Tarka Trail walking route

About this route

Inspired by Henry Williamson’s much loved novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ which was based on real places, this 163 miles/261kms recreation route follows Tarka’s journeys, in a figure of eight, through the northern part of the county, designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve.

The Trail takes you through an ever-changing variety of some of the wonderful Devon scenery described in the book, including tranquil countryside, wooded river valleys, rugged moorland and dramatic coast and is a wonderful and sustainable way to explore this area.

Comprehensively waymarked, the walk varies from easy to challenging. Short sections of the trail and circular walks from it are ideal for day and half-day excursions.

The Trail passes through the towns of Lynmouth, Barnstaple, Bideford, Torrington, Okehampton and Ilfracombe and parts of it coincide with the South West Coast Path, the Two Moors Way and the Dartmoor Way.

Getting Around

The trail has both a north loop running from Barnstaple through Braunton, Croyde, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin and Lynmouth, returning to Barnstaple. The south loop runs from Barnstaple through Bideford, Hatherleigh, Okehampton, North Tawton and Eggesford, using the Tarka Line train to return you to Barnstaple. It is possible to start and finish your walk at a number of different points along the route. For details of public transport times see Travel Devon.

Barnstaple, Braunton, Croyde, Woolacombe, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Lynton, Bideford, Hatherleigh, Okehampton and Eggesford have all facilities.
Ranging from easy to challenging with flat, off road sections.
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Interesting information

The  31 mile stretch between Meeth and Braunton runs along the line of an old railway, and is part of the National Cycle Network (Routes 27 Devon Coast to Coast and 3 West Country Way) and is one of the country’s longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths.  The route is very easy to follow and starts initially at the pretty village of Braunton.  Between Barnstaple and Meeth the route is surfaced and suitable for all users including wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Along this stretch, interpretation boards, audio points and other information help you discover the heritage, culture and natural features you can see.

There are many valuable habitats alongside this section of the Tarka Trail including estuary mud flats and salt marsh, oak woodland, hazel coppice, hedges, ponds, streams, ditches, meadows and Culm grasslands.

A few miles south of Petrockstowe Halt, Devon Wildlife Trust has opened Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve to the public.  This new and exciting reserve can be accessed directly from the Trail.


You can explore more in this area


Ernest Bassett Walk

Ernest Basset was an Okehampton man and a lover of Dartmoor.  He appreciated it in all its moods, but also realised…


Ernest Bassett Walk

Ernest Basset was an Okehampton man and a lover of Dartmoor.  He appreciated it in all its moods, but also realised…