The Tarka Trail is a recreational route opened in May 1992 which describes a figure of eight, centred on Barnstaple, through the beautiful countryside of North Devon. It extends for 180 miles (290 km) and different parts of the trail can be covered by rail (the Barnstaple to Eggesford section of the Tarka Line), on foot or by bicycle.
The part of the Tarka Trail that is nearest to Torrington follows the route of the old railway line which was opened in 1872 but fell to Beeching’s axe in 1965, although freight continued to be transported until 1982. About a mile out of town on the A386 towards Bideford, at the bottom of the hill, is the old Torrington railway station, now a pub called the Puffing Billy. Nearby is Torrington Cycle Hire and families can often be seen cycling along the trail at weekends and holidays on bikes and tandems or with children pedalling along behind on small attached bicycles or riding in special covered trailers.
Going in a southerly direction, you can walk or cycle via Watergate Bridge, East Yarde, Petrockstowe to Meeth Halt (11.4 miles/18.3 km). In the other, northerly, direction the trail crosses over the River Torridge on numerous occasions as it winds through meadows and woods. You pass the village of Weare Giffard on the far side of the river, go through a tunnel at Landcross and then cross the river on an iron bridge and go alongside the Torridge estuary to Bideford (5.3 miles/8.5 km).
For further information please visit the Tarka Trail website: http://www.devon.gov.uk/tarkatrail