Tarka Trail


  • Who was Tarka the Otter?
    Tarka was a fictional otter in a novel by Henry Williamson published in 1927. While Tarka is the focal point, the book goes into detail about the beautiful surroundings Tarka lived his life in. The book has been adapted into film and an opera and has more recently been adapted into a children’s book. Find out more
  • Are there still otters in the area?
    There are many otters living along the Tarka Trail, in particular in the areas around the River Torridge. Here is an article on how best to spot otters. The Wildlife Trust has more information on Otters.
  • Who owns the Tarka Trail?
    The Tarka Trail is not owned by any single organisation. Some sections of land are privately owned with public access. Some sections run through towns and villages such as Barnstaple, Okehampton and Lynton. The trail shares paths with the South West Coast Path, the Two Moors way and Route 27 and 3 of the National Cycle Network. Sections run into Exmoor National Park, Dartmoor National Park and National Trust land. Funding comes from a variety of local organisations.
  • What maps cover the Tarka Trail?
    The Tarka Trail features in a number of OS Explorer maps, including 139, 126, 127, 113 and OL 9. visit the Ordnance Survey website for more information.
  • Are there any guide books?
    There are lots of guide books available for walking and cycling routes. Here is a link to a few on Amazon
  • Will I need a compass, walking boots and other outdoor gear?
    Parts of the southern loop around Okehampton and back up to Eggesford will require a compass and outdoor gear as will the section between Barnstaple and Lynton. The South West Coast Path and the old railway sections are fairly easy to follow, but will still require warm and waterproof clothing in the winter.
  • Are any sections dangerous?
    Many sections are near water so will require care. Parts of the South West Coast Path are exposed to cliff edges and steep drops, but are used safely by many people on a daily basis. There has been some damage to some of the South West Coast Path due to erosion and bad weather. In these cases, the path will either be closed or a diversion will be in place. Some of the more rural, inland routes can become very muddy and difficult to walk on after heavy rains, so a compass or GPS would be useful in the event of having to detour.
  • Are the routes suitable for dogs?
    Surfaces can change from flat tarmac to craggy cliff walks. There are many sections which pass through working farmland with grazing sheep and cattle, where dogs will need to be under close control. When crossing fences, some stiles do not have dog facilities so your dog may need to climb or be carried over. Not all accommodation on route will accept dogs. The old railway section between Braunton and Meeth is perfectly safe for dogs, but take care to avoid cyclists.
  • Are there any organised or guided holidays?
    There are several companies that can arrange organised holidays. Some also offer guided holidays. There are some listed on the holiday companies page.
  • What’s the best way to get around?
    Sadly, there are very few trains operating around North Devon, but there are plenty of bus operators that cover the majority of the trail. Take a look at our public transport page for more information. As some of the starting points for walks are rural and remote, car remains the best way to access most places. Parking in smaller villages and on many B roads is quite limited, but most of the A roads have parking places and the larger towns have ample parking. Some popular locations such as Fremington Quay and Instow will fill up quickly on a nice day.