Category Archives: Cycle rides near the lodges

Cycle Rides Near the Lodges

The Tarka Trail Cycle Trail

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/
Tarka Trail to Instow
Tarka Trail to Instow
 
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.
Tarka Trail from Braunton to Instow
Tarka Trail from Braunton to Instow
 
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.
Tarka Trail and scenic Cricket ground at Instow
Tarka Trail and scenic Cricket ground at Instow
 
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!
Tarka trail cakes near Braunton
Tarka trail cakes near 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.
https://www.facebook.com/teabythetaw/
http://fatbellyfreds.co.uk/
http://www.thegloriousoyster.co.uk/
http://www.johnsofinstow.co.uk/deli.html
http://www.appledoreinstowferry.com/
 
For the super fit you can carry on up the trail to Meeth and Torrington.

Hunters Inn at Heddon Valley to Lynton Cycle ride

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.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton

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.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton

Once you have climbed the hill through the woods you get great views across the hill tops to the coast

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton. Through the woods obn the way down to Woody Bay.

Soon you reach the coast and the stunning vistas begin of the amazing North Coast.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton. Road really hugs the coast above Woody Bay.

Woody bay is a fun detour if it s hot for a swim, or hang on for Lee Bay further on.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton. If like me you tread with caution when it comes to planning trips round cafes, I rang ahead to check it was still open in Sept and arrived in full anticipation drooling only to find it was shut. Did I fall off my bike in shock or not?

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.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton. Climb up to Valley of the rocks towards Lynton

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.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Looking back down Valley of the Rocks to Lee Bay. Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton

At Lynton check out the historic cliff railway and if you need to stretch your legs further descend the steep road into Lynmouth.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Cliff Railway at Lynton. Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton.

 

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton

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.

Heddon Valley Hunter's Inn to Lynton
Exotic views from the cliffs. Heddon Valley Hunter’s Inn to Lynton
Start of the Victorian Carriageway
Start of the Victorian Carriageway

From Heddon Valley there is also the stunning short walk out to Heddon’s Mouth Cove.

 

 

 

Stunning route back along this amazing trail. For off road bikes this section. Road bikes head back the same way you came.
Stunning route back along this amazing trail. For off road bikes this section is a dream, almost completely flat with amazing views across to South Wales. Road bikes head back the same way you came.
Descent down to the Hunters Inn at Heddon Valley.
Descent down to the Hunters Inn at Heddon Valley a bit stoney.
The final Goal, Back to the Hunters Inn for a beer.
The final Goal, Back to the Hunters Inn for a beer or two.

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.

Woolacombe to Putsborough Cycle Ride from The Gallery Lodges

Cycle ride starts at The Gallery Lodges and climbs over the tops through the back lanes into the views open up over the ocean.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. Descent into Woolacombe

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.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. View across the dunes 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.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. Looking back to Woolacombe along the old road which was meant to link Woolacombe and Putsborough but never got complete.

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.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. Narrow smooth trail to Putsborough.

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.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. Can be tiny bit of mud here. Lovely wind swept trees.

 

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes. Nearly there.

Hang around at the beach cafe for the inevitable sunset at Putsborough. Paintings of these Putsborough sunsets at www.petecaswell.co.uk

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes

If you come on another day it might look like this.

Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes
Putsborough to Woolacombe cycle ride at back of dunes

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.

Putsborough surfing
Putsborough surfing

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

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for saleWoolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for saleWoolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

IMG_1049

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

IMG_1049

Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale
Woolacombe and Putsborough paintings for sale

 

See more paintings of Putsborough and Woolacombe at www.petecaswell.co.uk

Braunton Burrows and the Gallery Lodges

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.

Set off up the big dune, akes a good landmark for finding your way back
Set off up the big dune, makes a good landmark for finding your way back
Sahara Desert in Braunton
Sahara Desert arrives in Braunton

One of the largest sand dune areas in Europe and a Unesco Biosphere reserve, its really worth a visit.

In the Dunes view over to Saunton Sands Hotel
In the Dunes view over to Saunton Sands Hotel. Keep going and you get to a really deserted section of Saunton sands Beach – Beautiful.

You can walk, cycle or drive to the start where there is a reasonably priced car park, about 1.5 miles away.

Big Dune and the gun placement still there from WW2. Feels like you are in the Sahara Desert sometimes
Big Dune and the gun placement still there from WW2. Feels like you are in the Sahara Desert sometimes. The DDay landings were here in a big way before the real event in France.

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.

Savannah grassscape everywhere with lots of tracks to get lost
Savannah grass-scape everywhere with lots of tracks to get lost

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.

