Accommodation: 4 star hotel in Barnstaple, 4 star boutique hotel in Tavistock and a castle in Cornwall. Accommodation for the two remaining nights is our B&B choice -a village inn. Dinner for 2 nights in Barnstaple is included.
Cycling mileage: 3 days of cycling. and 3 days of optional cycling 26 - 43 miles (42 - 69 km) per day.
Grade out of 5 based on distance and elevation: 5.
Terrain: A few slopes on most days.
Traffic free: 70%.
This stunning ride takes you from the north coast of both Cornwall and Devon to their respective southern shores. Riding from Ilfracombe to Plymouth across Devon and from Bude to Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, much of this spectacular route is on disused railway track taking you through tunnels and across breathtaking viaducts and bridges. Every day brings gorgeous scenery and grand views with a days' riding in Dartmoor National Park as a special highlight.
Enjoy sandy beaches, long estuaries and lush green valleys, peppered with characterful towns, and charming hamlets. With a magic of its own, the Cornish coast has dramatic inlets sheltered by cliffs in the north and well loved coves and beaches to the south. There are a few hills but much of this ride is traffic free as it slices through the countyide using the bike paths of the Tarka Trail, the Granite Way, Drakes Trail and the Plym Valley.
Additional nights enroute.
Take the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff and continue cycling the Velodyssey route in France.
Day 1: Arrive Barnstaple
Arrive in Barnstaple and make your way to your hotel which is located adjacent to the heart of this attractive town. Situated at the head of the Taw estuary, the town has a long and interesting history with plenty to explore. At a time to suit you make your way to our base close by in Barnstaple, which is open from 9.15 to 17.00 every day, to pick up your cycling equipment. Your host will meet you there, organise your bicycle and run through your itinerary.
Day 2: Barnstaple to Ilfracombe and back. Optional 36 miles (58 km).
This idyllic ride leads around the Taw estuary and takes you to the north Devon coastal resort of Ilfracombe. The route includes the steepest section of railway line in the UK, now a cycle path and a freewheel along the coast at Woolacombe sands where surfers gather. The estuary riding is traffic free and flat and with the wind in your hair, you can pedal along the waters edge and spot the wildlife. Return to Barnstaple for a second night at your hotel.
Day 3: Barnstaple to a North Devon Hamlet, 26 miles (42 km).
Most of today's ride follows the Tarka Trail and the course of an old railway line as it hugs the estuary to Bideford and then follows the River Torridge through scenic woodlands, over bridges and through cuttings and tunnels. Virtually traffic free, with just a couple of slopes towards the end of the day, the route includes marshlands, old quays, a beach great for a dip and welcoming cafes in old railway stations. It's worth a detour across the 14th Century bridge to explore Bideford whilst the characterful market town of Great Torrington also boasts the Dartington glass factory. It's a day packed with variety that ends with a warm welcome at your overnight inn nestled in a picturesque hamlet where you will spend the next two nights.
Day 4: A Circular Ride to Bude and back. Optional 43 miles (69 km).
Experience the typical rolling and peaceful rural landscapes of the area as you ride west from Devon into Cornwall and to the Atlantic coast at Bude. Follow swirling valleys, ride through stone built villages and stop in traditional market towns brushing woodlands and marshes, cliff tops and beaches. The ride has everything including the fascinating Cornish town of Bude. Enter along its canal, count its many beaches, dip into the saltwater swimming pool, smell the Atlantic sea and love its old charm and harbour. Pick up a postcard or two before wending your way back into Devon. What an exhilerating day!.
Day 5: A North Devon Hamlet to Tavistock, 34 miles (54 km).
Pedalling south towards Dartmoor, you are rewarded with amazing views and unexpected finds. We won't spill the beans but simply tempt you by mentioning market day, a pottery and a hidden gorge. Another old railway route leads you into Dartmoor National Park with 11 miles of traffic free cycling along The Granite Way. On this spectacular ride which includes the long Meldon Viaduct, the moor and the surrounding countryside are yours to savour. Tavistock where you will spend the next 2 nights, sits just off the moor and is a historic and unspoilt town where you may enjoy ambling among the specialist shops and the market stalls. Your hotel dates back to the 17th Century but has a modern twist.
Day 6: A Circular Ride on Dartmoor. Optional 30 miles (48 km).
Dartmoor is such a unique landscape that a days' riding here is a highlight. This vast moorland area is known for its hills or tors topped with craggy outcrops. Its an outstanding scene of grand views and majestic landscapes, bogs and streams, mines and lakes, forests and villages, myths and legends. Take in the odd famous film location, an old prison and a cosy pub or two before heading back into Tavistock.
Day 7: Tavistock to Saltash, 40 miles (64 km).
Leaving Tavistock behind your riding route to the south coast of Devon at Plymouth is almost all on a variety of disused railway tracks. Start in pretty wooded valleys and then freewheel through tunnels and viaducts down into Plymouth. This traffic free roll takes you right to the coast and around the famous Hoe in Plymouth where so many ships have passed in and out of this maritime city. Marvel at the view and then hop on the ferry, just open to hikers and bikers to cross into Cornwall. Enjoy the coast here- a long sandy bay, before pedalling inland along Cornish lanes. Often narrow, twisting and hilly, your route leads to a stunning castle for your final nights stay.
Day 8: Depart Saltash
Bid farewell to your steed and we will transfer you back to Barnstaple. If you are returning to London, the local station is a short train hop to Plymouth which is 3.5 hours by train to London.
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