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1

Bristol to Wells

The West Country Way starts gently, with a very pleasant route out of Bristol along the riverbank and the Whitchurch Railway Path. If you’re arriving at Temple Meads station, head down the station approach road; turn left at the bottom; then left again onto the riverside path. Chew Magna Lake, 11 miles in, is an ideal spot for your first café stop of the ride.

The Mendips are the first hurdle on the West Country Way, a hulk of rock separating Bristol from the rural West. It’s a simple one up, one down challenge; the climb is tough though not too long. The Queen Victoria at Priddy, just before the descent begins, is a very pleasant stop. From here it’s a two-mile descent to Wookey Hole and its dramatic, though a little touristy, cave system.

Wells comes soon after and the cathedral is a must-visit. The cycle route takes you straight past the front, but do keep a careful eye out for signs, as the one way system can be confusing.

Hotels

Balstonborough Glastonbury

from £85Dairy Barn

Bath

Blagdon

from £82The Nest

Blagdon

from £70Old Farmhouse
from £70School Farm

Bristol

Bristol

from £127Berkeley Suites
from £115Berkeley Suites
from £60Clifton House
from £15Rock n Bowl
from £45The Ashville
from £15YHA Bristol
from £16YHA Bristol
from £49YHA Bristol

Bristol, Avon

Bristol, South West England

Burcott Wells

Chew Magna

from £68The Old Barn

Chew Valley Lake

from £0The Stables

Compton Martin

from £95Ring O Bells

Compton Martin Nr. Cheddar

from £302Meadow View

Coxbridge

from £115Brook Cottage

Dulcote Wells

from £122The Piggery

Glastonbury

Glastonbury

from £1058 Owls B&B
from £0Belle-Vue
from £80Cherrybrook
from £40Haydn House
from £0Haydn House
from £80No 51
from £90Number 27
from £79Number 27

Glastonbury, Somerset

Hartlake

from £129The Cottage

Keynsham, Bristol

from £24The Crown Inn

North Wootton

from £79The Crossways

Nr Wells

from £39Crossways

Priddy

from £74The Cabin

Priddy Nr. Wells

from £130Dale Barton
from £159Dale Cottage

Redhill

Shepton Mallet

Somerset

from £60Mullions Hotel

Somerset

Stanton Drew

from £70The Tithe Barn

Stanton Wick

from £100Carpenters Arms

Sticklinch

Sticklinch

from £76Dabinett

Street

from £0Tor View

Street

Street Nr Glastonbury

from £40Wessex Hotel

Wells

from £1302 Park View
from £96Beryl
from £115Coxley House
from £0Long Wood
from £75No. 23
from £75The City Arms
from £64Worth House

Wells Somerset

Wells, Somerset

West Compton

West Pennard

from £98The Cobbles
from £143The Old Stable
from £75The Red Lion

Westbury Sub Mendip

Westbury-Sub-Mendip

from £83Greenleaze

Winford

Wookey

from £127Mendip View
from £72Old Orchard

Wookey Hole

from £69The Stables

Wookey Hole Wells

Wookey Hole Nr. Wells

Wookey

2

Wells to Bridgwater

The route from Wells to Glastonbury is circuitous – and deliberately so. The A39 does it in four miles, NCN 3 takes nine. It’s worth it, for the tiny lanes past Glastonbury Tor have the finest views in the area. You arrive directly on Glastonbury High Street, epicentre of all things New Age and ecological. The town has plentiful B&Bs… just so long as you don’t mind vegetarian sausages for breakfast.

A quiet railway path leads to the modest Polden Hills, barely deserving of the name, and lanes crossing the pancake-flat Somerset Levels. The route at Bawdrip was formerly infamous when a landowner withdrew his permission, forcing a detour across rough fields and a busy road; happily, an alternative route has recently been opened.

NCN 3 follows the River Parrett’s east bank for a mile into Bridgwater town centre, then executes a 180° turn to leave via the canal towpath. You can cut the corner by hefting your bike over the river on a narrow footbridge, but if you’re not pushed for time, Bridgwater is a moderately pleasant town with attractive old docks.

