Cheffy’s top 5 cycling routes in Devon
In my opinion there's no better way to explore Devon than on two wheels â that must be the Italian heritage in me!
The area is renowned for its unspoilt beauty, and the network of easily accessible cycle routes gives you a chance to explore it from your holiday homes in Devon.
So, if like me, your bike is first on the list for things to bring on your self catering Devon holiday, get prepared and take a look at my top 5 cycling routes in the county...
Tarka Trail â Braunton to Barnstaple
The Tarka Trail stretches over 32miles and is easily accessible from our North Devon holiday parks. The trail follows the journey of Tarka the Otter, made famous in Henry Williamson's classic tale.
The first stage is an easy flat cycle, so perfect for the whole family. The route takes you along the banks of the Taw and Torridge rivers and features scenic views across the estuary.
Near the start of the route you have the fantastico UNESCO Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve â a haven for birds, insects and rare flowers.
There is a welcome stop along the way at The Braunton Inn, and they serve Peroni!
Tarka Trail â Barnstaple to Bideford
The second stage of the Tarka Trail takes you 9 miles, from Barnstaple to Bideford.
Again the traffic-free stretch makes it a popular route for families staying at Devon caravan parks.
You can join the trail at Barnstaple railway station and take in interesting sculptures and sights over the Taw estuary before reaching Fremington Quay. Here you can stop for refreshments and enjoy a picnic with a view.
It's well worth making a short journey off the trail to visit Instow â jump off your bikes and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the charming beach. If you've worked up an appetite The Instow Arms is a great place to enjoy locally sourced and freshly cooked food.
Ilfracombe & Woolacombe Circular
This 15 mile scenic cycle consists of the former railway path from Ilfracombe to Willingcott and the National Trust coastal path beside the sea at Woolacombe. The remainder of the route treats you to traditional Devon lanes through quiet characteristic villages.
Starting in Ilfracombe you follow the 'Devon Coast to Coast' Route taking in the Landmark Theatre on your way out of the town. You'll need to tackle a couple of short climbs before joining the old railway path to Willingcott Cross.
From Willingcott follow the winding roads through the North Devon countryside until you reach Georgeham. A couple of country pubs, including The King's Arms, make Georgeham a great place to take a breather and refuel with some delicious home-made food.
The route from Georgeham to Woolacombe takes you along narrow country lanes until you reach a National Trust path which runs alongside the Sea. The views over the 7th best beach in Europe are truly stunning and it's the perfect place to set out a picnic, if you haven't stopped off already.
Dart Valley Cycleway via Totnes
The fascinating market town of Totnes, close to South Bay Holiday Park, hosts a route with 2 distinct rides.
The first is 4 miles from Totnes railway station to Hood Manor via Dartington. The cycle explores the picturesque banks of the River Dart, offers wonderful riverside scenes to the Dartington Cider Press Centre and excellent views towards Dartmoor approaching Hood Manor.
The second ride is 5 miles from Totnes to Ashprington via Sharpham Drive. Views of Totnes Norman Castle are a highlight of the early stage and a stop at the bustling Plains, next to the Totnes Bridge is a must. Sharpham Drive is strenuous at times but you're rewarded with amazing views of the river. Sharpham Manor's vineyard is open to the public and gives you a historic insight into the Estate.
NCN Route 277 â Exmoor National Park & Lynton
The National Cycle Network's Route 277 takes you through the Exmoor National Park and out to the coast at Lynton and Lynmouth.
Starting from the road between Hunters Inn and Martinhoe, the 13 mile route climbs steep roads through Exmoor National Park and past Lee Abbey into Lynton.
At the end of route 277 you're taken to the stunning Valley of the Rocks. The jagged cliffs and dramatic backdrop remind of a popular holiday destination in my native Italy, The Amalfi Coast.