Tarka Trail

The Tarka Trail

The Tarka Trail

Welcome to the Tarka Trail – 180 miles of discovery

Tarka Trail waymarker signInspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter from Henry Williamson’s famous 1927 novel, the Tarka Trail is a 180 mile, figure of eight walking and cycling route that traverses unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches enabling you to explore and experience the very best North Devon has to offer.

A brief overview of the Tarka Trail

Tarka Trail route map
  1. The starting point is Barnstaple where you head east following way marked footpaths
  2. Just after Simonsbath in Exmoor the trail joins the Two Moors Way travelling north
  3. At Lynton, join the South West Coast Path and head south
  4. The cycling section starts in Braunton, following an old railway line
  5. At Meeth (just outside of Okehampton) you pick up footpaths again, eventually turning North
  6. The last stage of the trail is to relax on the Tarka Line train service back into Barnstaple

Where does the Tarka Trail start?

The official starting point for the entire 180 mile loop is The Square in Barnstaple, just outside the Barnstaple museum of North Devon and the Albert Clock. The Square is situated at the north end of the old bridge.

Barnstaple Museum

For the North Loop travel east away from the town centre keeping the River Taw on your right-hand side as you walk through Rock Park.

Station Road BrauntonOf course, as the Tarka Trail is a figure eight, you can also access the start of the South Loop too. The start of the South Loop is sign posted and accessed at the south end of the old bridge. The path here skirts the perimeter of a retail park, then dips to cross under the new bridge. This path will also connect to Barnstaple railway station.

If you are just looking to cycle using the Tarka Trail Cycle Route, then to make the most of the 32 mile traffic free cycle path, you need to start off in Braunton. You can park in the villages main Caen car park, then head south along Station Road, where an old railway signal signals the start of the cycle path.

The Tarka Trail route in detail

The route

The Tarka Trail makes use of existing public footpaths and bridleways incorporating the South West Coast Path, The Two Moors Way and Routes 3 and 27 of the National Cycle Network.

It is a figure-eight loop centred in the historic market town of Barnstaple. Each loop would take several days to complete, but there are shorter sections or circular walks available all along the trail for day trips.

The southern loop of the Tarka Trail boasts one of the country’s longest, continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths along what was once a railway line. Perfect for family cycling and easy walks alongside the expansive saltmarsh, mudflats and sandbanks of the Taw/Torridge Estuary, bursting with wildlife and wonderful views.

The north loop heads inland along the tidal section of the River Taw. The Trail rises up through villages with cob and thatched cottages, passes remote farms and follows rocky, deep cut lanes and wooded valley paths until it reaches the high plateaus of Exmoor. At Lynmouth the Tarka Trail follows the South West Coast Path along cliff tops, visiting coastal towns and villages and crossing beaches before tracking back along the Taw estuary to Barnstaple.

The Tarka Trail features in a number of OS Explorer maps – 139, 126, 127, 113 and OL 9.



Find out more