The Devon Coast to Coast route provides a wonderful introduction to the sights of Devon, linking the beaches and estuaries of North Devon with the lush green valleys of South Devon. It uses old railway lines, small roads, tracks and paths along Rivers to provide a varied route that can be challenging and breathtaking.
Leaving Ilfracombe, the route travels south and takes you on a traffic-free path before joining quiet roads that provide superb views of Braunton. At Braunton, the route starts a 30-mile traffic-free section on low gradient tracks alomg the old railway lines beside the beautiful Taw and Torridge estuaries via Barnstaple, Bideford and Great Torrington to the villages of Petrockstowe and Meeth. This section of the route is known as the Tarka Trail and is perfect for families and less experienced cyclists.
Next you’ll head further south to Okehampton on quiet roads and tracks through Forest plantations but there is more climbing and care is needed, so better for experienced cyclists. Once Okehampton is reached, the route to Lydford is known as the Granite Way Trail, and this is mainly traffic-free through tunnels and across the breathtaking viaducts and bridges given to us by Victorian railway engineers. The route also skirts around the western flank of Dartmoor, offering superb views of the granite tors and high moors. After Lydford, the route returns to minor roads and tracks and some parts are less well-signed, passing Brentor, Mary Tavy before arriving in Tavistock.
Between Tavistock and Plymouth the Devon Coast to Coast route is known as the Drake’s Trail, a fully traffic-free stretch of National Cycle Route with the addition of the new Gem Bridge. On arrival in Plymouth the route travels along the seafront, past the National Marine Aquarium and Tinside Lido – a fantastic open-air seawater pool in Art Deco style.
The Devon Coast to Coast route also makes up part of the Velodyssey, an Anglo-French cycle route which continues down the West Coast of France to the Spanish border. This route uses the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry connection. It also forms part of the Tour de Manche route between Plymouth and Poole.
Distance: 97 miles
Difficulty: Easy to stenuous
Start: Ilfracombe or Barnstaple
Facilities along route:
- Car parking is available at Barnstaple Station, Okehampton Station, Lydford Gorge
- Accommodation at Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford, Hatherleigh, Okehampton, Tavistock and Plymouth.
- Cycle hire at Barnstaple, Bideford, Great Torrington, Okehampton.
Theme: Country, Heritage, Nature, Bird Watching
Style of route: Some traffic Free, off road section some unsurfaced sections and mainly gated. Much of the linking routes between the traffic-free sections are minor roads shared with local traffic.