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This spectacular journey takes you from the beaches and estuaries in north Devon to the stunning south coast of Devon at Plymouth. Ride beside the sea, through lush green valleys, touch the edge of Dartmoor National Park and enjoy gorgeous scenery and grand views. Pedal along former railway lines, through tunnels and across breathtaking viaducts and bridges. Enroute, you will discover magical villages and cream teas you can't resist. Essentially rural but peppered with characterful towns, The Carter Company has designed the tour with a leisurely tempo, balancing mileages and slopes to ensure as gentle a cycle each day as possible - that's the way they like to do things. And of course, every night you'll relax in the hand-picked guesthouses and hotels.
You will be accommodated in two small hotels, an inn on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, a B&B in Tavistock, and a village inn chosen by The Carter Company.
The holiday starts on any day except Thursdays with Barnstaple as the base. Much of this route is traffic free as it slices through Devon from the north to the south. It includes the bike paths of the Tarka Trail, the Granite Way, and the Plym Valley.
Arrive in Barnstaple and make your way to your hand-picked accommodation which is located adjacent to the heart of this attractive town. Situated at the head of the Taw estuary, the town has a long and interesting history with plenty to explore. At a time to suit you, make your way to the base close by in Barnstaple, which is open from 09:15 to 17:00 every day, to pick up your cycling equipment. Your host will meet you there, organize your bicycle and run through your itinerary.
There's a wonderful opportunity to absorb the holiday mood today on this idyllic ride around the Taw estuary. Traffic free, flat and with the wind in your hair, you can ride by the sand dunes and spot the wildlife. Freewheel on to the beautiful sandy bay at Saunton, test the sea's temperature and laze away the hours. A cream tea could justifiably be slipped in before you return along the waters edge for a second night at your hotel.
Most of today's ride follows the Tarka Trail and the course of an old railway line as it hugs the estuary to Bideford and then follows the River Torridge through scenic woodlands, over bridges and through cuttings and tunnels. Virtually traffic free, with just a couple of slopes towards the end of the day, the route includes marshlands, old quays, a beach great for a dip and welcoming cafes in old railway stations. It's worth a detour across the 14th Century bridge to explore Bideford whilst the characterful market town of Great Torrington also boasts the Dartington glass factory. It's a day packed with a variety that ends with a warm welcome at your overnight in nestled in a picturesque hamlet.
Pedaling south towards Dartmoor, you are rewarded with amazing views and unexpected finds. You won't spill the beans but simply tempt you by mentioning market day, a pottery and farmhouse refreshments. Another old railway route leads you into Dartmoor National Park with 11 miles of traffic free cycling along The Granite Way. On this spectacular ride which includes the long Meldon Viaduct, the moor with its craggy tors and the surrounding countryside are yours to savor. Your overnight stop enjoys a sheltered village position at the foot of the moor.
This is rural Devon at its best as you skirt around the edge of Dartmoor, through pretty villages with thatched dwellings and verdant valleys with gurgling streams. Explore a hidden gorge or a ruined castle and stop awhile in cozy pubs. Tavistock, where you will stay the night, is a historic and unspoiled town where you may enjoy ambling among the specialist shops and the market stalls.
Leave Tavistock behind with a short uphill across the downs and you are back on Dartmoor. Panoramic vistas, picturesque bridges, and attractive moorland villages are the picture for the next few miles as you pedal across this outstanding scene. You're on top of the world and its all downhill from now! The route leads to a pretty wooded valley and beyond to yet another old railway track where you can freewheel through tunnels and viaducts down into Plymouth. This traffic freeroll takes you right to the coast and around the famous Hoe in Plymouth where so many ships have passed in and out of this maritime city. Marvel at the view, pat yourself on the back and enjoy the warm welcome of your nearby hotel.
Bid farewell to your stead and depart at your leisure. The tour includes a transfer back to Barnstaple. If you are returning to London, Plymouth is three and a half hours by train to London.
The cycling holidays in Devon and Cornwall are an exciting way of getting to know this rural part of Britain. The area is a popular holiday destination among the English due to its warm sunny weather, rolling landscapes and interesting northern and southern coastlines. The area isn't completely flat and does have some hills. However, a lot of the cycle routes follow old railway lines which means the gradients are fairly gentle. Traveling by bike in this region allows you to get your teeth into the authentic English countryside and some pretty dramatic scenery. Think big skies, green vales, rugged moors, soaring viaducts and cool tunnels. The team at The Carter Company are particularly fond of the attractive waterside cycling along the Tawe estuary.
En route, you can soak up the laid-back pace of life of Devon and Cornwall as you wind your way through pretty villages with thatched cottages. The local culture is well known for its delicious cream teas and there is a thriving organic food movement in the area.
In the UK, all breakfasts are served cooked.
A sneak preview of some of the recommendations for the area:
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