Coast-to-coast rides are all in the north, right? Wrong. Devon’s own C2C has all the scenery of its northern brethren, and fewer of the hills. Railway paths dive under tunnels and over viaducts restored and new, so that it’s the views that will take your breath away, not the climbs.
The Devon C2C is part of the new Anglo-French circular route, the Tour de Manche. But you can enjoy it as a stand-alone tour, and with easy trains from London, it’s ideal for a long weekend break.
Three days is an enjoyable, relaxing ride, but you can do it in two, particularly if you miss out the Ilfracombe–Barnstaple section.
Whatever you’ve got! The hills aren’t so tough that you’ll struggle on a mountain bike, the surfaces not too rough for a road bike with sturdy tyres. As often with Sustrans routes, a hybrid/cross bike is ideal, but really – anything will cope.
It’s perfect. Enough of a challenge to give you a sense of achievement, but never too taxing – and you can boast that you’ve cycled from coast to coast.
Yes: there’s an optional upland route (NCN 274) avoiding Tavistock. It’s not one for the beginner, but fit road cyclists will enjoy the challenge. There’s a couple of minor diversions you might choose, too, including within Tavistock itself.
There’s little to choose between north-south and south-north: pick whichever suits your travel plans best.
On the north coast, there are trains to Barnstaple (on a branch from Exeter), but Ilfracombe’s railway fell prey to the unspeakable Dr Beeching. Happily, there’s a bus from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe that carries bikes, though only in the summer months. At other times, you can cycle there and back, get a taxi – or simply skip the first 20 miles.
Plymouth, on the south coast, is on the Great Western main line so there’s no shortage of trains. Great Western Railway now requires that you book your space in advance.