180 Miles and it all leads to The Station Masters Cafe!
Inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter, this 180 mile, figure eight route traverses unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches. The southern loop incorporates the longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK. Walking or cycling, you can experience the best this beautiful area has to offer.
The Tarka Trail was established in 1987 as the Taw/Torridge Country Park using the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford.
The railway line was purchased for £515,000 in 1986-87 from British Rail. In 1989, the remainder of the line between Bideford and Meeth was acquired in its entirety by Devon County Council for £1.
Conversion of this section to a footpath was enabled by a £60,000 Derelict Land Grant from central government in 1989-90, plus a further £100,000 from Devon County Council and the Countryside Commission in 1990-91. A large proportion of the money was needed to adapt and repair bridges across the River Torridge.
Parish councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities and the National Trust played a part in the development of the rest of the Trail which makes use of the Two Moors Way and the South West Coast path to traverse through open countryside, woodland, coastal paths and beaches. Their co-operation ensured minimal environmental impacts while retaining a large degree of accessibility to the Trail. And of course, the Otter Conservation Officer was involved to ensure there would be no disturbance to otters where the Trail followed water courses.
The section between Barnstaple and Bideford was opened on 21 May 1991 and was made into a combined footpath and cyclepath. The section from Barnstaple to Meeth was named the Tarka Country Park. Once the southern circuit was also incorporated, the Trail spanned 180 miles (290 km). It was opened by Prince Charles in May 1992. The Tarka Country Park identity was finally subsumed by the Tarka Trail in 1994. The route to Meeth was converted into a cycle/walkway in 1997.
On the 23rd September 2020 we held our first Macmillan coffee morning here at Station Masters Cafe. It was wonderful seeing so many familiar and new faces. Homemade cakes, delicious coffee and a great raffle helped us raise £250 even though we had to...
12th July 2012 Saw BBC Radio Devon broadcast live from our café for around 3 hours- we heard the immortal words “ This is the BBC, Broadcasting live from Barnstaple Railway Station”. Live interviews with local people, music from local groups and ...
The most recent charter train was a GWR full HST set on April 17th 2016. This created a lot of attention for the line, several such trains have visited Barnstaple in the past. This was hoped it could prove the infrastructure was already in place to a...