The Tarka Trail is a series of footpaths and cyclepaths around north Devon, England that follow the route taken by Tarka the Otter in the book of that name. It is a figure-of-eight route, based on Barnstaple, and covers some 180 miles of path.
The route covers a wide variety of landscapes, including: wooded river valleys, rugged moorland, coastal cliffs and sandy bays. Walking varies between easy and strenuous, depending on the location, but, in general, it is comprehensively waymarked.
The trails are now a popular tourist destination and bicycle hire businesses are available for those who wish to cycle along suitable sections of the trail. A section of the Trail is part of National Cycle Network route number 27 and forms part of the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route , a 102-mile route from Ilfracombe, in the north, to Plymouth, in the south, largely using former railway lines.
Several sections of disused railway line have been utilised to create the trail. These have the benefit of being relatively flat, with only small uphill and downhill gradients. The paths also run across many former railway bridges, which command notable views over various rivers and valleys. A number of the stations on the route have been restored or rebuilt.
Former railway sections include:
Places of interest
Towns and villages
The Trail passes through numerous towns and villages, including:
A number of other local walking routes intersect or coincide with the Tarka Trail:
Using public transport for at least part of their journey means that walkers can plan walks which start and finish at different places, rather than have to circle back to their start point to collect their cars.
The Trail may be reached from stations on The Tarka Line
, the railway from Exeter
. Services to some stations are infrequent and at several the trains only stop on request.
Most towns and villages along the Tarka Trail have bus
services, although some of these may not be very frequent.