Wild Flowers in abundance May June July depending on the weather
Wild Flowers in abundance May June July depending on the weather
If you're a fan of orchids you will find them carpeting areas of the dunes and plenty of variety.
If you’re a fan of orchids you will find them carpeting areas of the dunes and plenty of variety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should end up like this if you get it right. take a drink with you and even a pic nic
You should end up like this if you get it right. take a drink with you and even a pic nic
The flowers even grow in the old gun emplacement in the middle of Big Dune
The flowers even grow in the old gun emplacement in the middle of Big Dune

 

The Final Frontier as you reach the beach after the walk accross the Dunes
The Final Frontier as you reach the beach after the walk across the Dunes. We cheated and cycled but it is very tricky on the sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Saunton Beach near Braunton
Saunton Beach near Braunton

 

 

 

WP_20130906_15_54_27_SmartShoot

 

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 .

WP_20150523_023
Alternative route to Crow Point.
Crow Point at Sunset
Crow Point at Sunset
Estuary at Crow Point at Sunset
Estuary at Crow Point at Sunset

Tarka Trail and cycling at Braunton and Saunton

You can start the Tarka Trail straight from the door of The Gallery Lodges. Cycling is really beautiful in the area around the new luxury lodges at Braunton near to Saunton. If you come to visit then do bring your bike. Free maps at the lodges for all the cycle routes in the area.

Moor Lane as you leave the Lodges at Braunton
Moor Lane as you leave the Lodges at Braunton

The most famous route is the tarka trail which you can start right from the door.  The Tarka trail proper starts 1.4 miles from the Lodges but the best bit of the trail is the trail before you get there. If you take the back route to the Tark trail it is about 3 miles through the back lanes (very scenic) or the quick way through Braunton which is shorter but less scenic.

The American Road extension to the route
The American Road extension to the route

From the gates to the entrance of Pete Caswell’s Art studio where you will set off from, you cycle down Moor Lane where you approach the dunes through quiet country lanes with Wheat and Barley 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.

Swans on BrauntonMarshes
Swans on BrauntonMarshes

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. At the bottom of Moor Lane hang 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.

Ancient landscape of the Marshes and Braunton Great field near to the Lodges
Ancient landscape of the Marshes and Braunton Great field near to the Lodges

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 later guide on this as this forms another bike trip or walk  in itself)

Braunton Great Field a medieval field system
Braunton Great Field a medieval field system

Take the next left and the scenery changes again into wetlands and marshes which is Braunton Marshes, part of the Biosphere which also has Europe’s biggest sand dune reserve. Swans, rare birds, yellow irises can often be seen.

Yellow Irises on the Marshes along the way
Yellow Irises on the Marshes along the way

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 Tark trail). At the end of the road you come to a roundabout. To your right you see the Tarka trail which will take you to Barnstaple past the pub on the estuary and a lovely garden centre. From Barnstaple you can travel onto Northam and Bideford and Appledore. At certain times of year there is a ferry from Northam to Appledore which can add a fun dimension to your trip.

If you go left at this island you can go to the local Tescos, which makes this probably the most scenic trip to Tescos you can find.

We have free maps in the Lodges of the Tarka Trail and the local area for cycling, walking and exploring.

Boats moored on the inlet near the start of the Tarka Trail
Boats moored on the inlet near the start of the Tarka Trail

The Tarka trail will take you from Barnstaple onto Bideford and then onto Torrington and Meethif you are super fit.

Bikes can be hired in Braunton & Barnstaple.

From Braunton a cycle trail heads North also but its not a great trip so see my guide on cycling to Wolacombe and Morte Hoe later on.

Detour out to Crow Point on the way to the Tarka Trail
Detour out to Crow Point on the way to the Tarka Trail

Saunton Sands Beach near Braunton

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 

Saunton Beach near Braunton
Saunton Beach near Braunton

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.

Cycling at Saunton Beach
Cycling at Saunton Beach

Backed by the largest dune system in Europe, The Braunton UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Walks along the beach, through the dunes and to the estuary.

Saunton Beach and the Braunton Sand Dunes
Saunton Beach and the Braunton Sand Dunes

Amazing reflections on the sand

Saunton Beach and the Braunton Sand Dunes
Saunton Beach and the Braunton Sand Dunes

Great long boarders beach of world class standard with a mellow peeling wave. Bring a board or hire one at Saunton Sands.

Saunton Beach in the evening near to Braunton
Saunton Beach in the evening near to Braunton

Gig racing at the popular Saunton Sands beach.

Gig Racing at Saunton Beach near Braunton
Gig Racing at Saunton Beach near Braunton

See Pete Caswell’s paintings of Saunton Sands beach on his website

www.petecaswell.co.uk

see video of Pete’s art studio and paintings