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Tarka Trail

Tarka the Otter from Henry Williamson's 1927 novel Tarka the Otter

Located in North Devon the Tarka Trail is a series of footpaths and cycle trails that follow the route taken Henry Williamson's book, "Tarka the Otter". The trail covers a total of 180 miles and starts from Braunton and runs its way to Meeth via Barnstaple in a figure of eight design. It is one of the country’s longest traffic-free walking and cycle paths.

It was originally set up in 1987 as the Taw/Torridge Country Park using the old railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford; following this further work was done on other disused railways to extend the trail and it was eventually completed and opened by Prince Charles in 1992.

Cycling trail in Devon Family cycling in Devon
The Tarka Trail passes through various towns including Lynmouth, Barnstaple, Bideford, Torrington, Okehampton and Ilfracombe. Some part of it also coincides with Dartmoor Way, the Two Moors Way and the South West Coast Path. Over 30 miles of the Tarka Trail is a cycle path and is in between Brauton and Meeth and forms part of the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route which is a 102 mile route from Illfracombe to Plymouth and largely makes use of former railway lines.

Throughout the route there are various landscapes to explore including rugged moorland, wooden valleys, coastal cliffs and sandy bay, with many opportunities to take in the views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary. Much of it is flat making it suitable for families and although there are some more strenuous sections, there are plenty of shelters and resting places along the way.