Welcome to the Tarka Trail – 180 miles of discovery
Inspired 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.
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.
At a glance:
- 180 mile Tarka Trail
- North and south loops that take in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks and the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- 31 miles of shared-use section on a former railway line
- 18 miles of the Tarka Railway Line
- 55 miles shared with the South West Coast Path
- Perfect for day trips and longer stays with plenty of places to visit and things to do