The pretty villages of Lynmouth and Lynton provide a challenging but rewarding ride from Bideford along the Tarka Trail to Barnstaple and across the Exmoor National Park.
The ride starts on the Tarka Trail at Bideford and follows the trail to Barnstaple where we cross the River Taw at Taw Bridge. Note: the old railway bridge at Rock Park is currently closed until further notice so we leave the Tarka trail at Rock Park and follow the local cycle path towards Whiddon Valley where we head east on NCN3 towards Brayford and the Exmoor National Park.
The climbing starts in earnest heading North from Brayford peaking at 475 metres at Kinsford Gate before turning left onto NCN 277 and descending into Simonsbath.
There's one last short climb out of Simonsbath before the decent through Exmoor Forest all the way to down to Lynmouth and a well earned rest.
The climb over Exmoor took me a little by surprise as I'd underestimated the demands of the ascent together with the exposed terrain. Foolishly, I hadn't packed any snacks and found myself desperately longing for there to be café that served pasties in Lynmouth. To my relief "Lyndale Tearooms" came into sight at the foot of the descent and within a very few minutes normality had been restored with a most delicious pasty and a cappuccino.
I took time to study the map and plan the return leg, due to a road closure I'd effectively completed the planned route so far in reverse. I decided to carry on along the planned route in reverse and take my chances on getting through the road closure from the opposite direction. Leaving Lynmouth via the 25% gradient of Lynmouth Hill isn't a great aid to digesting a pasty so I elected to walk with the bike along the Clooneavin Footpath up to Lynton and then joined NCN 51 and the Tarka Trail for a magnificent passage through the Valley of Rocks which includes the highest sea cliffs in England!
View from Clooneavin footpath
The Valley of Rocks
We leave the coastal trail at Woody Bay heading south towards Woody Bay Station before exiting the Exmoor National Park at Blackmoor Gate to begin the descent back to Barnstaple.
Once again the Tarka Trail from Barnstaple provides a flat finale to the ride and time to consider the tastiest and most refreshing way that you might enjoy replacing some of your many lost calories on arrival back in Bideford?