Probably one of the most stunning coastal cycle rides in England. You can start the ride at the Hunters Inn at Heddon Valley in Exmoor National Park.
You can extend this ride by starting at Combe Martin, Ilfracombe or for really long ride from The Gallery Lodges at Braunton.
Starting at The Hunters Inn you may need a stiff drink to tackle the steep climb out of the valley. To avoid this park at the parking areas nearer to Lynton.
Once you have climbed the hill through the woods you get great views across the hill tops to the coast
Soon you reach the coast and the stunning vistas begin of the amazing North Coast.
Woody bay is a fun detour if it s hot for a swim, or hang on for Lee Bay further on.
The descent down to Lee Bay near Lynton (not the one near Wolacombe which is a great ride also) is a real treat and if like me the main focus on the trip is a great cafe don’t rely on the beautiful cafe at Lee Bay. They have quite a short season. But don’t worry there is a more reliable cafe just a mile up the next hill with a lovely garden with large portions of pudding pies.
Once down in Lee Bay climb up through the Valley of the Rocks past the Lee Abbey Christian retreat, probably the most scenic place to try your hand at some religious pursuits.
At Lynton check out the historic cliff railway and if you need to stretch your legs further descend the steep road into Lynmouth.
The way back is a real treat as from Woody Bay you take the old Victorian Carriageway which hugs the cliffs and bluffs all the way back to the pub at Heddon Valley.
From Heddon Valley there is also the stunning short walk out to Heddon’s Mouth Cove.
If you get it all right you get your rewards right here at the splendor of the Victorian Era Hunters Inn, which together with the Victorian Carriageway and Woody Bay formed the start of a very ambitious Victorian Holiday Resort to rival Ilfracombe.
Cycle ride starts at The Gallery Lodges and climbs over the tops through the back lanes into the views open up over the ocean.
Then the stunning drop down into Woolacombe. High speed and great fun but be careful. Then stop for a tea in Woolacombe or head back to Putsborough.
Extensions to this ride, from Woolacombe could go further North up to Mortehoe, Lee Bay, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin and back via Mullacott Cross then taking the long downhill all the way back to Braunton. Feeling fit then follow the coast road on the North Coast right up to Lynton, what a stunner, but a lot of ups and downs and a long way.
You can just about do this trail on a road bike but needs care and less speed. Stone trail pictured here, you need to go on the edge to avoid the bumpiest stones.
Heading up towards Putsborough.Trail gets a bit narrower here. After heavy rain could be tricky on your road bike, but I’ve done it. Worth it for the views.
Hang around at the beach cafe for the inevitable sunset at Putsborough. Paintings of these Putsborough sunsets at www.petecaswell.co.uk
If you come on another day it might look like this.
You could come back with your surf board and surf this magical beach the next day. Avoid bank holidays and busy weekends as the traffic can be a killer on the narrow lane access.
See if you can find this photo in the paintings below.
Take a look at all the paintings by Pete Caswell of this route by Pete Caswell on www.petecaswell.co.uk
See more paintings of Putsborough and Woolacombe at www.petecaswell.co.uk
Take a short trip to the Braunton Burrows when you stay at The Gallery Lodges.
We have free maps of this area in the lodges so you can explore it all.
One of the largest sand dune areas in Europe and a Unesco Biosphere reserve, its really worth a visit.
You can walk, cycle or drive to the start where there is a reasonably priced car park, about 1.5 miles away.
Take a walk from the car park and walk to a deserted stretch of saunton sands beach or do a loop to Crow Point. On the way – wild flowers, water slacks, WW2 relics from the DDay landings and the odd real life army excersize.
The area is home to a large number of resident and migratory birds along with the estuary. It is a superb place to bird-spot and hear the plethora of bird song. Throughout the seasons you will see all the different migratory birds as they pass through. Many of the birds you can also see at The Gallery Lodges as they feed in the meadows marshland and woodland which surround the lodges which encompasses 2 SSSI reserves. As if this wasn’t enough of Birds and wild flowers there is also the Braunton Marshes wetland system which adjoins the estuary and inlet to Braunton. More, there is more still, but that’s another blogg page.
At Last the beach and you can see there is no one here usually. Cycle to Saunton Sands Hotel from here for coffee and then back to The Gallery Lodges along the road.Go the other way round Crow point, but the sand gets a bit hard going. Possible but hard work…..could be worth it though!
Looking out to sea from the Dunes on the way back to the car park or walk up to Saunton Sands Hotel and catch the bus back to The Gallery Lodges .
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.
Saunton beach is 1.8 miles by car from the Lodges at Braunton. There is an amazing view of this beach from the main road to Croyde. Nearby is Saunton Sands Hotel and Saunton sands Gof Club.
Try out Pete Caswell’s Luxury Lodges at Braunton which you can stay in near to Saunton Sands Beach. These Lodges are beautiful and more like a luxury Hotel suite teleported into a wild flower meadow than anything else. Check them out The Gallery Lodges
Its a stunning beach with big vistas and big skies. Its great for a cycle ride. There are many great bike rides here, bring your bikes for coastal cycling.
Backed by the largest dune system in Europe, The Braunton UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Walks along the beach, through the dunes and to the estuary.
Amazing reflections on the sand
Great long boarders beach of world class standard with a mellow peeling wave. Bring a board or hire one at Saunton Sands.
Gig racing at the popular Saunton Sands beach.
See Pete Caswell’s paintings of Saunton Sands beach on his website