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Cycle this idyllic, 102-mile Devon Coast-to-Coast route through wonderfully varied and verdant countryside. From Ilfracombe we ride past the beaches and estuaries of north Devon to join the stunning Tarka Trail for traffic-free cycling through lush green West Country valleys. We skirt the western flank of Dartmoor, cycling through secluded valleys, across viaducts and bridges before descending into Plymouth.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
The trip starts at Tiverton Parkway Train Station at 11am. Parking is at the long stay car park at the railway station for the trip duration (approx. £30). We drive for about an hour to the seaside resort of Ilfracombe, on the North Devon coast, in time for lunch. After unloading and assigning the bikes, there will be time to get comfortable and make any necessary adjustments.
Clear and detailed instructions on the cycle route we follow will be given by the tour leader throughout the trip, which means you can cycle at your own pace, either individually or with other group members. GPX tracks are available, if you want to download these onto your own device please request from the Leader. Our local Leader will drive the support vehicle with the luggage and a bike trailer, and will meet us at various points during each ride to help support the ride, ensure all runs smoothly and that you enjoy your trip.
With our lungs filled with fresh, coastal air, we cycle in the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty past the famous surf beach of Woolacombe, taking a scenic detour from the classic NCN route 27. At Braunton we leave the AONB and join the Tarka Trail - a 30-mile traffic-free section built on the almost entirely flat former railway line. Finally, we reach our hotel for the night in Barnstaple.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 32 kilometres/19.8 miles (total 410m/1345ft ascent and descent).
The Royal and Fortesque Hotel (or similar)
We cycle from our hotel after breakfast and soon rejoin the Tarka Trail. Named after Henry Williamson's 1927 novel, Tarka the Otter, we follow this path alongside the expansive saltmarsh, mudflats and sandbanks of the stunning Taw and Torridge estuaries. From the old port town of Bideford the Trail heads inland, leaving the wide rivers and estuaries behind, and follows streams through woodlands and grassland to Great Torrington, before stopping at a quirky railway station turned cafe for lunch. We rejoin the Tarka Trail in the afternoon, tracing along converted railway lines, until its end in Meeth. Now on quiet roads we cycle a short distance to our hotel in one of Devon's smallest but no doubt liveliest towns, Hatherleigh, for a well-deserved pint, fresh local food and welcome rest.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 52 kilometres/32.2 miles (total 605m/1985ft ascent and 490m/1610ft descent).
The George Inn (or similar)
We continue our route south, cycling on quiet country roads until we reach Okehampton where we join the Granite Trail - a mostly traffic-free cycle route that runs eleven miles through rural Devon with fantastic views of Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside. Look out for the impressive Victorian era Meldon Viaduct. The Granite Trail ends at Lydford Gorge and you have the opportunity to explore the gorge on foot before lunch. In the afternoon, we continue our route, now cycling on quiet roads, hugging the edge of Dartmoor. In Brentor there is the chance to walk up to the tiny church perched on top of a small tor for views. We then reach the ancient stannary and market town of Tavistock. This world heritage town claims to have invented the Cream Tea!
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 42 kilometres/26 miles (total 615m/2020ft ascent and 550m/1805ft descent)
The Bedford Hotel (or similar)
Our final day on the Devon Coast to Coast will be biking down the 21-mile, traffic-free Drake's Trail into Plymouth, descending towards the Royal Citadel on downhill gravel trails. This walking and cycling trail runs through superb countryside with attractive scenery, through wooded river valleys and across open moorland. There is a steep and uneven section just south of Clearbrook where you may prefer to walk for a few hundred metres. Finally we reach the end of your coast-to-coast cycle at Tinside, where you have the opportunity for a dip in the iconic Art Deco seawater lido or in the south coast Devon sea. From here, we drive back to Tiverton Parkway Train Station (aiming to be there by 4pm) or say goodbye to those that want to leave at Plymouth Railway Station.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres/21.7 miles (total 380m/1250ft ascent and 460m/1510ft descent).
Total distance : 161 kilometres
The UK has a temperate but very variable climate. In general the summers are warm with July and August being the warmest. The winters are cool and the lowest temperatures are recorded during January and February. Whatever the season it is advisable to be prepared for rain!
3 Pin Flat
Plymouth Tinside Lido - approx £5
Light rainwear may be needed at any time of year, and a warm fleece/jacket is recommended for cooler evenings and nights. Other additions that you may find useful are cycle gloves, padded cycling shorts and a gel seat cover.
If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.
We recommend you bring a daypack and one main piece of luggage (total allowance: 44lb/20kg) which will be transported between hotels while you cycle. Check the bike details section to see if a pannier or handlebar bag is provided on the bike.
On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn. Cycle glasses to protect against dust, pollen and the sun, padded cycle gloves and a water bottle or water delivery system (e.g. camelback or platypus) are also useful. You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. If a handle bar bag or pannier is not provided (check bike details) then you may like to bring a small rucksack to wear while cycling. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent.
This trip starts and ends at Tiverton Parkway Train Station. The cycle journey ends at Plymouth and you may choose to end your trip at the train station there instead. Parking is at the long stay car park at the railway station for the trip duration (approx. £30). If you are arriving from overseas the closest airport is Exeter, which is an hour taxi ride from the starting point of this trip. Alternatively, if you fly to London Heathrow, catch the Heathrow Express train to London Paddington Railway Station, where it's a 2-hour direct train ride to Tiverton Parkway Station. As this tour starts and ends at Tiverton Parkway Train Station you can return to London Paddington on the direct train at the end of the trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
UK: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.