The trail takes its name from its connection with the famous Elizabethan seafarer, Sir Francis Drake. He was born in Tavistock and there is a statue of him at Plymouth Hoe.
This brilliant route starts at Laira Bridge in Plymouth, crossing the Plym Estuary for great views over the sparkling water and marina. The path gently undulates beside the River Plym in the opening miles, with water and wet meadows stretching out to one side, and beautiful deep woodland to the other. The National Trust’s Saltram Estate makes a great early stop, with Plymouth still visible across the water and a magnificent Georgian mansion house within the rolling parkland.
The trail then takes you through Plymbridge Woods and out over the Cann Viaduct. More views and viaducts follow, with the Devonshire villages of Bickleigh and Shaugh Prior visible on the hillsides and your first glimpses of Dartmoor’s open moorland.
At Yelverton you start a gentle descent that leads all the way to Magpie Viaduct, a magnificent structure where there are raised viewing spots for taking a good look across Dartmoor. From here you descend steadily to reach Gem Bridge, one of the most remarkable features of the ride. From a distance, it looks like a spider’s web spun across the treetops, while from the centre there are lovely views across the steep, wooded valley down to the River Walkham.
From here you reach the edge of Tavistock via the town’s pretty riverside meadows. People who prefer to cycle shorter distances may choose to turn this ride into a two-day trip by spending a night in Tavistock, and returning to Plymouth the following day. Tavistock has a handsome Town Hall in the square, and the Tavistock Pannier Market is definitely worth a browse.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.