The Tarka trail from Braunton to Instow and back. About a 20 mile round trip, or just 10 miles if you just go to Barnstaple and back. You can extend this trail with options at both ends. At the Braunton end you can add in Crow point if you are on mountain bikes setting off from the Gallery Lodges at Braunton, or just take the scenic route to the start of the Tarka trail through the Braunton Marshes and UNESCO biosphere reserve.
This route for the Tarka trail is from staying at The Gallery Lodges Braunton. https://thegallerylodges.petecaswell.co.uk/
Do bring bikes as this area has some excellent rides. But here is the Bike hire 20 min walk away if you need it. Otter cycle Hire phone number 01271 813339 near the start of the Tarka trail.
What a treat this trail is and this has been made all the better with a plethora of tempting food options along the way. You follow the estuary for nearly all of the trip and catch stunning views and spot all the estuary bird life.
Starting at The Gallery Lodges you head to the start of the Tarka trail about 1/2 mile or 1.5 miles via the scenic route or approx 3miles via Crow Point. Then along the first section of the trail about 2 miles in you come to the first breakfast stop at the Waterside Cafe with great views down the Estuary to Barnstaple. Then just metres on from there there is the Braunton Inn which you should bear in mind for the way back for a celebratory beer and wine with a stunning panoramic view over the estuary (Or Thursday and Fridays at the Waterside cafe).
3 or so more miles and you head over the new bridge or detour into Barnstaple. In Barnstaple there are such a range of food outlets that there is not enough space to cover them. but the cafe at the railway (cheap and simple) is on the trail, Fat Belly Freds (interesting sea food) & Tea by the Taw are interesting options.
For those of you on the long route you should head across the new bridge and on towards Instow. Next Tea stop is at Fremington Key which is pretty busy so if there is no room here head on, if your legs will cope, to Instow.
Instow is a bit of a jewel in the Tarka trail and has a great number of pubs, restaurants and great estuary views.
Check out the most scenic cricket ground in the world and The Oyster Shack for some Caribbean vibes and seafood. In Instow itself Johns Deli and cafe is a real treat with all sorts of fresh backed goodies, cakes, bread and some rather special boutique Gins. Don’t forget to save the GIn for when you have got back to Braunton!
For those of you with steam left there is an optional extension onto Bideford and Appledore by trail and road. And tide and weather dependent is a rather amazing ferry from Appledore back to Instow.
Westward hoe further around while not an amazing scenic beauty is getting some great restaurants with on of my favourite Thai restaurants locating here.
For the super fit you can carry on up the trail to Meeth and Torrington.