Family cycle routes in Devon

Devon – what a county….. They’ve got it all – stunning coast lines, rugged moorland, rolling hills, rivers, canals, forests, historic cities and cream teas! No wonder it’s a brilliant place to take the family cycling.

Whether you’re a local family, looking for a quick bike ride out, or are from further afield planning a day trip or a longer holiday with the kids, there’s bound to be a family friendly cycle route to suit.

Here’s our pick of Devon’s finest traffic, free family friendly cycle routes, plus some books and maps (and some places to stay if you’re planning a longer trip) Don’t forget to send us your favourites if we’ve missed them off…….

Exeter Quay, Topsham and Turf Locks

This level route is virtually all traffic free, making it ideal for family cycling. The route starts in the heart of historic Exeter, and then passes through the city along the new Exe Estuary Trail – part of the National Cycle Network route 2 (NCN2)
The route then passes through Exeter Quay before heading to the ancient seafaring port of Topsham. You will cycle past RSPB reserves and beside the Exeter canal and also pass a few locks.  There’s plenty therefore to keep the kids interested along this flat route, which is a there and back ride (approx a 9 mile round trip to Topsham). Always be mindful of when you’re off spring need to turn back.

Further details and a map can be found on the this pdf produced by Devon County Council (route 7).

Halton Forest Park, near Exeter

Located just 15 minutes outside of Exeter, Halton Forest Park has great off road family cycling, what ever the age of your children.

The Discovery Trail (1.5 miles) is a brilliant place to take very young cyclists who are just getting the hang of riding.  There are fun features along the route for children, regular resting points and some stunning views.  This level, well surfaced trail uses the ‘Access for All’ standard suitable for wheelchairs and prams.

 The Challenge Trail has two loops of 6 miles and 7.5 miles and is an ideal for kids ready to ride that bit further. It has a combination of surfaces, with some narrow sections plus gentle gradients.

For older and more experienced kids there is a Skills Area, which is purpose-built to help cyclists develop new off-road skills, with numerous features for all abilities from novice to advance riders. There are also two hard mountain bike routes for when the kids are out pedalling the parents!

For more details visit the Forestry Commission website.

Devon Coast to Coast Route (National Cycle Network Route 27)

This Sustran’s route, as the name suggests, spans Devon from north to south.  Some of the route is on road, but there are long stretches that are off road.

 The following parts of the route are traffic free, and are ideal for family cycling. They are obviously all there-and-back routes, which mean you can pick how long you choose to ride for in each direction.

The Granite Way (Okehampton to Lydford)

11 miles one way, this route has plenty to keep the kids entertained – a viaduct, a castle, a dam, possible steam trains and stunning views of Dartmoor. This informative pdf  gives full details of The Granite Way and the attractions along it

The Tarka Trail Cycle Route (Braunton to Meeth)

A brilliant one for the kids this, the Tarka Trail is named after Tarka the Otter (written in 1937 by Henry Williamson), who  had many adventures in this part of Devon.

The Tarka Trail follows disused railway lines, and the route from Braunton to Meeth via Barnstable and Bideford is all off road. This is a whopping 32 mile stretch, so there is plenty of places to join the route and have a great days cycling with the kids.  This downloadable map from Devon County Council shows the Tarka Trail route in much more detail.

The Plym Valley Cycle Trail (Clearbrook to Plymouth)

This 7 mile stretch of off road cycle path follows the route of a now disused railway. The bike ride goes from Plymouth Hoe through changing countryside to the wilds of Dartmoor. More information of the route can be found in this PDF of Devon cycle routes.

Devon Cycling Books and Maps

There are a number of book and maps available to help you cycle with the kids in Devon.

Where to stay with the kids in Devon

Being a popular holiday destination, there’s plenty of child friendly accommodation in Devon.

Marsdens Holiday Cottages specialise in accommodation in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, and allow you to filter for child friendly accommodation.  They have recently won the North Devon Tourism Awards.

As you’d expect, both Hoseasons and Cottages Online have loads of holiday accommodation in Devon, although they do tend to book up quickly during school holidays (especially if the weather forecast is good!)

Need more information about family cycle routes in Devon?

Devon County Council produce this downloadable PDF containing 8 cycle rides in Devon, and at the back is a form for requesting free leisure maps for the routes you’re interested in.

For all things cycle related in Devon, then check out the Cycle Devon website. They have interactive maps and lots of ideas on where to ride, bike hire and cycle shops.

Many thanks to Heather Baker from Saddles and Paddles for help in compiling this guide. Saddles and Paddles is a family friendly bike shop suitated in Exeter’s historic quayside 

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