Hotels

Ashcott

from £48Sunnyside B&B

Balstonborough Glastonbury

from £85Dairy Barn

Bridgwater

from £120Maunsel House
from £87The Bower Inn
from £0Tudor Hotel

Bridgwater. Somerset

Burcott Wells

Butleigh Nr. Glastonbury

from £60Betsy Cottage

Chew Valley Lake

from £0The Stables

Chilton Polden

Coxbridge

from £115Brook Cottage

Dulcote Wells

from £122The Piggery

Edington

from £67The Hide

Glastonbury

Glastonbury

from £1058 Owls B&B
from £0Belle-Vue
from £80Cherrybrook
from £40Haydn House
from £0Haydn House
from £59Meare Manor
from £80No 51
from £90Number 27
from £79Number 27

Glastonbury, Somerset

Hartlake

from £129The Cottage

Henley Langport

from £79Badger'S Bolt

Meare

Meare Green (Taunton)

Meare

from £66West Down

North Petherton

from £130The Coach House

North Wootton

from £79The Crossways

Nr Wells

from £39Crossways

Pedwell

Priddy

from £74The Cabin

Priddy Nr. Wells

from £130Dale Barton
from £159Dale Cottage

Shepton Mallet

Somerset

from £60Mullions Hotel

Somerset

Sticklinch

Sticklinch

from £76Dabinett

Street

from £0Tor View

Street

Street Nr Glastonbury

from £40Wessex Hotel

Taunton

Wells

from £1302 Park View
from £96Beryl
from £115Coxley House
from £0Long Wood
from £75No. 23
from £75The City Arms
from £64Worth House

Wells Somerset

Wells, Somerset

West Compton

West Lyng

West Pennard

from £98The Cobbles
from £143The Old Stable
from £75The Red Lion

Westbury Sub Mendip

Westbury-Sub-Mendip

from £83Greenleaze

Wookey

from £127Mendip View
from £72Old Orchard

Wookey Hole

from £69The Stables

Wookey Hole Wells

Wookey Hole Nr. Wells

Wookey

3

Bridgwater to Tiverton

The easy riding continues for the next 30 miles which are, more or less, all about the canals. These waterways aren’t connected to the main English system, so boats are few and far between, but they’re no less pretty for it. The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, which provides almost all the route to Taunton, has an intriguing scale model of the solar system along its banks – the ‘Somerset Space Walk’. There’s a very welcome café at Maunsel Lock, five miles out of Bridgwater.

Give or take a little faffing at the western end, the waterside route through Taunton is attractive and easy to follow. The Grand Western Canal once continued all the way from here to Tiverton, but its eccentric choice of boat lifts rather than locks doomed it from the start. With much of it ploughed into the landscape in the years since closure, the cycle route is forced onto country lanes, and there’s some moderate climbing for the first time since the Mendips.

The last miles of the canal were level and lift-free, and this section has survived. The route follows the towpath to Sampford Peverell, where a useful link connects NCN 3 to the well-served Tiverton Parkway railway station. Tiverton itself, six miles on, is an unspoilt little town on the River Exe, with tea-rooms, a bike shop and all provisions.

Hotels

from £50Anchor Inn

Bampton

from £0Duvale Barn
from £0Leat Cottage
from £0Mill Cottage
from £0Orchard Barn

Bampton

from £95Bridge House
from £85Heron House

Bampton, Tiverton

from £60Weston House

Bridgwater

from £120Maunsel House
from £87The Bower Inn
from £0Tudor Hotel

Bridgwater. Somerset

Cullompton

from £40Weir Mill Farm

Dulverton

from £0Anchor Inn
from £73Norfolk House
from £268The Boot
from £85Town Mills

Exton

from £67Mill Cottage

Fitzhead Nr Wivelscombe

from £184Linnets

Greenham

from £93Greenham Hall

Maidendown

from £81Danoone

Meare Green (Taunton)

Nailsbourne

from £345Lyddons Mead

North Curry

North Petherton

from £130The Coach House

Nr. Tiverton

Oake

Shillingford

from £75The Old Mill

Somerset

Somerset

Staplegrove

from £531Millgrove House

Stawley

Taunton

from £92Blorenge House
from £118Blorenge House
from £75Brook Farm
from £92Brook Farm
from £72Castle Hotel
from £60No 71
from £80No. 71
from £69Octonlodge
from £65The Anchor Inn
from £70The Loft Room

Taunton, Somerset

Tiverton

from £80The Globe Inn

Uffculme

from £188Old Bridwell
from £40Ostler Inn

Uplowman

from £144The Goyle
from £120Wattles

Washfield

Wellington

from £85Cider Barn
from £108Werescote View

West Lyng

Wiveliscombe

from £0Monks Belt

Wrangway

from £74Sparrows Nest
4

Tiverton to Barnstaple

Make sure to refuel in Tiverton, top up your water bottle, and stock your panniers with all things nutritious and energy-giving. The next stage is wild – and hilly. After the tiny towns of Bampton and Dulverton, the crossing of Exmoor is 20 miles of remote cycling with just one lonely pub in the middle. It’s not a place to find yourself tired and hungry.

