That made me wonder about my own list. I decided this would involve longer routes that would make complete staycation holidays in their own right, and I would spread them wide around the UK. So here goes:
There is no doubt that cycling in Devon can be a joy.
The county has some fabulous cycle routes, taking in the South Devon coast with its estuaries, beaches and resorts and the North Devon coast with its coves and hills and of course more beaches.
Then there are the cycling and mountain-biking / off-road possibilities on or around Dartmoor and Exmoor.
Devon’s cycle routes include shorter and medium-length circular routes, whether family rides or more challenging ones, as well as long-distance signed Sustrans routes for cycle touring.
Below you will find sections on different aspects of cycling in Devon:
Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
Gentle / family bike rides
Circular cycle tours
Guide books and maps for cycle touring
Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
Cycling maps and guide books
There are excellent maps and guide books to those routes as well, with maps from Goldeneye Maps, Cycle Maps UK, Ordnance Survey (the OS Tour series), Harvey Maps and plus guide books for the Devon Coast to Coast cycle route.
All the maps are listed at the bottom of the page here, or you can click on a green link to go direct to them in the Bike Ride Maps shop.
So whether you are local to Devon, or planning a cycling holiday in Devon, I hope the following helps.
Park at Plym Valley Railway and cycle north along Drake’s Trail.
The very gently climbing route follows disused a railway line as far as the hamlet of Clearbrook, about 6 miles, taking in viaducts and tunnels along the way. Younger families may choose to turn around at this point.
Beyond Clearbrook, there are short sections on the road to Yelverton and beyond to Tavistock. The town of Tavistock has lots of interest, so make time to stop and wander around. Plenty of tea shops as well…
Tavistock also makes an excellent cycling hub as well, if you are looking for somewhere to stay over and have a range of cycling routes on the doorstep, plus of course walks on Dartmoor. (See cycling hub suggestions below).
If you are cycling from Barnstaple, signs take you beyond the roads around the town and quickly onto the old railway line / now cycleway that parallels the estuary of the River Taw. It’s very easy and pleasant cycling.
At the village of Instow the Taw meets the estuary of the Torridge, and across the far side you will see Appledore. Carry on and you come to Bideford’s village east of the Torridge: East-the-Water. For those wanting a short ride, you can walk across to Bideford’s town centre just on the far side of the bridge (note – this is the second bridge you come to, not the first, which is the main A39).
After Bideford, the estuary turns into river, with the Tarka Trail criss-crossing through lovely countryside perfect for otters (after all, the route is named after Tarka the Otter, written and set just here).
Just short of Great Torrington is a café as part of the old railway station, which can be a good place for a break before the return journey. Great Torrington itself is up a very considerable hill, a nice place, but you will need good lungs going up.
The return journey to Barnstaple is just as pleasant. Look out for otters…
Of course, you can also cycle the other way out of Barnstaple. Five miles away, hugging the northern side of the Taw estuary, the cycleway leads to Braunton,
The routes are marked on Goldeneye’s robust waterproof map and have brief descriptions of the type route. For example, from Ivybridge there is the “Southern Edge of Dartmoor“, 29Km/18miles through South Brent, Avonwick, Ugborough and back to Ivybridge. “A quiet route with long, easy sections between few steep climbs.” The mapping is very clear and easy to follow.
The distances are 13 to 25 miles, but you can also join routes together to create longer ones.
So as not to be too bulky, one side has south Devon and the southern half of Dartmoor, while the other side has the northern half.
Circular day rides in North Devon and around Exmoor
The Devon C2C cycle route is one of the best fully signed Sustrans National Cycle Network routes.
At 99 miles, it is normally ridden over two or three days, though side trips to Dartmoor or Sir Francis Drake’s house can make for a longer journey.
It starts at Ilfracombe on Devon’s gorgeous north coast with some up and overs to Barnstaple.
From there it follows the Tarka Trail inland and then the Granite Way from Okehampton to Lydford on to the fringes of Dartmoor. At Tavistock the route joins Drake’s Trail (above) gently dropping towards Plymouth.
Much of the route is on disused railway lines, so the gradients are generally very kind.
The end of the Devon C2C is on the iconic Plymouth Hoe.
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