The Best Family-Friendly Cycle Routes in Devon
Wondering where to go for family bike rides in Devon? We've done the thinking for you - here are our Top Family Bike Trails in Devon (plus, three great ideas for fun family days out).
With two national parks, stunning coastline and of course, the famous cream tea, it's no wonder Devon is one of the UK's most popular holiday destinations. With so much to explore, why not hop on your bike and uncover some of Devon's best cycling routes? (Remember, if you're planning a day out, it is always advisable to check with the venue to see if advance booking is necessary, or if any other restrictions are in place).
1. The Tamar Trails 🚂
Just over the border from Cornwall, the Tamar Valley has over 15 miles of trails to explore. Our favourite route for families is the Mineral Railway trail, which offers cycling on a wide track through some beautiful woodland and old mining trails. Explore the Old Mine Office and find out about the county's mining heritage while you stop for a break.
2. The Granite Way 🌉
Running from Okehampton through to Lydford, the Granite Way is an 11-mile stretch of leisurely cycling, mostly on traffic-free trails. It offers stunning views of Dartmoor and passes over some interesting places, including the Meldon Viaduct, the Museum of Dartmoor Life and Okehampton Castle. There is a YMCA at the free car park at Okehampton Station, but make sure to pack a picnic as there isn't much along the way.
3. The Tarka Trail 🌳
Credit: Curious Trails
One of the best ways to explore North Devon, the Tarka trail has over 30 miles of cycle paths that are entirely traffic-free. There are various routes to suit all abilities and an extremely helpful website, which allows you to plan your day, find cafes, and check which circuits will be suitable for your tribe.
One of the most accessible trails is the Fremington to Bideford Route, via the lovely village of Instow, and the estuary at The Rivers Taw and Torridge. Look out for military hovercrafts passing; a thrill for kids of all ages!
The entire trail here is traffic-free and tarmacked, making it ideal for little ones, although it is a 12-mile return journey, so you may want to limit how far you go for the littlest of legs.
4. Haldon Forest 🌲
The Discovery Trail, in the stunning surrounds of Haldon Forest, is an ideal family cycle. It is a fully surfaced, well-marked trail, and gentle enough for riders of all abilities. It has excellent accessibility for pushchairs and trailers, and there are picnic benches and viewing points along the route.
This trail is shared with walkers and horse riders and does get quite busy at weekends and during school holidays. The helpful team at Forestry England recommend morning or late afternoon visits to avoid the busiest times of day, especially if less confident riders may benefit from a little more space.
5. The Grand Western Canal Cycle Route 🚣
Credit: Phils-Pulling Power
The Grand Western Canal Country Park, or the Tiverton Canal as the locals call it, is a picturesque cycling route along a smooth, flat towpath running for just over 11 miles.
The path can get quite busy, particularly as it is shared with walkers, anglers and the horse-drawn barge, which has the right of way! It is generally very easy cycling, although there is one steep slope at Waytown Tunnel.
One thing to note is that care needs to be taken around the bridges; there are 25 in total, and most have limited visibility regarding on-coming "traffic". There are also four bridges where the horse-drawn barge operates, and cyclists will need to dismount. Find out more information about the Grand Western Canal Cycle Route here.
6. Exe Estuary Trail 🌊
For wildlife fans, the newly constructed Exe Estuary Trail is a beautiful route to explore. It runs around the Exe Estuary from Dawlish to Exmouth and takes in much of the RSPB reserves in this area.
Because it is purpose-built, it is mostly flat and easy going. There is also plenty of parking along the route and lots of stops for bike hire, cafes and loos in the villages of Dawlish, Topsham and Starcross, to name a few.
The Bike Club's Top Picks for Fabulous Family Day's Out in Devon
Devon has a vast range of wonderful places to visit. Here are three of our favourites!
1) Powderham Castle 🏰
On the grounds of a deer park not far from Exeter, Powderham Castle is a great family day out. Highlights for little ones include feeding the animals in the Walled Garden, where they can feed goats, pigs and chickens. There is also a play area and extensive gardens and woodlands to explore. (Tickets are required and can be booked online in advance).
2) Lydford Gorge 💦
A National Trust treasure, Lydford Gorge is the deepest of its kind in the South West and boasts a magnificent 30m high waterfall. There's a circular walk, café and toilets. (Advance booking is currently required, so do check ahead before visiting).
3) Crazywell Pool 🏞️
A hidden delight steeped in mystery and wonder, Crazywell Pool is a magical place to visit. Once thought to be bottomless, the legend goes that the pool will talk to those who cast their eyes into its murky waters. The trek to the pool can be tricky in places, so it is best for slightly older children, but the views of surrounding Dartmoor make it more than worth the effort.
Wherever you explore this summer, we hope you have a great time! ☀️
Please send us your photos, or tag us in your travels, so we can share in your fun 👇
P.s. If you live in Devon and have any other recommendations for Bike Club families, we'd love to hear from you!
You can also read about our top 10 UK family cycle routes!