Before that, there’s an undulating, meandering 13 miles on rural lanes; as is so often the case, the A road has claimed the valley for its own, though if you don’t mind a short stretch on the A396 there’s an alternative, flatter lane on the opposite bank of the Exe. Accommodation and basic provisions are available in Bampton, where the Quarryman’s Rest is a long-time favourite.

A short killer of a climb out of Dulverton marks the start of Exmoor. After the first mile, it’s a steady haul all the way to the top, the road levelling out slightly after the cattle grid at Anstey Gate. The views range widely on a clear day, until the route turns inland into its own equivalent of Tolkien’s Shire. The Sportsman’s Inn is a welcome outpost just before the summit; accommodation is available, but book well in advance.

It’s a long descent from the 480m summit of Exmoor to the sea at Barnstaple, but there's one or two nasty little kicks to keep you exercised on the way down. The route avoids Barnstaple town centre, but it’s just half a mile on NCN 27 if you’re planning a visit.

Hotels

from £60Half Moon Inn
from £75Tarr Farm Inn

Bampton

from £0Duvale Barn
from £0Leat Cottage
from £0Mill Cottage
from £0Orchard Barn

Bampton

from £95Bridge House
from £85Heron House

Bampton, Tiverton

from £60Weston House

Barnstaple

from £70Bracken House
from £78The Spinney

Barnstaple, Devon

Barnstaple, North Devon Coast

from £60Cedars Inn

Bideford

Bratton Fleming Barnstaple

from £132Stable Cottage

Braunton

Challacombe

Challacombe

Charles

Cullompton

Dulverton

from £0Anchor Inn
from £73Norfolk House
from £160Tarr Farm Inn
from £268The Boot
from £85Town Mills

East Anstey

from £82Hunters Lodge

Eastleigh

from £76Barn Owl
from £82Tawny Owl

Exmoor

Exton

from £67Mill Cottage

Great Torrington

from £61Hilly Fields
from £89Mere Brook
from £89Mill Pool
from £74Owlery Holt
from £150Riverside
from £100Skirr
from £247Tarka

Hurscott

Instow

Little Torrington

from £84Heather
from £84Lavender

Meeth

Minehead

Okehampton

from £0Furzedon B&B

Petrockstowe

from £200Sincocks Farm

Sheepwash

from £80Half Moon Inn

Shillingford

from £75The Old Mill

Simonsbath

South Molton

Swimbridge

from £0Kingfisher

Swimbridge Nr. Barnstaple

from £0Mole

Tiverton

Twitchen

Uplowman

from £144The Goyle
from £120Wattles

Washfield

West Anstey

Winkleigh

5

Barnstaple to Sheepwash

At Barnstaple, NCN 3 is joined by the Devon Coast-to-Coast route for 20 glorious miles of railway path. This is the Tarka Trail, taking in the resorts of Instow and Bideford en route to the Devon interior. The first 10 miles are particularly busy, with several bike hire centres disgorging hordes of novice cyclists onto this picturesque, safe route – and plentiful cafés and pubs competing for their custom.

At first the views are of the Taw estuary; twitchers will be in their element here. Take care at Instow, where the road crossing is a little confusing: look for signs to avoid ending up in the yacht club.

Between Bideford and Great Torrington, the River Torridge becomes your faithful companion, repeatedly crossing on old railway viaducts. Finally, the path heads into quiet woodland, the crowds thin out, and the only sign of life is the wonderful café and hostel at East Yarde.

The Tarka Trail will eventually continue to Hatherleigh, but while a missing section after Meeth remains unresolved, the route dives off via country lanes and a short, sharp ascent at Petrockstowe. It leaves the Devon C2C at Sheepwash, a little village with a friendly pub serving good food.

