Tarka Trail

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The stunning route 27 Devon Coast to Coast cycle route

Okehampton Castle

A large section of the Tarka Trail makes use of NCN 27 (National Cycle Network Route 27) which is more commonly known as the Devon Coast to Coast cycle route. The Devon Coast to Coast, as the name suggests, is a cycle route that links Ilfracombe in the north of Devon with Plymouth in the south.

Following the Devon Coast to Coast, you will encounter a combination of road, bridleway and cycle paths whilst taking in some of the most breathtaking views the county has to offer. The majority of the route follows old, disused railways and access to the route is often via Station Road, regardless of which town you are in!

The route is approx 100 miles long and can be achieved within a day, but is often undertaken over two or even three days, depending on the rider’s ability, weather conditions and whether the rider chooses to stop to visit some of the towns, villages and beauty spots along the route.

The Coast to Coast route makes use of several existing trails, most of which are flat and traffic free including the Tarka Trail in North Devon, The Granite Way through North Dartmoor and Drake’s Trail between Tavistock and Plymouth.

OS Map of Devon Coast to Coast cycle route
Map of Devon Coast to Coast route from OS Maps

 

Ilfracome to Braunton

Distance: 9.4 miles, Est Time: 1 hr, Varying gradients but no steep sections. Off-road and on-road sections.

The Tarka Trail passing Slade Resevoir

The Devon Coast to Coast route starts in Ilfracombe on the North Devon Coast. Access is from Station Road on the site of the old railway station which is now a commercial complex. There is no parking around Station Road, but plenty of parking in and around Ilfracombe town centre. You may need a map or sat-nav to find your way to Station Road.

The first stretch is part of an old railway line which runs through wooded areas, under bridges and past the two reservoirs at Slade, eventually coming out at Woolacombe.

The next point on the route is Braunton. Reaching Braunton requires cycling on B roads which can be busy with traffic in the summer months and probably not suitable for family riding. Once in Braunton, locate Station road where you find the start of the 32 mile flat section of the Tarka Trail. This section is flat, tracked and largely traffic free making it ideal for family cycling.

Braunton to Okehampton

Distance: 45 miles, Est Time: 4 hours, Largely flat and easy riding, mostly off-road.

The Tarka Trail and River Taw near Barnstaple

This section will take you into and out of Barnstaple, through Bideford and Torrington and eventually on to East Yarde at which point, you have the choice of leaving the Tarka Trail and taking a quiet, but longer and hillier route through to Okehampton, or staying on the Tarka Trail to Meeth, then following a bridleway up to the busy A386 leading into Okehampton.

Okehampton to Lydford

Distance: 11 miles, Est time: 1hr 15mins, Larley flat and traffic free.

The Granite Way Okehampton Dartmoor

Cycle to the end of Station Road in Okehampton to be connected with The Granite Way – a spectacular 11 mile, mostly flat and mostly traffic free cycle path which works it way through north Dartmoor, crossing the stunning Meldon and Lake viaducts and eventually arriving in Lydford.

Lydford to Tavistock

Distance : 10 miles, Est time: 1hr, Mostly quiet B roads but does join the A386

After leaving Lydford, there are two possible route options, one east and one west of Tavistock. Both are using B roads and have sections of steep climbing. Both routes require joining the A386 on the final approach into Tavistock town centre.

Tavistock to Plymouth

Distance : 20 miles, Est Time: 2hrs,  Mostly traffic free and easy going with some steep climbs.

Drake's Trail Plymouth

From Tavistock you will follow Drake’s Trail which makes use of the established Plym Valley Trail. You can access this via St John’s Avenue, off Whitchurch Road.

Drakes trail is a shared use walking and cycling route and well signposted. Many sections have recently been upgraded for smooth cycling. Leaving Tavistock, it passes over iconic features such as The Gem bridge and through the Grenofen Tunnel.

On entering the city of Plymouth, the route switches to using roads which are often busy.

Further information

The stunning route 27 Devon Coast to Coast cycle route