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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.