Accessible Tarka Trail Highlights

Last Bridge To Bideford
CC by Andrew (Last Bridge To Bideford)

The Tarka Trail is a beautiful walking and cycling route spanning North and West Devon, as well as Torridge. The trail is one of the most extensive dedicated walking and cycling paths in the country and has an array of highlights along the route. This blog will explore some of those attractions that are wheelchair-accessible, and will hopefully encourage you to visit some of them for yourself.

Most people think of the Tarka Trail as only consisting of the 30-mile stretch between Braunton and Meeth. However, the full Tarka Trail is actually a figure of eight around Devon, reaching from Bideford to Exmoor, and from Exmoor to the tip of Dartmoor. In total, the trail is over 160 miles in length, with many attractions along the way. This blog will include the extended 160-mile trail’s attractions.

The Trail

Obviously, the main attraction on the Tarka Trail is the trail itself. With the 30-mile path from Braunton to Meeth being accessible to wheelchairs, there’s plenty for those to see along this stunning stretch. See some of the beautiful sights along the route, like the vast Taw-Torridge Estuary along with its over 20,000 occasional migratory waders, or Beam Estate – the birthplace of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter. The Tarka Trail has some fantastic sights accessible to wheelchairs, so next time you’re nearby, take a look! We promise you won’t regret it.

Instow Signal Box & Bideford Railway Centre

This little part of British railway history is situated on the Bideford part of the Tarka Trail. These places offer a peek into the past for people who are interested in railways and their history. Sadly, no trains have run between Bideford and Barnstaple station since 1982 – if you don’t count the time in 2011 where model trains completed the route. Either way, this attraction is a fantastic slice of British rail history that’s mostly wheelchair accessible and is definitely worth a look.

Queen’s Theatre

Nearby to the Tarka Trail in Barnstaple, the first-rate Queen’s Theatre is situated. Come here to watch some fantastic performers, eat some good food, and generally have a good time. The theatre has accessible seats and provides free tickets for carers. If the theatre is something that interests you, this is the place to go.

Arlington Court

Situated within the north loop of the extended Tarka Trail, Arlington Court is an early 19th-century manor house with a beautiful garden and some brilliant architecture. There are plenty of exciting things to see at the house, most of which are accessible with manual wheelchairs or small mobility scooters. The National Trust owns the house, and parking is very reasonable. Most of the garden is accessible – but some of the paths are formed of gravel, so you may need a more robust scooter if you want to explore the whole garden. If you’re interested in being able to traverse more rough paths like this, consider buying or hiring one of our all-terrain mobility scooters.

Exmoor Zoo

Exmoor Zoo is a brilliant attraction near the north-eastern part of the Tarka Trail. There’s a fantastic range of flora and fauna available for you to see here, including the only pair of black leopards on display in the UK. The zoo is very accessible for wheelchair users, with the majority of the paths made from concrete, and the rest being scree. Exmoor Zoo is a wonderful day out for the entire family – something that everyone will enjoy from nine to ninety! If you’re looking for a fun, cheap, and educational day out, then this is the place to go!

Meerkats at the zoo

High Streets

If shopping is your thing, then the high streets of towns like Barnstaple and Bideford are for you. Situated closeby to the Tarka Trail, these places have everything from fashion retailers to unique antique shops. The locations are mostly wheelchair accessible, and parking is usually quite wheelchair friendly.

We hope that we’ve inspired you to visit the Tarka Trail. Thanks for reading this blog, and, whilst you’re here, why don’t you check out our previous blog for more attractions around North Devon.

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Wheelchair innovation allows wheelchair users to enjoy the sea

Advances in technology have allowed people to explore new, and previously difficult, places with the use of all terrain mobility scooters. We previously reported about how these nifty chairs allowed a disabled mountaineer to rediscover his love for the countryside. All terrain mobility scooters are perfect for off-road adventures, which allow people to make the most of the great outdoors and enjoy visits to the beach, with easy steering, turning circles and all terrain wheels which make for easy driving.

Beach, All terrain mobility scooters, Wheelchairs, Innovation

Standard wheelchairs are also starting to see innovative advances to make more places accessible for disabled people.

Sandbanks, in Poole, have been testing out floating wheelchairs that allow wheelchair users to have a more interactive experience with the beach.

Sandbanks have acquired floating beach wheelchairs that are made up of aluminium and stainless steel frames, secure harnesses and buoyancy aids. The innovative wheelchair allows wheelchair users to go into the sea, as the chair acts as a support for floating or swimming from, with the use of the secure harness and buoyancy aids.

The Borough of Poole beach team leader, Tracey Moore, said: “They have been a huge success, and very well received by both local people and visitors to the beaches of Poole…. We have received a lot of interest in the Floating Wheelchairs and it has been lovely to see people, who have unfortunately been unable to go into the sea previously, enjoy the experience.”

This ‘Life’s a Beach’ project was funded by Tesco and Groundwork’s Initiative ‘Bags of Help’, where they were awarded £10,000 due to the token scheme vote by Tesco shoppers.

The success of this project could be the start of wheelchair users being able to enjoy a dip in the sea around the UK, including Devon, if the project is picked up. Meanwhile, a brilliant range of all terrain mobility scooters gives you the freedom to travel to explore a variety of places, including our beautiful Devon beaches.