Spring is a brilliant time to the get outside and explore on two wheels. It’s a great way to get some fresh coastal and countryside air in your lungs and feel healthy to boot. So we’ve asked a local expert to share with you her top route plans for beginners and more experienced riders too
My name is Lauren and I live and work in Woolacombe. Having only cycled at a very slow social pace previously, I took up cycling last year. It started with a few rides along the local Tarka Trail. It soon started to feel good and in no time I considered myself a pro and ready for a challenge. My friend Aimee suggested the London to Paris cycle and within days we were signed up… 300 miles to cycle in 4 days!
Here are some of the training routes we discovered around the local area to prepare us for the ride:
Route 1: ‘Braunton Loop’
Leave Woolacombe, head to Georgeham, Croyde, Saunton, Braunton, Mullacott and back to Woolacombe. A great route with a good mix of slow hill climbs and amazing views coming through Croyde through to Braunton. An elevation climb of up to 600ft. Tour length: 20 miles
Route 2: ‘Combe Martin Loop’
Leave Woolacombe, head to Mullacott, Two Potts, along the A3123, then down into Combe Martin, Watermouth, Hele, Ilfracombe, Mullacott and back to Woolacombe. A great route, with combined countryside and coastal roads. Beautiful views, and an elevation climb of just under 900ft. A few slow steep inclines to get your teeth into. Tour length: 25 miles
Route 3: ‘Braunton to Bratton Fleming Loop’
Leave Braunton, head for Barnstaple, Goodleigh, Snapper, Bratton Fleming, onto the A3123 by Kentisbury, head for Mullacott, then to Georgeham, Croyde, Saunton and back to Braunton. Cars can be parked in Braunton car park, with easy access straight onto the Tarka Trail to take you to Barnstaple. A mix of country roads and main roads. Some good climbs to build up the fitness level. Finish off with a coffee at The Riverside Café in Braunton. An elevation climb of just under 1100ft. Tour length: 40 miles
Route 4: ‘Tarka Trail’
Leave from Braunton and follow the tarka trail to Barnstaple, Fremington, Instow, Bideford, Torrington and back. An old railway track so the route is flat, apart from a slow incline in places with a maximum elevation of 185ft. The route runs along the estuary through to Bideford, then along the river to Torrington. Suitable for children along this route also and the length you cycle can be as long or short as you like. Great stop off at Fremington Quay for lunch and cake, or The Instow Arms for a great pub lunch.Tour length: 40 miles
Route 5: ‘South Molton Loop’
Leave Woolacombe head to Mullacott, Two Potts, along the A3123, right onto the A399, all the way along past Brayford to South Molton A361 roundabout, straight over heading for Filleigh, Swimbridge, Landkey, Barnstaple, Braunton, Mullacott and back to Woolacombe. This one’s a personal favourite. Some stunning roads with breath-taking views, through quarries, and rural villages. Keep your eye out for Filleigh Manor House. A brilliant ride to let escape it all for a few hours. An elevation climb of 1070ft. Tour length: 50 miles
Route 6: ‘Barnstaple to Exeter Loop’
Leave from Barnstaple, Bishops Tawton, Eggesford, Lapford, Copplestone, Crediton, Cowley Bridge, Exeter and back. You can park your car in the train station car park in Barnstaple. The route runs alongside the Barnstaple to Exeter train at some points, lovely countryside cycle with outstanding views. Well worth cycling into Exeter and stopping for lunch at Exeter Quayside. There are some quaint cafes amongst the cobbles and often some activity’s taking place on the river to watch. An elevation climb of 450ft. Tour length: 80 miles
‘London to Paris’
We certainly didn’t do a loop with this one… it took months of training in all weathers but keep reading to find out about our amazing charity cycle ride. Tour length: 300 miles
We completed the London to Paris in June 2014, and it was the by far the best experience yet. Cycling through the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and onto the Eiffel Tower was unbelievably emotional.
Now when I look back the feeling of pain I’m know I endured in my legs and muscles and the feeling of total exhaustion is a distant memory. I am just left with the best memories ever!
I pushed myself to physical limits I had never reached before. I met and made friends with some great people. I was lucky enough to cycle through the most beautiful countryside.
I achieved something and had so much fun along the way, I cannot recommend any kind of life challenge enough. We also managed to raise a total of £4,600 for our chosen charity ‘North Devon Hospice’.
Day 1: London to Dover:
Day 2: Calais to Arras:
Day 3: Arras to Compiegne:
Day 4: Compiegne to Paris: