Discover the beauty and tranquillity of North Devon as you embark on an adventure along the Tarka Trail, a picturesque, traffic-free cycling and walking path inspired by the classic novel “Tarka the Otter” by Henry Williamson. Named after the beloved literary character, this delightful trail follows Tarka’s journey through the charming landscapes of North Devon, allowing you to explore the region’s stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse wildlife at your own pace.
Spanning an impressive 180 miles, the Tarka Trail is divided into a series of manageable circular routes and linear paths, catering to walkers and cyclists of all abilities. With a combination of disused railway lines, country lanes, and riverside paths, the Tarka Trail offers an accessible and enjoyable experience for the entire family.
Begin your adventure at the picturesque town of Barnstaple, where you can rent bicycles, grab a bite to eat, and learn about the Tarka Trail’s history at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. From here, follow the meandering River Taw and head south towards the idyllic village of Instow, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the estuary, watch the boats glide by, and indulge in a delicious Devon cream tea.
Continue your journey along the trail as it hugs the coastline of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Braunton Burrows, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and a testament to the region’s unique ecosystem. As you pass through the charming villages of Bideford and Torrington, be sure to stop at the Pannier Market or take a guided tour of the historic Bideford Railway Heritage Centre, where you can delve into the area’s rich industrial past.
For those seeking a more challenging route, venture inland through the dramatic landscapes of Exmoor National Park, where you’ll encounter steep climbs, rugged moorland, and sweeping vistas that will take your breath away. Along the way, explore the region’s unique heritage with a visit to the ancient village of Clovelly, the enchanting Valley of Rocks, or the historic market town of South Molton.
As you make your way along the Tarka Trail, be sure to keep an eye out for the diverse range of wildlife that calls this area home. From the elusive otters that inspired Henry Williamson’s novel to the majestic red deer of Exmoor, the Tarka Trail offers a unique opportunity to witness these creatures in their natural habitat. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for a spot of birdwatching, as the trail is home to an array of bird species, such as kingfishers, buzzards, and the elusive marsh harrier.
Whether you’re an experienced cyclist, a casual walker, or simply seeking a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Tarka Trail promises an unforgettable adventure through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in North Devon. With an abundance of charming villages, welcoming pubs, and local attractions along the way, there’s always something new to discover on this enchanting journey through the heart of Tarka Country.
So, lace up your walking boots or hop on your bike and experience the magic of the Tarka Trail for yourself, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of North Devon and follow in the footsteps of Tarka the Otter, as you uncover the region’s hidden treasures and captivating charm on this unforgettable journey through the diverse landscapes, rich history, and abundant wildlife that make the Tarka Trail truly one-of-a-kind.
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