The Freetrike outreach service uses traffic free paths as close to your doorstep as possible.
Devon County Council have developed over 150 miles of these traffic free, National Cycle Network paths since the idea hatched in 1977 from an organisation called Sustrans. Devon County Council have done an incredible job of expanding, developing and maintaining a variety of these calm, level, traffic free paths that get people outdoors and into nature and society.
Below is a selection of our favorites which remain the finest in the UK.
We have graded them 1 to 5 based on ease of use. Level 1 will be smooth tarmac and level.
DEVONS` NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK and beyond
EXE ESTUARY TRAIL near Exeter
Running down both sides of the River Exe this 26 mile trail has been developed since 2001 by Devon County Council to link up all the communities along the Exe Estuary and give people the choice to travel in a way that benefits both their health and the environment. A Freetrike favorite as the east side built flanking the Exeter Exmouth railway and on the east side built alongside a canal, both paths are flat with tarmac surface and flawlessly designed to make the most of the Estuary views and communities.
DRAKES TRAIL near Tavistock
This 21 mile tarmaced path is built on the former Great Western Railway line and is an extention of the old "Plym Valley Tail" that runs north from Plymouth to Yelverton Town. The newest stretch was opened in September 2012 and has the newest and longest bridge on the whole 13,400 mile National Cycle Network. After winding through dramatic wooded valleys and over the 2.1 million pound Gem bridge the path passes through Brunels` 1859 refurnbished Grenofen tunnel which Devon County Council bought for £1!
TARKA TRAIL near Barnstaple
A 46 mile path that runs from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple to Bideford and Meeth village was developed by Devon County Council as a Country Park and opened by Prince Charles in 1992. The section from Barnstaple to Bideford was bought from British Rail for half a million pounds while the remainer was bought for £1. With stunning views over the river Taw and river Torridge the original shared path is still considered one of the best used in the UK!
GRANITE WAY near Okehampton
A 9 mile level tarmac path built on a the former Great Western railway line. The path runs traffic- free from Okehampton to Lydford Village on the Western edge of Dartmoor National Park. The path crosses stunning Brunel built bridges and offers stunning views over the Tors of Dartmoor. This path was opened by Devon |County Council in 2002 and forms part of the NCN "Route 27" which runs coast to coast from Plymouth to Ilfracombe. We meet many international cyclists on this trail, loaded up with kit for long UK Tours and plenty of conversation!
GRAND WESTERN CANAL near Tiverton
An 11 mile level towpath runs alongside this historic waterway first opened in 1814 as a plan to connect the English Channel to the Bristol Channel. It was made redundent in 1867 with the introduction of the steam train . Since then the Sommerset stretch has been forgotten and partly dismantled but fortunately the Devon section was purchased and saved from becoming landfill by Devon County Council in 1971.
It remains a stunning Country Park and Nature Reserve with a well maintained path riding through beautiful villages and taking in stunning wildlife. We also use the Taunton Bridgewater path..see below.
STOVER WAY near Newton Abbott
Opened in 2015 the Stover Way is a traffic-free route which connects Newton Abbot to Bovey Tracey. Created as part of the Granite and Gears project, this flat route passes alongside the beautiful Stover Country Park and will eventually extend towards Lustleigh and Moretonhampstead in Dartmoor National Park.
TAUNTON - BRIDGEWATER CANAL Somerset
Opened in 1827 this remaining northern section of the Grand Western Canal runs 14.5 miles from Taunton under the M5 and northbound to Bridgewater. The tow path is in good condition and suitable for trikes. Now cut off from the Tiverton canal to the South its` main attracction is a 530 million:1 scale model of the solar system called the Somerset Space Walk that runs in both directions from Mausel Lock where there is a large model of the sun. The tow path is part of the NCN route 3.
TORBAY VELOPARK- Paignton, Devon
Torbay Velopark was opened in June 2014 funded by Torbay Council and British Cycling.
It offers a one way 1.5km high- grade tarmac circuit with adjacent disability parking and toilet facilities. For carers, there is a cafe, swimming pool, local beach and dog walks.
Haldon Forest Park, South Of Exeter
Opened in 2003 Haldon is managed by the Forestry Commission and offers a range of trails of different grades from green to red. We love using the Family trail which winds through woodland with a
spectacular viewpoint over Exeter city and the Exe Estuary. The site offers a cafe and disabled toilets.