Hotels

from £60Half Moon Inn

Appledore

from £107Shorewaters
from £189The Waterside

Appledore

from £70Sheerwater
from £60The Seagate

Appledore Bideford

from £78The Mount

Appledore Nr. Bideford

Barnstaple

from £78The Spinney

Barnstaple, Devon

Barnstaple, North Devon Coast

from £60Cedars Inn

Bideford

from £400Copperfield
from £126Hastings Barn
from £149Heron Cottage
from £107High Park Lodge
from £110Instow Barton
from £101Montgomery Barn
from £149Puffin Cottage
from £174Riverside View
from £95Sheldon Barn
from £90The Cabin
from £91The Old Barn
from £0The Orangery
from £125The Seagate
from £110Wren Cottage

Bideford Devon

Bideford, Devon

from £65The Royal Hotel

Braunton

East Chilla Nr. Halwill Junction Beaworthy

Eastleigh

from £76Barn Owl
from £82Tawny Owl

Great Torrington

from £61Hilly Fields
from £89Mere Brook
from £89Mill Pool
from £74Owlery Holt
from £150Riverside
from £100Skirr
from £247Tarka

Highampton

from £80Bolthole

Highampton Beaworthy

from £59Forda Farm

Hurscott

Instow

from £148Instow House
from £0Mimosa

Instow Barnstaple.

from £75The Swallows

Instow Bideford

from £90The Cottage
from £157Waters Edge

Instow

from £123Midships
from £92Myrtle Loft
from £90Wayfarer Inn

Landcross

Langtree

Little Torrington

from £84Heather
from £84Lavender

Littleham

Meeth

North Devon

Northam

from £79Wyndale Barn

Northam Nr. Bideford

from £40The Shoe Box

Okehampton

from £0Furzedon B&B

Petrockstowe

from £200Sincocks Farm

Shebbear

from £123Tyrella

Shebbear. Nr Holsworthy

from £36Berry Barns

Sheepwash

from £80Half Moon Inn

Weare Giffard Nr. Bideford

from £290The Old Dairy

West Chilla

Westleigh

Westward Ho

from £59Twenty One

Westward Ho!

Winkleigh

Yelland

6

Sheepwash to Bude

Devon County Council appears unwilling to rest until every last old railway in the county has become a cycle route. For now, the route to Bude largely follows undulating minor roads, but the length of railway path is slowly increasing.

Shortly after leaving Sheepwash, there are two possible routes. Unless you’re feeling masochistic, stick to the (very pleasant) lane on the north of the Torridge valley; the route via Black Torrington is gratuitously hilly.

There’s a railway path either side of Holsworthy, and a useful supermarket in the town centre. The lanes resume, quiet and uneventful, to Bude. This is the end of the West Country Way, but not of NCN route 3; that continues on to Land’s End as the Cornish Way. You’d have to be pretty robust to tackle both in one go – but there’s nothing to stop you coming back later…

Hotels

from £60Half Moon Inn

Beaworthy

Bude

from £80An Mor
from £0An Mor Hotel
from £0Beach House
from £38Brendon Arms
from £246Bude
from £86By the Byre
from £105Casamia
from £60Globe Hotel
from £110Ocean Breeze
from £115One4two
from £76Surf Haven
from £0The Edgcumbe
from £224The Nook
from £55Tommy Jacks
from £60Tommy Jacks
from £70Upton Cross
from £77the edgcumbe

Clawton

East Chilla Nr. Halwill Junction Beaworthy

Hersham

from £93The Gilberts

Highampton

from £80Bolthole

Highampton Beaworthy

from £59Forda Farm

Holsworthy

from £100Foxglove Lodge

Holsworthy Nr. Bude

from £447Ratherton House
from £122Swallows Nest

Kilkhampton

Langtree

Launcells

Leworthy

Little Torrington

from £84Heather
from £84Lavender

Marhamchurch

from £134Salt Box

Marhamchurch

from £153Birchwood

Marhamchurch Bude

Meeth

North Cornwall

Okehampton

from £0Furzedon B&B

Pancrasweek

Petrockstowe

from £200Sincocks Farm

Poughill Bude

Poundstock Bude

from £73Cider Barn
from £71Homeleigh
from £70Millers Rest

Pyworthy Nr. Bude

from £71Barn Cottage
from £90The Cottage

Shebbear

from £123Tyrella

Shebbear. Nr Holsworthy

from £36Berry Barns

Sheepwash

from £80Half Moon Inn

Stibb

from £61Little Ashton

Stratton

from £63Pollards Way

Stratton Bude

from £91Duck House
from £73The Granary

Stratton Bude.

from £223Trew House

Stratton Near Bude

from £0Jalna

Week St Mary Nr. Bude

West Chilla

Widemouth Bay Bude

Widemouth Bay

from £50Elements

Winkleigh