Tarka Trail

Tarka Trail

A walk through Exmoor National Park and along the heritage coast, beginning and ending in Barnstaple.

7 to 9 nights
83 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding

From £1000 per person

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About this route

7 to 9 nights
83 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £1000 per person

Tarka Trail

The complete Tarka Trail is a figure of eight walk centred on Barnstaple. We offer walking holidays along the scenic northern loop, where the trail combines the ancient oakwoods, heather-covered hills and secluded river valleys of Exmoor with one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the country. Between beaches of golden sand, secluded coves tuck in behind lofty headlands and waterfalls plunge into the sea.

These gorgeous landscapes are alive with wildlife: Exmoor ponies, horned sheep and roe deer; kestrel, skylark and heron; and of course the elusive otter – relatives of Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, perhaps, after whom the trail is named. The Tarka Trail is a wonderfully fulfilling walking holiday, supported by charming villages.

Standard
Interactive
© Contours Walking Holidays Tarka Trail map
Circular trail beginning at Barnstaple
83 miles (133 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Visiting the largest sand dune system in England, Braunton Burrows, famously featured in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter.

Following the wonderful coastline between Lynmouth and Ilfracoombe, including ‘Great Hangman,’ the highest point on the South West Coast Path.

Admiring the variety of rich environments, from North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve, the heather-covered expanse of Exmoor and the Taw Estuary.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
TARK1 A circular trail beginning at Barnstaple 7 nights, 6 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1000
TARK2 A circular trail beginning at Barnstaple 8 nights, 7 days walking Moderate £1120
TARK3 A circular trail beginning at Barnstaple 9 nights, 8 days walking Moderate £1250

Tarka Trail 7 nights, 6 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather
  • Holiday Highlights

Important information

This tour is available to book all year, however out of season from November to March, there may be a small supplement for luggage moves, which will be moved by taxi rather than the usual luggage courier.

Start

Travel to Barnstaple where your first night's accommodation will be booked

Day 1

Barnstaple to West Buckland(T). 11 miles (18km)

Day 2

West Buckland(T) to Challacombe(T). 12.5 miles (20km)

Day 3

Challacombe(T) to Heddon's Mouth(L). 18 miles (29km)

Day 4

Heddon's Mouth(L) to Ilfracombe. 12.5 miles (20km)

Day 5

Ilfracombe to Croyde. 14.5 miles (23km)

Day 6

Croyde to Barnstaple. 14.5 miles (23km)

Finish

Depart from Barnstaple after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation in most cases; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard if practical. A very limited number of stops will require you to travel on foot up to two miles off the trail, however these instances will be clearly communicated to you if applicable.

Further transfers may also be required due to some accommodations having a two-night minimum booking policy, especially at weekends.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£75.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£60.00 per person / per night


You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Heddon's Mouth(L))
Price on request
Standard
Interactive
© Contours Walking Holidays Tarka Trail map
Circular trail beginning at Barnstaple
83 miles (133 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Visiting the largest sand dune system in England, Braunton Burrows, famously featured in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter.

Following the wonderful coastline between Lynmouth and Ilfracoombe, including ‘Great Hangman,’ the highest point on the South West Coast Path.

Admiring the variety of rich environments, from North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve, the heather-covered expanse of Exmoor and the Taw Estuary.

What's included?

  • 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

If you would like to extend your holiday, spend more time exploring the sights and sounds of North Devon and the Tarka Trail, or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere, an extra night is the perfect solution.

Barnstaple is a good choice for a rest day. It is a lovely old market town with some fine buildings, a few interesting shops and an entertaining museum. The Pannier indoor market operates 6 days per week under splendid architecture. The market has been operating since Saxon times, but has remained unchanged for around 150 years.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Heddon's Mouth(L))
Price on request

Tour Facts

Total distance: 83 miles (133 km)
Duration: 7 nights, 6 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 11 miles (18 km)
Maximum daily distance: 18 miles (29 km)
Code: TARK1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Barnstaple
End of holiday: Barnstaple

Route Profile

Tarka Trail Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air

The most convenient major city and international airports are Exeter and Bristol.

By Rail

There is a rail station at Barnstaple.

By Bus

Various bus services run to and from Barnstaple.

From London

Trains run from London Paddington station to Barnstaple.

Return to Start

The Tarka Trail is a circular tour beginning and ending in Barnstaple.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.
"Lee Bay, Devon" by Jutta Orth (2019) "Lee Bay, Devon" by Jutta Orth (2019)
"On the Way to Ilfracombe" by Jutta Orth (2019) "On the Way to Ilfracombe" by Jutta Orth (2019)
"On the Way to Combe Martin" by Juergen Kalinski (2019) "On the Way to Combe Martin" by Juergen Kalinski (2019)
"December Colours on Exmoor" by Juergen Kalinski (2019) "December Colours on Exmoor" by Juergen Kalinski (2019)
"Approaching Ilfracombe" by Juergen Kalinski (2019) "Approaching Ilfracombe" by Juergen Kalinski (2019)
"The Red Devons are Watching" by Juergen Kalinski (2019) "The Red Devons are Watching" by Juergen Kalinski (2019)
"Between North Molton and Simonsbath" by Michael Vogel (2018) "Between North Molton and Simonsbath" by Michael Vogel (2018)

Customer reviews from the Tarka Trail

“Well organized, good communications and explanation. Beautiful scenery and comfortable places to stay. We really had a lovely holiday.”
Mrs Vermue, Netherlands
“It was a great experience and the trail is really nice! Regarding the accommodations, they were all really good in their own right.”
Mr Rutten, Netherlands
“Altogether we had an enjoyable holiday with great walks, good weather, nice B&B/ Hotels, perfect luggage transport. Thank you very much for organizing our holiday.”
Mrs Marshall, UK
“Nice mix between very different landscapes. Weather (outside the control of all) was excellent. Accommodation was of good to excellent quality. Transfers (taxis and luggage) were reliable. When I am next in the UK would book with Contours for sure - as usual indeed.”
Mr Bayley, UK
“Changing terrain with great views made for an enjoyable walk. We were also lucky with the weather which aded to the experience.”
Mr Stagg, UK
“Very well organised and nice places to stay. Great variety of countryside and coastline.”
Mr Hicks, UK
“Walk route very scenic enjoyed the week.”
Mr Barbour, UK
“We had a great time and have great memories of our walking holiday in North Devon, and thanks again for arranging everything so well for us.”
Mrs Seddon, UK
“We had a wonderful time. Thank you so much. I doubt we ever could have found such great places to stay on our own. We will definitely use Contours again.”
Mr Vogel, USA
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