Picture this: The Tarka Trail…

Named after the otter in Henry Williamson’s book, and originally conceived as the Taw and Torridge Country Park, the stretch of disused railway tracks and surrounding land between Barnstaple and Bideford was bought from British Rail in 1987, and the 180 mile footpath and cycle network that exists today was finally extended – to Braunton in one direction, and Meeth in the other – in 1992, when it was officially opened by HRH Prince of Wales.
It finally became the Tarka Trail in 1994.

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You will see signs for the National cycle network (route 27) all over the area and we frequently use the trail, not for anything strenuous like cycling you understand, but as the section nearest us runs alongside the river Taw, (the same river that runs through Rock Park) it’s very pleasant to walk out towards Braunton and feed the ducks, coots, moorhens and swans that gather in the wildfowl reserves which line the old railway beds.

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I have been taking photos along this stretch of the trail for several years, and as we were out there again today meeting and feeding the new cygnet as mum and dad kept a wary eye on us, I thought I’d share some with you.

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You can see signs of the past life of the trail, with railway artifacts still visible here and there..

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..and livestock grazing in the lush wetlands between the old tracks and the estuary.

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There’s plenty of wildlife to see here, particularly on the lake that was built with nesting waterfowl in mind, with reed beds and low, overhanging trees making an ideal nursery for many types of birds.

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A small jetty at one end of the lake allows visitors to be surrounded by grateful beaks just waiting to be fed…

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..some more forward than others.

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Are you going to feed me then?

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… Well?

The gulls will even take food on the wing..

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..and there’s always s fight for the last few crumbs.

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The landscape around the trail always has something to catch the eye..

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..which is why we keep going back.

If you want more information about the Tarka Trail go here.

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