Sunday, 28 July 2013

Zoom Around the West Country and Sample the Tour of Britain

Chris Froome’s Tour de France win is just one reason West Country holidays are so cycling-focussed this year.

Devon is hosting the sixth stage of the Tour of Britain this September, so keen cyclists and even fair weather friends of the bike can try out the route before the competitors.

The 85-mile stretch between Sidmouth and Haytor is ranked as difficult and given recent sunny weather, anyone attempting it will no doubt fancy stopping for several refreshment breaks at any number of villages, towns and beauty spots. It is expected that only the most fit and experienced cyclists would attempt to complete the entire stage. The route map is available on the official tour website.

Setting off from Sidmouth, cyclists then head north to Honiton, taking in Willand, Tiverton, Bickleigh, Stoke Cannon, Exeter and the Exe Estuary. Then it’s on to Dartmoor National Park, Chudleigh, Moretonhampstead and Bovey Tracey, with the stage coming to an end at Haytor.

Cycling has long been a popular way to see the West Country, with dozens of well-established routes other than this available. The success of Chris Froome last week and previous achievements of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Mark Cavendish and Laura Trott have no doubt added to the number of visitors arriving with bikes and helmets or hiring them during their stay.

The West Country Way takes you from Cornwall to the River Avon. It incorporates the Camel Trail, Tarka Trail, Avon Cycleway and the Bristol and Bath Railway Path. This route is 240 miles long, 70 miles of which are traffic free.

The Cornish Way, from Land’s End to Bude, gives you a choice of which parts of the county you want to see – via Rick Stein’s Padstow or the Eden Project’s St Austell? It splits at Truro and joins into one again at Bodmin. It is 122 miles long, of which 29 are traffic free.

The Devon Coast to Coast from Ilfracombe to Plymouth is 102 miles long, 71 without traffic, and is rated moderate in difficulty. The Tarka Trail is a comparatively modest-sounding 46 miles with an easy rating. A child-friendly ride is The Granite Way between Okehampton and Lydford. It is 11 miles long and is rated easy.

GPS cycling routes in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset will keep you on track.

To plan your next visit to the West Country and to find a holiday home, go to