If you’re planning to be more active this year, take a look at these scenic cycle routes where you can enjoy some incredible views and feel more active.
Exe Valley cycle route
This is one of the most popular routes for cyclists and for good reasons, there are a host of paths and lanes for you to choose from, making it a great choice for a variety users. Whether you’re a confident rider or someone who has only recently taken up cycling, you can find a pathway that suits you.
If you plan on doing the whole path, it’s 24 miles and does feature some sections that are more challenging than others, however you do get to see some beautiful villages, a National Trust estate and plenty of open countryside. Plus there are a host of pubs and cafes along the route for you to stop off for refreshments and Exmouth, at one end of the path has companies offering bike hire for anyone who doesn’t fancy bringing their own.
Totnes to South Hams
This route features several quiet country lanes so is a good one for anyone wanting a peaceful day out. It starts and finishes at Totnes, where you can enjoy the quirky town centre and a range of eateries and takes you into the South Hams region of Devon which is known for being picturesque. The route is around 19 miles and follows the National Cycle Route 2 towards Dartington Hall before leading you along the River Harbourne. You will also pass Sharpham House and the River Dart.
This route is one that can get quite muddy in bad weather, so make sure to wear appropriate shoes and to make allowances in case you get held up because of diversions. Again, if you want to hire bikes or need an adapted bike, there are places around Totnes which hire out bikes. As it is a town that is big on sustainability and eco transport, there are plenty of ways you can get use out of your bikes before you have to return them too!
Dartmoor – Stover Trail
There are loads of opportunities for cycling on Dartmoor and plenty of places to pick up any equipment that you might need. It’s also very pretty, so is a great option for anyone wanting a scenic route. One of the routes that takes in Dartmoor is the Stover Trail which is mostly traffic free and links Newton Abbot with Bovey Tracey along a former canal route. It also follows part of National Cycle Route 272 where you will have a chance to enjoy views like Haytor, Widdecombe and parts of the Teign Valley. The route starts and ends at Newton Abbot which is easily accessible by train and as you might expect, there are plenty of traditional pubs dotted around the length of the route for anyone wanting refreshments.
Dartmoor’s visitor centre will also be able to advise you on hiring bikes and trampers – an all terrain wheelchair. Parts of Dartmoor have been adapted to make the routes and pathways more accessible, so whether you are visiting with children or are less mobile, you can still enjoy the sights that Dartmoor has to offer.
Exmoor – via Barnstaple
We can’t mention one of the region’s National Parks without mentioning the other! Exmoor is also awash with beautiful views but is also one of the more steeper places in the county, so you may find that some of the routes are more challenging here. There is a route that follows the National Cycle Route 3 which begins and ends in Barnstaple and is particularly challenging. The route will take you from sea level up towards Bratton Fleming where you will ascend steeply but will have some spectacular views.
In the more built up areas like Barnstaple, you can easily find places to rest, refuel and even borrow bikes or other equipment that you might need. Though not as common, there are several lovely places to stop for a bite to eat around Exmoor too.
Also located around Barnstaple is the Tarka Trail which was named for the otter, Tarka in Henry Williamson’s book. It follows the same route that the otter himself took during the story and passes through woodland, rivers, moors and dramatic cliffs. Depending how long you want to spend on your bikes, there are several routes to choose from, with the North Loop taking you onto Exmoor where you can enjoy coastal views and scenery like the Valley of Rocks. The southern loop takes you on a riverside track towards Dartmoor before bringing you back to Barnstaple. There are several small circular trails off of both loops for you to choose from that will also give you a chance to explore North Devon’s villages.
Between Braunton and Meeth the section is completely flat and tarmacked and provides 30 miles of traffic free cycling and there are also sections that cross with the National Cycle Network. Because it is such a popular spot for cycling, you’ll find that there are plenty of places you can hire bikes or have yours serviced.