- Distance: 99 miles
- Type: Traffic free sections and quiet roads
The route between Ilfracombe and Plymouth is 99 miles long, of which 71 miles are traffic-free. The route combines the beaches and estuaries of North Devon with the lush green valleys of the Torridge, the Tavy, the Walkham and other evocative West Country rivers. The route also skirts round the western flank of Dartmoor offering superb views of Cornwall and the surrounding area. There is also many local links and spurs to explore. Largely tracing the course of former railway lines, the route takes you through tunnels and across the breathtaking viaducts and bridges bequeathed by Victorian railway engineers.
Heading south from Ilfracombe there's a good traffic free section to set you on your way before joining quiet roads with great views south to Braunton. Here the route starts a 30 mile traffic free section on almost entirely level former railway lines beside the beautiful Taw and Torridge estuaries via Barnstaple, Bideford and Great Torrington to the villages of Petrockstowe and Meeth.
You travel further south to Okehampton on quiet roads, but between Okehampton and Lydford is largely traffic free and is known locally as the Granite Way. This section is mostly built along the course of the former Southern Region railway line. It's 11 miles between Okehampton and Lydford, travelling past Meldon Quarry. At Meldon Viaduct there is a railway station, visitor centre and café in the former buffet carriage, all run by Dartmoor Railway. You continue west towards Lake Viaduct, with the dramatic Sourton Tors clearly visible to the south. In Lydford the trail is on a minor road through the village past the Norman castle (English Heritage) and Lydford Gorge (National Trust).
Between Tavistock and Plymouth the Devon Coast to Coast route is known as the Drake's Trail. This has recently been developed in to a fully traffic-free stretch of National Cycle Route with the addition of the dizzying Gem Bridge. On arrival in Plymouth the route travels along the seafront, past the National Marine Aquarium and Tinside Lido - a fantastic sea water pool in an Art Deco style.
If you want to continue your journey, why not hop on the ferry at Plymouth and travel to Roscoff in France? Sustrans works in partnership with Cycle West for people wishing to cycle the National Cycle Network and travel further afield into France. Find out more information here: www.cycle-west.com
Things to see and do
- Dartmoor National Park
- Pannier Market, Great Torrington
- Gem Bridge.
Buy the Devon Coast to Coast map in our shop.
National Route 27 of the National Cycle Network is open and signed from Ilfracombe to Plymouth and is known as the Devon Coast to Coast cycle route.