Walk - Home Farm Marsh Walk from Barnstaple Station

8.7 miles (14.0 km)

Barnstaple Station - EX31 2AU Barnstaple Station

Moderate - The walk is level, and much of it is along a broad flat tarmac path. Home Farm Marsh can be wet, however, so wear sensible footwear. A mobility scooter can be hired from Biketrail Cycle Hire in Fremington as part of the Countryside Mobility project, which you can use to do most of this walk (but with a different start point). Visit the Countryside mobility website to find out more details.    

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. A good walk for children, who will love the old limekiln that looks like a castle, as well as the remnants of the railway and the tour of the fields at Home Farm Marsh.

 

To check that this walk is suitable for you click here where you can find additional mapping and photographs showing gradients, path surfaces, and other detailed information.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

No 2 Broadgate House B&B

A stunning 17th Century guest house close to Barnstaple town centre. We offer three boutique style king size bedrooms, all ensuite.

Bennings B&B

Friendly, family run B&B. Double and twin rooms, both en suite. No charge for Wi-Fi. Great location and generous breakfast for your next day's walk!

Herton Guest House, Barnstaple

Spacious former farmhouse, full of character, comfort and charm. Close to Coast Path,long stay parking available. A hearty breakfast to set you up for the day.

Trojen Bed & Breakfast

Relax in our B&B situated half a mile from Coast Path in a quiet cul de sac in Braunton. Private lounge/ diner and super King ensuite with views of estuary to Appledore.

Marsdens Devon Cottages

One of Devon’s leading agencies with over 450 cottages in popular locations including Croyde, Woolacombe, Braunton and Lynmouth. Book online today!

North Cottage, Braunton

Close to the Coast Path, village centre with restaurants & pubs, beach and golf course. Double, single & twin rooms, available Wifi.

The Laurels, Braunton

A warm welcome will greet you from this family owned B&B in the heart of Braunton within easy reach of village facilities and the magnificent local beaches.

The Old Vicarage B&B, Barnstaple

The Old Vicarage B&B is an early Victorian house with spacious guest accommodation, modern en-suite facilities, free parking and free Wi-Fi, located just a short stroll from the town centre.

The Poplars B&B, Barnstaple

Close to the town with its pannier market and situated in a quiet rural setting. Our Edwardian house enjoys easy access to the Tarka Trail making it an ideal stop over for walkers.

Honeysuckle Cottage B&B, Westleigh

A small B&B located in the quiet village of Westleigh (near Instow), 500 yds from the Coast Path & 20 yards from the local pub-the Westleigh Inn-serving food 7 days a week.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the front of Barnstaple Station turn left along the South West Coast Path/Tarka Trail and follow the signs towards Bideford. The path travels alongside the River Taw, with Anchor Woods to your left.
  2. Reaching Penhill, the riverbank pulls out to Penhill Point, where there is a small beach at low tide, but for this walk continue along the cycle track to Fremington Quay.

Fremington was once known as the busiest port between Bristol and Land's End, as ships carried out ceramics, clay and local produce, bringing in limestone and coal. In 1846 the coming of the railway added to the bustle, as Fremington was connected to Barnstaple at a cost of £20,000.

  1. Crossing the old railway bridge over Fremington Creek, continue ahead along the tarmac path.

For a more adventurous route take the footpath signed to the right afterwards, past the monument. The path passes a massive lime kiln, barricaded for safety, and travels along the shingly shore, above the tideline. Travelling as far as you can along the path, you cross a tiny stream and come to a barbed wire fence ahead. Turn left here, over the stream, to come back out on the Coast Path.

Follow the Coast Path for about three quarters of a mile, to the gateway on right, where there is an interpretation panel.

  1. From here follow the waymarked route out to the estuary and around the edge of Home Farm Marsh, coming back out onto the Coast Path and the Tarka Trail a little way further down.

Home Farm Marsh was formerly an intensive dairy farm with some crop production. It was acquired in 2002 by the Gaia Trust, whose motto is "Bringing Nature and People Together". The Trust is now working with the tenant farmers and conservation volunteers to restore the marsh to its former status as a wetland, particularly important here because Salt Duck Pond and the RSPB's Isley Marsh Reserve (both adjacent to Home Farm Marsh) are both Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and the Braunton Burrows International Biosphere Reserve is just across the water.

The traditional farming methods and habitat restoration has led to a dramatic increase in the number of different species making a home here. This is particularly noticeable with birds like skylarks, lapwings, wheatears, yellowhammers and grey partridges, all species in decline elsewhere but thriving here.

Cattle graze on Monkey Island , and a series of ponds has been created, providing feeding and nesting areas for water birds like moorhens, ducks, snipes and waders. The large field beyond has been turned into a water meadow, and parts of it are very wet in winter and spring. Look out for Canada geese and listen for skylarks overhead.

On the estuary, the shore is lined with feathery tamarisk, a Mediterranean sun-loving plant which thrives on the coast. The hedge is a haven for grasshoppers and other insects. Wildflowers love it here too, including delicate blue pale flax, pink restharrow and vivid yellow-wort.

The fields beyond have been given over to cereal crops and grassland, with one field left fallow to encourage breeding lapwings. A strip of plants has been sown here to provide cover and seeds for birds in winter and spring.

To the east of the gate is a memorial stone to Lady Hilda Macneill who died here in 1904 trying to save a drowning child. To the west of Home Farm Marsh, but not accessible to the public, there are much older stones, in a Bronze Age stone row. Flint implements and arrowheads found on the beach date back to the Middle Stone Age.

At Allen's Rock, stubble from the harvesting of the wheat and barley is left as cover and food for birds, and natural grasses have been planted beyond. Look out for the blaze of red poppies in the summer. Hill's Marsh is another wet place, and reeds, rushes and sedges are being encouraged to spread to provide a habitat for insects, birds and mammals. If you're lucky, you may even spot an egret here: a small white heron which has spread to southern England from Europe in the last 20 years.

For more information see the Gaia Trust website

  1. Turn left onto the cycle track and retrace your steps to Fremington Quay. From here either turn right onto the footpath before the bridge, to catch a bus at the top, or cross the bridge and walk back to Barnstaple Station along the cycle track.

Public transport

Stagecoach Devon 21 and 21A bus services run regularly between Barnstaple and Fremington.

For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

 

close
close

Walk Finder

Find...

Postcode, placename or click the icon to use current location

Click/hold and drag the map to set the centre point of your search location under the red crosshair

from this location

Difficulty

Length (miles)

Themes

close

Find somewhere to Eat & Drink, Sleep or Do

Find...

Postcode, placename or click the icon to use current location

Click/hold and drag the map to set the centre point of your search location under the red crosshair

from this location
close

Interactive Map

close

Latest news