Tarka Trail

Looking across River Torridge to Appledore, from the Tarka Trail, Instow, National Route 3Route Details

  • From - to: Braunton to Meeth via Barnstaple
  • Distance: Just over 30 miles
  • Type: Disused railway path
  • Access: Barnstaple railway station
  • Surface: Tarmac and finely packed stone

Route Description

This route gives you superb views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary and has several sculptures and shelters which are the perfect place to rest and enjoy the surroundings. There are also many wildlife habitats along the route including estuary mud flats and salt marshes, oak woodland, hazel coppice, hedges, ponds, streams, ditches and meadows.

The route is incredibly easy to follow and starts initially starts at the pretty village of Braunton.  The route is flat and traffic-free, making it very suitable for families. It runs along the banks of the River Taw passing through Chivenor, and crossing the tributary river Yeo on the new swing bridge at Barnstaple. A detour into Barnstaple town centre is a worthwhile visit, taking in the Pannier Market and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

The route then takes you up the Torridge Estuary, passing Instow and Bideford.  These are great places to stop off for refreshments with lots of cafes and restaurants.  Something not to miss is the Puffing Billy, a relaxed pub at the former Torrington railway station.  Its right on the Tarka Trail and the restored waiting room serves as the restaurant and there is also a goods brake van, coal truck and buffet carriage on a restored stretch of track.

You can either continue on the line of the old tramway route into the beautiful town of Great Torrington or turn across the river on the railway to Meeth. 

Further information is available on the Devon County Council website.

Art Trail

The Tarka Trail is one of Sustrans Art Trails. Along it you will beautifully designed benches and shelters by Katy Hallett, Ben May, John Butler, Geoff Stainthorp and Paul Anderson. More info...

Local attractions

Bike hire

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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.

30 miles