Devon is a famously beautiful part of the UK, but North Devon, in particular, is known for its sandy beaches, gorgeous coastlines, and rolling hills.
North Devon’s various cities, towns and villages have always been popular tourist destinations and holiday hotspots. For UK holiday-goers, you could say the region has somewhat of an ‘abroad at home’ feel to it.
There are many cycle routes in North Devon, too, which makes it an ideal spot for a cycling holiday. So, we’ve got you covered if you’re planning a getaway with wheels sometime soon.
Here are 5 cycle routes in North Devon you need to check out.
Distance: 180 miles (total)
The Tarka Trail is the UK’s longest, continuous, traffic-free cycle path and is arguably the best way to see North Devon in all its glory. The route is a figure-eight loop inspired by the journey taken by Tarka the Otter in Henry Williamson’s 1927 novel of the same name.
At a total of 180 miles in full, the Tarka Trail is a must for North Devon cyclists and walkers. Depending on how far you intend to cycle, the route is best tackled in stages over a few days.
The official Tarka Trail starting point is in Barnstaple. However, the Trail forms part of Route 27 (also known as the ‘Devon Coast to Coast’) on the National Cycle Network, and many cyclists choose just to ride this 32-mile section from Braunton to Meeth via Barnstaple instead.
Cyclists can enjoy some of North Devon’s most excellent market and coastal towns along the Tarka Trail, as well as some amazing views across the Taw Estuary.
Braunton, Barnstaple, Bideford and Great Torrington, in particular, offer great variety, while multiple villages with cute pubs, cafes and B&Bs surround the main cycle route.
Related: A complete guide to the Tarka Trail
Barnstaple to Tiverton
Distance: 47 miles
route 3 on the National Cycle Network is a long-distance (328 miles, to be exact) trail connecting Land’s End in Cornwall to Bristol via Devon and Somerset.
The 47-mile section between Barnstaple and Tiverton, in particular, is one of the best cycle routes (starting) in North Devon. The route begins with a nice weave along the River Taw before heading into Exmoor National Parkwhere the famous River Exe rises.
Exmoor is the perfect place to spot some of the region’s unique wildlife, including red deer and the famous Exmoor ponies, native to the park.
From here, the route follows the road down through the small town of Bampton and on into Tiverton—famous for its romantic castles, houses, and fascinating historical heritage.
Ilfracombe to Minehead
Distance: 39 miles
Several cycle routes in North Devon pass through the popular seaside resort of Ilfracombe—one is the 39-miler heading east to Minehead, another popular coastal town.
This particular route treats cyclists to a gorgeous variety of views across Combe Martin Bay and Woody Bay before arriving in Lynton, where a pretty harbor awaits.
From here, cyclists continue heading east towards Porlock, enjoying more views along the East Lyn River and Porlock Bay on arrival in the village. Although much of the route is on country lanes, there are several off-road sections, and some pretty testing climbs along the way.
The Exmoor Owl & Wildlife Sanctuary in Allerford is also a worthy stop-off en-route before more country lanes and the official finishing point at Minehead train station.
Related: Wildlife on Exmoor
Woolacombe to Croyde
Distance: 4 miles
Woolacombe to Croyde is a short but fulfilling cycle route that starts at marine drive car park before weaving through the silky sand dunes of Woolacombe Beach.
You’re likely to spot the North Devon RedCattle among the dunes—a native breed from the West Country. They’re there primarily to help improve habitat biodiversity and are ever-so-friendly, so do stop and say hello if you spot them.
From Woolacombe Beach, cyclists head towards Putsborough and then on to the village of Croyde. As with pretty much all the cycle routes in North Devon, there are some spectacular views on the journey from Woolacombe to Croyde.
Croyde is another one of the region’s most popular seaside locations, earning itself the nickname ‘Chelsea-by-Sea’ thanks to the affluence of the tourists it attracts. It also has one of the UK’s finest surfing beaches, if that’s also your thing.
Related: Things to do in Croyde
Distance: 20 miles
The Braunton Loop also starts in Woolacombe before heading towards Georgeham, Saunton, and the by now familiar sights of Croyde.
This route features a good mix of slow uphill climbs with an elevation of up to 600ft with some stunning views on the descent into Braunton.
Braunton itself is great for cycling. There are many quiet, rural lanes which are safe and suitable for all ages and abilities.
From here, cyclists head north in the direction of Knowle and on into Mullacott before completing the loop back at the starting point in Woolacombe.
Be aware—you’ll need a good base fitness level to conquer the Braunton Loop climbs, but it’ll be well worth your toil.
Heading to North Devon to take on one of these routes? You might also want to consider getting cycling insurance to protect yourself.
With Cycleplan, specialist cycling insurance is designed to cover a wide range of bikes, so whatever it is you own, you’re in the right place.
Policies with Cycleplan protect both you and your bike, with Personal Accident cover as well as protection from theft, loss, and damage. You can also choose to include Public Liability on your policy to cover any potential legal fees should you injure someone or damage property on a ride.
Learn more about specialist cycling insurance and get an online quote today.
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