With stunning stretches of scenery and plenty of pub stops along the way, Dartmoor is a fantastic place to enjoy a picturesque and rewarding bike ride.
The extensive network of cycle routes ensures everyone can enjoy the sights of Dartmoor National Park via bicycle, no matter their age or level of fitness. Here are some of our favourite bike trails that’ll encourage you to explore the beautiful Devonshire landscape.
There are a plethora of byways and cycle trails, but you are not allowed to cycle on the open moorland, unless it is part of a designated route. So, please respect the surrounding environment and keep to the dedicated trails – there are plenty of them!
Linking Moretonhampstead to Bovey Tracey, this 7-mile (11km) trail follows an old railway line and takes you past the National Trust’s peaceful Parke estate. As you make the journey, you’ll enjoy serene woodland views in a slice of secluded countryside – you likely won’t come across many other cyclists or walkers as you travel across the valley.
There are plenty of off-shoots and picnic spots along the way if you want to break for a bit of exploration or take some time to relax. Parts of the trail are considered moderately challenging as there are some hills and rough terrain to tackle! The entire trail typically takes about three hours to complete.
Named for the Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake, Drake’s Trail is made up of a network of trails and routes, spanning 21 miles (34km) in total. The route links Tavistock and Plymouth, running along the Western side of Dartmoor and taking you past rivers, valleys, forests and rugged moorland.
The trail is quite diverse and has something for all ages and skill levels, with plenty of routes along the network suitable for families. Sights you’ll see include the Gem Bridge and Grenofen Tunnel. Drake’s Trail is also part of National Cycle Network 27, so it is wonderfully accessible and linked to a number of other exciting cycling spots.
This is another popular route that’ll offer a peaceful ride, unbothered by traffic. Running between Okehampton and Lydford, the 11-mile (18km) trail takes you along the northwest edge of Dartmoor, serving up an impressive view of the rocky granite landscape.
The route is also part of the National Cycle Network 27 and runs along an old, disused railway line. Due to this, the route is mostly flat, so it is ideal for all levels of fitness and confidence. There are several sites of geological interest to explore, along with some spectacular views to marvel at as you cycle along the Meldon Viaduct.
The popular route will take you along the disused Princetown railway and some minor roads. An absolutely stunning trail, you’ll have endless opportunities to soak up the majesty of the Tors, vast moorland and granite quarries.
The entire route splits off into a short and longer loop – there are plenty of family-friendly biking experiences to be had along either route.
This 6-mile (10km) circuit loops around King’s Tor and Swelltor Quarries. Here, you’ll get sweeping views of the moor and a satisfying trip to a Tor before looping back to Princetown for a rest at one of their cafes.
For cyclists up for a longer ride, you’ll forgo the loop around King’s Tor and head down to Burrator Reservoir before going back along the disused railway to Princetown. This route is 19 miles (30km). Serene sights of the reservoir and unmatched scenery make the longer journey well worth it.
For the most dedicated cyclists among us, there is the Dartmoor Way to keep you busy. This is a 90-mile (145km) circular route that takes you around the entire national park. Even if you decide not to commit to the entire trail and only want to explore a section of it, there are countless landscapes and views to enjoy.
The route links a number of hamlets, villages and towns, so you’ll find various places to rest, eat and stay for the night. You can start or finish the trail at any point to experience some fantastic views – from winding lanes to sweeping moorland roads, there’s no shortage of avenues to take.
As with any adventure in the great outdoors, it pays to remain diligent and aware of your surroundings. When venturing out onto a Dartmoor track, remember to take a map and compass with you. Plan out a route beforehand and stick to it – if you stay to the designated trails, you shouldn’t have any issues getting lost.
Don’t overestimate your abilities, and always wear the appropriate safety gear and helmet. Always remain considerate of other cyclists, walkers and the environment itself.
A bike ride is a great way to experience the unique natural beauty of Dartmoor. And there is so much more the national park has to offer – with a rich heritage and a wealth of diverse attractions to visit, spending just a few days in Dartmoor guarantees a fantastic break away. If you’re seeking places to stay in Chagford or Dartmoor, look no further than Mill End Hotel, our idyllic country house hideaway!