Cycling Drakes Trail from Tavistock to Yelverton

Gem bridge on Drake's trail

The Drakes Trail cycle path has been created from the old railway line between Plymouth and Tavistock. The railway engineers did a fine job in selecting a route that meanders around hills, and built bridges that crossed steep valleys, so it is ideal for cycling through the very scenic countryside without being challenged by too many steep gradients.

As most of the route is off road, and on well kept tarmac, it is suitable for all ages and makes an ideal trip for the whole family. It can get slippery when the fallen leaves turn to a wet mush in Autumn so I use a mountain bike then, however this trail is great for road bikes, but be careful of the occasional cattle grids!

Also be aware that this is a very popular walk so you are likely to come across dog walkers and people of all ages, some of whom struggle to hear your bell as you come up behind them.

I normally start this cycle from the Morrisons supermarket in Tavistock and take a loop up a fairly steep hill towards Yelverton before joining the trail back to Tavistock again, as you will see in the directions that follow. All in all, though,this is a delightful cycle route and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.


Drakes trail by Morrisons in Tavistock

Make your way to Morrisons supermarket on the Plymouth side of Tavistock and you will see this cycle and pedestrian path when you cross over the rood at the nearby pedestrian crossing.

The path wends its way through the housing estate, so keep your eyes peeled for the signs for National Cycle Route 27 which direct you towards the entrance to Drakes Trail on the outskirts of Tavistock.

The start of Drakes trail in Tavistock

You enter Drakes Trail at this gate. The track is well made with some shingle, but most of it is laid to tarmac and as there are mostly just gentle inclines, it is ideal for young children. You keep on the track until you arrive at Grenofen tunnel.

Grenofen tunnel on Drake's trail

Grenofen tunnel must be about a quarter of a mile long. There are plenty of lights in the tunnel, but it can still be quite dark and gloomy so it is sensible to have turn your lights on, if you have them.

When it has been raining, significant amounts of water drips through the tunnel ceiling so all in all it is quite an experience cycling through it. It is fun though!

Crossing Gem bridge on Drake's trail

Emerging from the tunnel, you will soon come across Gem Bridge. This is an impressive new bridge that replaces the old viaduct that spanned the River Walkham valley. As you can see, it slopes upwards gently when cycling towards Yelverton, but it is always worthwhile stopping in the middle to admire the views towards Sampford Spiney.

Drakes Trail continues towards Yelverton

You cross Magpie Viaduct next and then continue along the trail until you reach a small number of houses, that are built on what used to be Horrabridge station. As you go over the cattle grid, you come across a road. You now have a choice of route.

You can carry on along the trail on the other side of the road, as you can see in the picture above. This leads up a reasonably steep slope to Yelverton and is the one to take if you want to minimise your time on the road, particularly with children.

I generally turn right and head up the hill along the road as it creates a circular route that leads back to this position along the trail. Head up the hill and continue until you take the left hand turn when you see a sign for Yelverton. Carry on along this road until you arrive at the T junction where you turn left towards Yelverton.

Near the entrance to Drake's trail in Yelverton

You will soon see a car parking area on the left hand side just before the 30 mile an hour signs. Go through this car park and take the path that leads back down the hill. You can see what it looks like in the picture above.

You are now on the way back towards Tavistock so just follow the same route and enjoy the views and the down hill cycling!

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