• Great British Holidays

Cycle trails around Exeter Devon

Exeter is in fact surprisingly gentle, with plenty of open spaces and visible history encouraging a moment’s pause and enjoyment. It’s also compact, cupped in green surroundings, without the unappealing urban spread that commonly occurs.

There are so many unexpected discoveries, the breath-taking beauty of the great cathedral’s Gothic arches; the rough texture of the old Roman ' wall, still as it was when strolled along by sandaled Roman feet; tiny ancient churches; twisting medieval lanes; sudden bursts of art; markets and cafés proudly selling local produce; parks and gardens bright with flowers; a poem inscribed on the pavement the list goes on. Rated in surveys as one of Britain’s happiest cities in which to live, Exeter is well worth exploring.

One of Exeter’s best features is the River Exe; its broad estuary, stretching seaward, attracts a mass of birdlife and an equal mass of Exeter’s inhabitants, enjoying its leisure potential. Watersports in the waterside towns and villages are fast growing in popularity, and the new 26-mile cycle trail along its banks, from Exmouth on one side right round to Dawlish on the other, provides stunning views and some hearty exercise for both cyclists and walkers. And, while Exmouth marks the end of the estuary’s eastern bank, it also marks the start of the geologically fascinating Jurassic Coast.

The Exe Estuary Trail

There is a new 26-mile cycling and strolling trail in Exeter which extends to Exmouth along the eastern bank of the Exe Estuary, and to the extent Dawlish on the western bank. For the most part flat and off-road, it offers fantastic views over the estuary, which is a standout amongst the most imperative birdlife territories in Europe.

With the help of buses, trains and ferries, it can easily be broken into manageable stretches and even circular trails: buses from Exeter serve all the estuary towns, where bikes can usually be hired; the train from Exeter to the opposite bank. You can cycle along the one path side, then change to the other; for example, from Exmouth you could go via Lympstone to Topsham (six miles), crossing the newly installed Bridge; take a ferry from Topsham across the water to Turf Locks, pause for refreshment at the historic Turf inn and then head off to Starcross (three miles) to pick up a ferry back to Exmouth. Both ferries carry cycles.

Bluebells & Seashells