There is no doubt about it, the 27 National Cycle Route is brilliant for cyclists. The best part of this route that I have cycled so far is definitely the segment that runs along the old railway between Lydford and Okehampton. It is so scenic and is a joy to cycle because there are no major inclines and that is very rare in this part of Devon.
I also encountered fewer walkers and other cyclists on this segment compared to the Drakes’s Trail, so this route is highly suitable for the whole family. It would be a joy to take a picnic and turn the return journey between Lydford and Okehampton into a leisurely day out, as long as the weather is decent.
This cycle route is only about 16 miles (26km) long and only ascends a total of 800 feet (260m) over that distance so it is pretty flat and ideal for youngsters. As there are no roads, it is also very safe.
Should you only want to cycle part of this route, there are additional access points at Bridestowe, Sourton and Meldon.
|Distance||16.28 Miles (26.2 Km)|
|Height Gained||876 feet (267 m)|
|Bike Required||Road or Mountain Bike|
|Suitable for children||Definitely. This route is fantastic for families.|
|Free Mapping File Downloads||granite-way-lydford-okehampton-localdevon.gpx
You start this route in the delightful village of Lydford, which is just off the A386 about half way between Tavistock and Okehampton. As you head towards Lydford, you will see this entrance on your right. There is plenty of parking around here, so you can drive to this route, as I did, or cycle from Tavistock, if you are feeling fit!
It is very easy to follow the route to Okehampton as there are plenty of signs along the way. ALthough there are a few gentle inclines, most of the route is flat and takes you through some fantastic moorland scenery, such as Fernworthy Down near Lydford and along the base of the Sourton Tors.
Just before you reach Lake Viaduct, you will come across this disused railway workers shelter, reminding you of the men who must have worked in all weathers on this rail route. I noticed that this shelter contained a woodburner at some point, no doubt to keep the railway men warm in the freezing winter weather.
Although most of this route is well kept tarmac, and is therefore suitable for either road bikes, or mountain bikes, there is a stretch, that is only about 230 metres long that goes through some woods. You might have to walk through this short segment, if you are on a road bike.
You will eventually come across the quaint church of St Thomas a Becket which nestles just off the Granite Way on the edge of the village of Sourton. Set against a backdrop of the Sourton Tors, this church is marvelously placed, and it is well worth spending a few minutes away from the bike to look around it.
I came across this sign for The Highwaymans Arms near the Church of St Thomas a Becket. There has been a pub here since the 13th Century so if you are feeling thirsty, it is worth making the short detour to it, and possibly try and see one of the ghosts that are said to haunt this building.
As you continue along the trail, you will cross the Meldon Viaduct, with its’ stunning views towards Meldon Resevoir and the imposing dam. The Meldon Quarry Railway station is on your right with its collection of unused railway carriages and rolling stock, which harks back to the days when this was a working quarry.
You are nearing Okehampton now and there is a gently sloping incline down towards the outskirts of this town as the route runs parallel to the A30 and even crosses under it at one point.
Arriving at the exit of the Granite Way, you can venture down the hill into Okehampton, however I chose to turn around and retrace the route back to Lydford, making it a highly enjoyable and traffic free cycle trip.
The photo below shows the entrance to the Granite Way near the station in Okehampton.