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Cycling breaks in Devon

Inspired by the rash of cycling medals picked up by Britain at the 2012 Olympics and following an unprecedented victory by British cyclist Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France, there has never been a better time to dust off your wheels and take a cycling break in Devon.
Dartmoor National Park is better known as a destination for hikers, but it has safe designated routes for cyclists, traffic-free cycle trails, quiet forest tracks and challenging bridle ways to test all 24 gears of your mountain bike to the limit. For casual cyclists eager to take it easy, the historic rural lanes of Devon are perfect for exploring at your own pace.

Devon’s Coast to Coast Cycle Trail

Avid followers of the Tour of Britain can follow in the tyre tracks of the Coast to Coast Stage which runs from Barnstaple to Dartmouth. The route climbs from Barnstaple to Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor National Park then crosses Dartmoor via the wilds of Princetown, dropping down to genteel Ashburton and Buckfastleigh before heading down to the coast at Dartmouth. The total journey is around 89 miles, so you may want to choose to cycle it in stages, or just complete part of the trip, depending upon where you are based.

Cycling and mountain biking on Dartmoor

If you prefer to plan your own day trips, the map “Dartmoor for Cyclists: For Off-Road Cycling and Cycle Touring” shows all the paths and tracks and helpfully grades and colour-codes them making it easy to identify paths suitable for your own ability. The map is available from most Information Centres in the area. One thing cyclists and mountain bikers are not allowed to do is ride on the open moorland of the national park and it is a criminal offence to do so where there is no right of way markers.

Another excellent cycle route devised by the Dartmoor National Park Authority offers a 12-mile intermediate/difficult circuit from Princetown taking in the scenic Burrator Reservoir and South Hessary Tor. A copy of this leaflet, entitled “Granite and Gears – Princetown and Burrator” is available to download for free.

Family-friendly cycle routes

Those choosing to stay in South Devon should head for the Plym Valley Cycle Route which is a 7-mile family-friendly cycle ride each way. It starts from the Marsh Mills Roundabout near Plympton and heads towards Dartmoor, finishing at Clearbrook near Yelverton. It follows a former railway line and crosses many bridges and viaducts with superb scenery along the way.

The Granite Way is another recommended family cycle route, again following a former railway line between Okehampton and Lydford. Superb viaducts, spectacular views and plenty of Devon wildlife are all part of this 11-mile route.

Bike hire in Devon

If you don’t fancy hauling your wheels down to Devon by train or car, there are several bike rental companies in and around Dartmoor National Park including CRS Adventures, Devon Cycle Hire on the Granite Way or Adventure Okehampton.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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