Friday, 29 December 2017

A Weekend Break in Bideford, Devon (cycling the Tarka trail from Bideford to Meeth, and back)

As mentioned a few posts ago, I have a wealth of material from earlier in the year which I didn't have time (at the time) to process and post, but with a few days on my hands before going back to work, and still trying to fight off the man-flu, it's about time I put that right. The first of these retrospective posts will focus on a weekend break we had in Devon, Bideford to be precise, and the first of the Bideford posts will focus on a cycle ride we did along the magnificent Tarka Trail, a former railway now converted into a quite wonderful cycle path.

I must however first start with a small apology. We actually did two rides along the Tarka Trail from Bideford. The first was south from Bideford, which is covered by the majority of the photos, but we also cycled north which for some reason only seems to have a few photos where I'm sure I took more. The apology is that I fear I may have mixed some of these up and am not sure of the location of all of them - I think these are all from the ride between Bideford and Meeth. I'm very clear on the first one however, this is the old bridge carrying the former railway into Bideford station.

Former railway bridge, now home to the Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Former railway bridge, now home to the Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon 

Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon

Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon

This next picture shows one of Bideford's two former railway stations. Although not very far from the main station, the Royal Hotel had its own station allowing guests easy access. Both platforms remain and are in reasonable condition, although the one opposite the hotel is a little overgrown.

The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon
The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon 

The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon
The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon

This is Bideford station proper, parts of which have now been restored (see pictures further down in this post).

The former railway station, Bideford, Devon
The former railway station, Bideford, Devon

Where parts of the railway has been preserved, there is some wonderful railwayana (is that a word). This is a restored but disused signal just south of Bideford. You can also just see some re-laid tracks in the foreground, but these peter-out before long and I think are only there to allow the carriages which house the museum and tea rooms to have somewhere to sit.

Restored but disused signal, Bideford, Devon
Restored but disused signal, Bideford, Devon

This is where things begin to get a bit blurred. This is definitely on the route south from Bideford to Meeth, but not sure exactly where. Still, it's another fine example of a disused platform.

Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Along the side of the former track bed there were some wonderful Gaudi-like sculptures, depicting animals from Tarka the Otter.

Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford


Cycling the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Cycling the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

I'm pretty sure this is just outside Meeth, which was as far as we cycled south along the Tarka Trail.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, former railway platform just outside Meeth, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, former railway platform just outside Meeth, Devon

There's no mistaking this one though. This is the truly wonderful Puffing Billy café, situated at the former Great Torrington station. It was so good that we stopped for a bacon sandwich on the outward ride in the morning, and again for a cream tea on the return leg. Good for railwayana fans and cream tea connoisseurs alike.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Puffing Billy Trading Station, Great Torrington, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Puffing Billy Trading Station, Great Torrington, Devon

Of all the picture I took during our 40 mile round trip, this one is probably my favourite. Ok, so it's a bit staged with the milk churns there for historical purposes only, but I felt it captured the essence of a branch line railway quite well. Nice sky too.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, milk churns at the former Bideford station
Cycling the Tarka Trail, milk churns at the former Bideford station

I managed to take a picture of the restored signal box on the same evening.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, restored signal box, Bideford, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, restored signal box, Bideford, Devon

I think these final two pictures must have been taken on a different day as the weather and light are both quite different. They both however show the restored railway carriages sitting on some re-laid track in the former Bideford station. Inside the carriages are a museum and tea-room.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon

 I do have some more pictures of Bideford off the Tarka Trail so to speak, so I may get around to sharing those in the next few days.,

    

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read my post, I hope you enjoyed it. As usual, comments are always welcome and appreciated.

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