THE TARKA TRAIL is over 30 miles long. This is cycling at its easiest with Barnstaple, Bideford and Torrington on route, towns and coastline easy to stop and enjoy. Meandering along the Torridge valley, Yarde comes next and Meeth Nature Reserve is the southern end of the Tarka Trail.
DARTMOOR FOLLOWS after passing through Okehampton, the route's half way point. A steep climb takes you from the centre to Okehampton train station where the "The Polar Express" and pleasant cafe reside. The Granite Way, still on NCN27 takes you on an easy ride to Lydford using an old railway line. Lydford is worth a stop to see two old castles, a mint, a gorge, a farm shop and two pubs. South of Lydford and just before the Mucky Duck (now housing, once a pub), NCN27 divides.
THE MORE INTERESTING is to turn left and follow a track to a gate onto the moor. Here the NCN sign has disintegrated but turn right and cycle across the moor where a stony track will be found after about 600 metres. It is suited to bikes with cross country tyres. This is a beautiful part of the moor. Rejoin NCN27 through Mary Tavy to Peter Tavy (more pubs on route).
TURN LEFT ON NCN274 and enjoy the moors all the way to Ivybridge. Much of this is very quiet with few places to stop. You must turn left again to join NCN272 at Clearbrook.
THE FINAL STRETCH TO SALCOMBE is 20 miles across the fertile South Hams, a rich farmland full of hedgerows, hidden river valleys and ancient woods. The coast joins us as we head south first at South Milton, then at Salcombe itself. NCN28 starts at Ivybridge Rugby Club and neatly avoids the main road but it is hilly in places.
WHETHER IT IS A CREAM TEA, pasty or large glass of west country cider, it will have been earned with this trip. Of course, you could carry on across the ferry to East Portlemouth, Slapton sands and join the valley of the River Dart to Totnes, all on NCN28