka Trail on the line of the old tramway route and finish in the beautiful town of Great Torrington or continue on the route across the river on the railway to where the path currently ends at Meeth.

Here is a useful PDF guide you can download, produced by The Tarka Trail Guide

Tarka Trail cycle guide download

There are several cafes and pubs along the route for refreshments.

The Tarka Trail is one of Sustrans Art Trails. Along it you will beautifully designed benches and shelters by Katy Hallett, Ben May, John Butler, Geoff Stainthorp and Paul Anderson.