Cycling is really beautiful in the area around the lodges at Braunton near to Saunton. If you come to visit then do bring your bike. We have maps at the lodges for all the cycle routes in the area, produced by http://croydecycle.co.uk/ . From level rides to the estuary or a challenging route to Woolacombe there is a satisfying collection of routes to keep you out and about.
You can ride on the Tarka Trail from Braunton near The Gallery Lodges; cycle to the beach; or head out into the rolling, rural lanes of North Devon and challenge yourself on National Cycle route 27.
Here we describe a level 20 minute route through the back lanes to join the Tarka Trail in Braunton:
The Tarka trail proper starts 1.4 miles from the Lodges but a beautiful stretch of country lanes link you to the trail at Vellator Quay in Braunton.
From the gates to the entrance of Pete Caswell’s Art studio and The Gallery Lodges, turn right and cycle down Moor Lane where you approach the dunes through quiet country lanes, with wheat and potato fields surrounding. Before you have even turned a pedal you pass on the right two SSSI reserves of ancient woodland and a special wetland habitat, Swan Pool Marsh.
To your left is Braunton Great Field, a medieval field system underlies this open area which is a bountiful vegetable field. You will skirt the edge of the great field all the way to the Tarka Trail.
Asparagus and market gardening dot the landscape and the sea air is bright and fresh. Dave the local farmer, opposite the Lodge’s entrance farms the asparagus and much of the amazing crops you see growing, including the swede for our Devon pasties.
At the end of Moor Lane turn a left onto Sandy Lane and head along more fields of asparagus and cauliflower with views of the dunes to the right. Depending on the time of year you might get treated to poppies and wild flowers in the fields or daffodils which line the hedges from when this area was a major daffodil growing land before the war.
The Braunton Burrows biosphere through which you cycle is a very special area of rare dune habitats and wet lands, profuse with wild flowers, orchids and many migrating wild birds. So on the way to the Tarka trail you might just want to stop off here. See extension notes below.
If you’re not detouring to Sandy Lane car park and the American Road, look out for the next left turn where the scenery begins to change again into wetlands and marshes which is Braunton Marshes. Swans, rare birds and yellow irises can often be seen here.
Keep going along this road. Look out to the right and you will see the toll road off to Crow point, another cycle ride for later on ( keep going straight on for the Tarka Trail).
At the end of the road you come to a roundabout. To your right you will see the Tarka Trail which will take you to Barnstaple past the pub on the estuary and a lovely garden centre. Please see our other Tarka Trail blog for more on this.
If you wish to return to the Lodges from here follow the cycle path by the pedestrian crossing lights back to the village car park and then join Saunton Road to return to The Gallery Lodges.
Extending your bike ride on The American Road:
To make a longer route, about an extra 30 minutes, and explore the area more, continue on Sandy Lane to the car park at the end.
Here you need to cycle straight on through to ‘The American Road’, so you will need to pass 2 big gates, often locked to stop cars. To do this turn left in the car park and cycle down the length of the car park next to the track, you will see that at the end you can go over a raised bank and nip back on the American Road (at the left hand corner.) A long straight stretch of un-surfaced, but level track leads you on towards Crow Point.
On this extended route you will cycle with the North Devon Biosphere sand dunes on your right, which are Europe’s biggest sand dune reserve. The fields of the Marshes are to your right. Look out for butterflies and bees – there are some rare finds to be had here.
Crow point and the estuary meet you at the end of the lane, with views towards Appledore and Instow and the Torridge Estuary. A few boats are moored here waiting for the tides to come in.
After admiring the views you need to find your way back to the track which will lead you to a car park and paved road. With your back to the estuary you need to cycle inland back the way you came, just a little (100m) and then look out for a right turn. There is also a white house at the start of the paved road, so aim for that.
Now you follow the road, coast path and the sea defences on a beautiful single track toll road back towards Braunton and Vellator Quay. It’s worth popping up onto the path here to look at the new Wetland area, which was farmland until recent sea breaches washed away the sluice gate. Don’t walk into this wetland though, it is tidal and unsafe.
At the end of the toll road take a right and you will pass Vellator Quay and arrive at a roundabout. This is the point you can join the Tarka Trail or head home. See above.
Bikes can be hired in Braunton & Barnstaple. We have free maps in the Lodges of the Tarka Trail and the local area for cycling, walking and exploring.