The Tarka Trail is one of the country's longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths, and forms part of the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route.
Follow in Tarka’s footsteps
Inspired by Henry Williamson’s much loved novel ‘Tarka the Otter’, this 163 miles/261kms recreation route follows Tarka’s journey in a figure of eight, through the northern part of the county. The route can be followed on foot or by bike and is a fabulous way for the whole family to visit some of the places mentioned in the original novel.
The Trail takes you through an ever-changing variety of some of the wonderful Devon scenery described in the book, including tranquil countryside, wooded river valleys, rugged moorland and dramatic coast and is a wonderful and sustainable way to explore this area.
Comprehensively waymarked, the walk varies from easy to challenging and there are plenty of different routes for you to take making it a new adventure every single time. Short sections of the trail and circular walks from it are ideal for day and half-day excursions. The terrain is a mixture, with some challenging sections and some flat, off road sections, making it suitable for a wide range of visitors.
Where to pick up the route
The entire route is centered around the town of Barnstaple, the largest town in the region and takes in areas of Exmoor, the Valley of the Rocks and the coastline. If the town is mentioned in the book, you can likely access it along the trail as many of the locations featured in the original novel are real life places. You can pick up the route at various points across the county, the Trail passes through the towns of Lynmouth, Barnstaple, Bideford, Torrington, Okehampton and Ilfracombe and parts of it coincide with the South West Coast Path, the Two Moors Way and the Dartmoor Way, giving you plenty of chances to explore. There are also a number of short circular routes that are located alongside the main north and south Tarka Trail route which are designed to take a couple of hours, allowing you to explore the villages and points of interest along the trail while not spending all day.
The trail has a north loop that runs from Barnstaple through to the areas of Braunton, Croyde, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin and Lynmouth and then returning to Barnstaple.
Alternatively, the south loop runs from Barnstaple through to Bideford, where you can find Hatherleigh, Okehampton, North Tawnton and Eggesford. You can then return to Barnstaple using the Tarka Line train.
When planning a trip to the Tarka Trail, make sure to take note of the facilities along the route. You’ll find shops, restaurants, pubs and public toilets at all the towns and villages along the route as well as places to stay. Some of the towns also have defibrillators and access to health care professionals, should you need medical assistance during your visit.
Check the local listings for the public transport times for journeys along the Tarka Line.
For more information on the Tarka Trail, including maps, routes and the various points where you can join the trail, visit the official site, https://www.tarkatrail.org.uk/