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.

Glorious winter views in North Devon to visit

With the assistance of your all terrain mobility scooter, visiting the spectacular views of North Devon can be a great daytime activity this winter (if you wrap up warm!). Whilst many people believe summer is the best time to visit the attractive landscapes of North Devon, winter can boast just as many beautiful views!

Westward ho! winter beach view you can access on your all terrain mobility scooter.

Westward Ho!

Usually packed during the summer seasons, Westward Ho! takes on a beautifully peaceful atmosphere during winter, when only the locals can be occasionally seen walking their dogs or brave people are seen taking a dip in the water. The beach is easily accessible from the ramps by the amusements, with a carpark close-by, so you can venture down to the sands.

The dramatic skies that tower over the stormy waters, on windy days, can make a breath-taking landscape to admire and a perfect place to take a few snapshots. You can head over to the Pier House to enjoy their unspoilt views, with a warm drink in hand.

Appledore

Appledore is a quirky little fishing town, that looks over the opposite fishing town of Instow. Here the estuary of Torridge meets the river Taw, and unspoilt views across the water can be seen from the main high street.

Once you have admired the views across the river, you can make your way over to one of the pubs or cafes along the high street for a drink and a nibble to eat. If you’re feeling particularly cheeky, you can even indulge in an ice-cream from a Hockings van that regularly parks up in Appledore.

Instow

Instow is a little sea-side town full of undeniable charm that appeals to a lot of the locals throughout the year, and we are not surprised! The glorious white sand beach is a perfect place to visit on your all terrain mobility scooter, with ramps and flat level gates to access the beach. The beautiful views over to the quaint sea-side town of Appledore can be particularly spectacular during a sunset.  If you have a dog, who loves to play with other dogs, Instow can be a great beach to let them off; this beach is particularly popular amongst dog walkers as dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, due to it being privately owned.

From the beach, you can see spectacular views of the large foaming breakers in the distance, beside the sandy dunes of Braunton Burrows, as the ocean meets the water from the estuaries.

If you enjoy a bit of bird watching, Instow can be the perfect spot to witness wading birds such as lapwing and the golden plover. Instow has become the wintering area for birds such as these and has therefore been credited as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Ilfracombe harbour

Known as one of North Devon’s best known coastal towns Ilfracombe is a place to visit for a spectacular winter’s day. Head over to the Landmark theatre by the sea, which is a quirky and spectacular view in its own right, to enjoy a show. Or visit the unusually amazing Damien Hirst statue that stands tall against the dramatic backdrop of cliffs and coastline.

The locals of North Devon are lucky to be surrounded by stunning landscapes all year round. These are our favourite landscapes to visit… Do you agree?

Image: Andrew Bennett, available under creative commons.