Walk - Park Hotel - Home Farm Marsh

7.4 miles (11.8 km)

Park Hotel, Barnstaple Park Hotel, Barnstaple

Moderate -

The South West Coast Path and the Tarka Trail follow the old Bideford railway line along the River Taw. At Home Farm Marsh, 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. 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. 

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. 22

A boutique bed and breakfast with a collection of four beautiful unique en-suite bedrooms.

Tarka Trail Camping

Tarka Trail Camping is right on the South West Coast Path. There are Showers and Toilets on site with a Local Ale Brewery next door. We are an ideal spot to stop off.

The Old Vicarage B&B

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.

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!

Trojen Bed & Breakfast

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

Silver Cottage B&B

A charming cottage with two double bedrooms, shower room, and sitting room with kitchen area. No extra charge for single occupancy, or single night stays.

Whitemoor Camping

Whitemoor Farm is set on a picturesque small farm overlooking the village of Bishops Tawton, just a mile from the North Devon coast.

Catboat Cottage

Our 200-year-old fisherman’s cottage is comfortable, spacious and sleeps 6-8 guests. A stone's throw from the beach and a two minute walk to restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Appledore One End House

A beautiful early 18th century property situated just 50 yards from Appledore's historic quay, cafes, pubs and restaurants and close to the Path. Single night stays available.

The Boathouse

Character waterfront house with private roof terrace and cinema. Sleeps 6 - 8 guests. Open all year round.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Station Masters Cafe

Award Winning Cafe offering local produce Breakfasts and homemade cakes

The Quay Cafe

Located right on the famous SW Coast Path our dog-friendly, fully licensed café offers organic coffee, great food, delicious cream teas.....

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Leave the Park Hotel turning right along New Road in a north-westerly direction. Continue along the footpath between the road, Taw Vale. Cross over the River Taw by using Long Bridge (the main bridge over the River Taw).
  2. Carefully navigate the two busy junctions at the far side of the bridge and keep on the northerly side of the A3125 signposted Bideford. Follow the footpath as it heads between Asda and the A361 before taking the underpass beneath the A361.
  3. Follow the South West Coast Path/Tarka Trail signs towards Bideford. The path travels alongside the River Taw, with Anchor Woods to your left.
  4. 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 UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve is just across the water.

The traditional farming methods and habitat restoration have 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 have 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 sadly 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 wetland, 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.
  2. 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 along the cycle track.

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.  

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.


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