Rock Cottage is in a great position for walking; from garden paths to coastal trails, there'll be a walk, stroll, ramble or hike that will appeal to all ages and abilities.
Being a few miles from both Exmoor and the beautiful North Devon coastline, our guests at Rock Cottage have enjoyed some lovely walks (moor, coast, river, woodland and field) throughout the seasons and we are always discovering new ones. We are also three miles from the Barnstaple section of the famous 31-mile traffic-free former railway line between Braunton and Meeth known as the Tarka Trail.
Walking from Rock Cottage can be enjoyed at any time of year. We have always been keen, whatever the season and whatever the weather, and we would love you to experience some of our favourite walks. For this reason we have created a folder of laminated walks for you to use during your stay. We will continue to add more walks as we discover them. We also provide walking sticks, a thermos flask (for tea of course!), many different shaped Tupperware containers for your sandwiches and snacks and, of course, up-to-date information on many of the gardens and other places of interest in the area.
We have our very own Goodleigh walk which can be enjoyed from Rock Cottage. It's about 3.5 kilometres, takes an hour and a half at a leisurely pace and you get a really good view of the whole village as well as the Taw Estuary. The last bit is a bit steep but once you get back up the hill into the centre of Goodleigh, you can stop for a drink or snack at the New Inn before returning home. There are lots of variations on this walk depending on how much further afield you desire to explore along footpaths and ancient green lanes.
Do take a look at our blog 'Rock Cottage Walks & Other Ways to Unwind' where we have started and will continue to share thoughts and pictures of our favourite walks. Please also see details of our Rock Cottage Photo Competition 2013. We would love guests and friends to send us photos from your favourite walks and visits. We will feature them on our blog and on twitter @rockcottagestay and we will give a prize for the best photo and accompanying description at the end of the year.
Combine walks with visits to some beautiful gardens within easy reach of Rock Cottage including RHS Garden Rosemoor near Torrington, one of the Royal Horticultural Society's four principal gardens. Other delightful gardens include Docton Mill, Hartland Abbey and Clovelly Court further along the coast, as well as Marwood Hill and Castle Hill close to Barnstaple. Guests have also enjoyed visits to Tapeley Park at Instow (accessible from The Tarka Trail) with its Italian terraces and lovely views of the Estuary. So for some leisurely walking you can visit one or more of these in a day. Most also have excellent tearooms which, from our perspective, ranks almost as importantly as the plants!
We are a short drive from Arlington Court, a National Trust property which includes the National Trust Carriage Museum and a bat-cam. There are short walks in the grounds, good for families, and four longer walks in the Estate and Arlington countryside ranging from 1.75 to 4.75 miles.
We are even closer to Broomhill Art Hotel and Sculpture Garden which has an on-going exhibition and sculpture competition based mainly in the grounds amongst the trees and stream. It has an excellent restaurant, Terra Madre, serving local 'slow' food which comes highly recommended, and is also close to another favourite eating-place, the Muddiford Inn.
The 31 mile traffic-free Tarka Trail provides ample opportunity for those of our guests who enjoy walking, running or cycling. See our blog for the post 'Running Flat'.
The Trail gives plenty of opportunity for nice flat river-walking or cycling along the Taw Estuary towards Braunton and its beautiful Burrows or, in the other direction, towards the Torridge Estuary at Instow, the town of Bideford and beyond through wooded riverside valleys to Torrington Old Station (The Puffing Billy) and Meeth.
Part of the Tarka Trail is used for a Parkrun location. For those that have never come across Parkrun, do take a look at their website. Parkrun has grown and spread from the original run, established in Bushey Park, right across the UK and to several other countries. Barnstaple now has its own Parkrun as of January this year. It's a free timed 5 Kilometre run starting at 09:00 every Saturday morning at Rock Park near the River Taw. Why not give it a go? All you need to do is register on the website and print your barcode. It doesn't matter what speed you go or even if you walk. There is ample parking, which is not too expensive, at the Barnstaple Leisure Centre just over the river Taw near the Barnstaple Long Bridge.
If you want to walk, run or cycle the whole trail, or to mix and match with the Tarka bus, the approximate distance in miles from Barnstaple to some of the key places along the Tarka Trail are:
Braunton 6 miles
Instow 6 miles
Bideford 9 miles
Torrington Old Station 14 miles
Meeth 25 miles
Bikes can be hired all along the Tarka Trail. A local hire company Tarka Bikes can be found at Barnstaple Railway Station.
From Rock to Exmoor is a pleasant 15-20 minute drive. From there guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to walks. Choose from some of the way-marked trails, circular walks from cosy village pubs or tea rooms, riverside strolls to quiet picnic spots or coastal hikes along the very edge of the moor along the South West Coastal Footpath. Clean air and stunning views are guaranteed.
Exmoor maps suitable for walkers are available at Rock Cottage with recommended locations from where to begin your moorland saunter.
Spend a weekend or a week walking the South West Coastal Footpath in sections, returning home to Rock and a scrumptious meal before toasting your toes in front of the woodburner. The Footpath starts in Minehead and runs from Somerset into North Devon through the villages and resorts of Porlock, Lynmouth, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe, Lee Bay, Woolacombe, Croyde, Saunton and then to Braunton where it joins the Tarka Trail. From Braunton the combined Trail runs through Barnstaple, and Instow to Bideford where the two paths part company. The Footpath heads west to the quaint fishing village of Appledore and then along the coast through Westward Ho! to Clovelly and the Hartland Peninsula. Any one of these sections offers a dramatic day or half day's walking on cliff tops or valley bottoms. The flora and fauna are magnificent at any time of the year and there's always a tearoom or welcoming village pub to be had just when needed.