The Tarka Line


Barnstaple is a lovely town near the North Devon coast. Its history as a town extends back to the 900s and it was a very significant port for trade for hundreds of years. Five ships that set out from Barnstaple went to help the British fleet to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Today the town is the gateway to the well-known surfing spots of Croyde and Woolacombe just further north. Around Barnstaple there are lots of great walks. Westward Ho!, a little further south, has a great geological history, on the way you could go to Appledore or Instow across the estuary.

Here are some great walks you can do straight from Barnstaple station.


Codden Hill

Distance - 8.5 miles  Difficulty - Challenging

This walk crosses the old Victorian railway bridge and winds along the tidal River Taw, to follow the Tarka Trail along a riverside woodland walk to Venn Quarry. Footpaths, quiet country roads and an old green lane lead to the top of Codden Hill, site of an ancient bowl barrow and a modern monument, with breathtaking views for miles in every direction. There is some steep ascent and descent, and the paths may be muddy, so good footwear is recommended.

Estuary Walk

Distance -11.5 miles  Difficulty - Moderate

A walk as long or as short as you want to make it - 2¾ – 11½ miles (4.25 – 18.5km) - mostly on a level tarmac path along the Taw Estuary. Look out for wildfowl and waterbirds as you walk past saltmarsh and tiny rocky beaches to the Tarka Inn. For dedicated walkers, the route continues through a once-bustling port and around marshland reclaimed from the sea, to Braunton Burrows, the UK's largest dune system with a wealth of rare plants.

Home Farm Marsh Walk

Distance - 8.7 miles  Difficulty - Moderate

The South West Coast Path and the Tarka Trail follow the old Bideford railway line along the River Taw. At Home Farm Marsh, at Fremington, the Gaia Trust has restored the wetlands lost when the farm was an intensive dairy farming unit, and traditional methods of farming have encouraged the return of many species of wildlife. The walk is level, and much of it is along a broad flat tarmac path.

River Taw Walk

Distance - 2.2 miles  Difficulty - Easy

Rock Park with its formal lawns and shrubs and its riverside tree walk was given to the town in 1879 by William Frederick Rock, a shoemaker's son whose early career in banking was blighted by his habit of writing poetry during working hours! He founded a printing business instead, and proceeded to make a fortune, most of which he gave to Barnstaple. The River Taw is tidal at this point, and many wildlife and waterbirds nest along its banks.