Car free Devon holidays

Looking towards Chulmleigh

Without a car you can…

Kayak on the Torridge… walk parts of the Tarka Trailget into Exeter for a museum… shop in Bideford or Barnstaple pannier markets… walk a section of the coast pathvisit RHS Rosemoor… even re-live the last major battle of the civil war in the Cavalier town of Torrington!

‘Is a car free Devon holiday for me?’

We want you to enjoy your Devon holiday. Car-free isn’t necessarily for everyone, and most people still come by car. But you don’t have to! So here’s a few things to consider when deciding whether to bring your vehicle or to try a car free Devon holiday at Wheatland Farm.

Car Free Holiday Pros…

    When you arrive and leave without a car we’ll collect you from the nearest station (4 miles) or bus stop (1.5 miles), as long as you arrange it with us beforehand.
    You can borrow our farm bikes for free (but please bring a decent padlock and your own safety equipment if you plan to use them a lot), or hire our two electric bikes (which come with full safety gear and locks).
    You can bike or cadge a ride to the bus stop / station and enjoy good value car-free days out to some great places within North Devon. We’ll help you with ideas, timetables and maps. A week long ticket on the Stagecoach No 5. route, which will get you south to Exeter or north to Barnstaple, costs £19 (2015) and there are one day saver tickets too.
    You don’t need the car for shopping – you can order ahead from the farm shop, from our local wine merchant, or even most big supermarkets. We’ll accept delivery if your shopping arrives before you do (but let us know!).
    If you’re holidaying without your car we can usually take you to an excellent village pub once during your stay and collect you afterwards (outside peak season).
    You’re being green, and if you just want to relax you don’t really need to go anywhere! Stay on the farm and try the paddle board on the pond, drink wine on your veranda, take a free guided walk, play badminton or just chill out.

Car Free Holiday Cons…

    We’re 1.5 miles from the bus stop and 4 (sometimes hilly, unless you’re on the electric bike) miles from the station. If you don’t have a car and are bringing kids who are not confident cyclists on narrow roads you’ll probably need lifts. We can help a bit, but unfortunately can’t be a full time free taxi service. There is a local minicab though.
    Although the bus service is pretty good, it’s not like being in a city and if you want to go somewhere that requires you to change services, there may be waits involved. (But we have lots of ideas for doable days out without the car, and you can always take a book!)
    Public transport works best here earlier in the day – you may have to catch the early bus and get back by late afternoon. If you want to go out a lot in the evening, car-free may not be for you.
    The Devon lanes near the farm, with their steep banks and no pavements, are not great places for wheelchair users.
    If it rains, you’ll have less freedom of choice for how to spend the day.

Here are some ideas for an active car free week in Devon

But these aren’t the only car free holiday options – have a look at our car free things to do page too.

Saturday: arrive and get set up
Arrive at charming Eggesford Station, on Devon’s picturesque Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple. We’ll collect you and take you to the farm. Or if you’ve come with your bikes it’s about a 4 mile ride – we’ll send you detailed directions when you book. Once at Wheatland Farm, relax with scones and a cup of tea, if you’ve ordered ahead from the farm shop (or a local grocer, or even a supermarket) your supplies should already be in your accommodation. Did you know our local wine merchant delivers? If you didn’t bring your own bikes we’ll set you up with ours.

Sunday: explore and have a pub lunch
Relax! It’s not a great day for public transport, so get up late, take a free guided walk around our Popehouse Moor Nature reserve (we can almost always fit this in to suit). Maybe have Sunday lunch at the Lymington Arms near Wembworthy, a two mile ride away. Read a book, listen to music, BBQ or go exploring the local lanes: there are lovely walks in nearby Hollocombe.

Monday: the Tarka Trail from Puffing Billy to East Yarde
Set off exploring North Devon! Catch the 9ish bus from Winkleigh (1.5 miles from your lodge – take the bikes and lock them up near the bus stop. Times change by a few minutes every so often, but we’ll help you check up to date information). Choose the right ticket (see below for weekly options) and set off for Puffing Billy, a stop the far side of Torrington. Puffing Billy was old Torrington station, but is now a pub by the side of the off-road cycling and walking route- the Tarka Trail. You can walk, or hire bikes at Torrington Cycle Hire, the other side of the trail from the pub (full day adult price £11.50 in 2014). Head right, along the trail, and enjoy a 5 mile walk/ride to East Yarde, where there is a really lovely cafe (if you want to check it’s open ring 01805 601778). In spring there will be wild garlic and primroses by the wayside, in autumn the wooded walk is lit up with colour. Enjoy a local lunch, then head back. Be back in time to get the last bus back to Winkleigh (usually around 17:00 but please check!). Don’t forget the King’s Arms and the Seven Stars, in Winkleigh, if you want refreshment before coming back to the farm!

Tuesday: a stretch of the coast path
Catch the 9ish bus from Winkleigh and go to Bideford Quay (5B again), then take the 319 service from Bideford Quay to Horn’s Cross. There’s usually a wait for the bus – enough time to take in life on the Quay or get a coffee at the nearby Burton Art Gallery. At Horn’s Cross set off past the pub and take the wooded footpath that winds down through the beautiful coombe. Branch right when you find the South West Coast path and enjoy a glorious (and sometimes strenuous) coastal walk to Westward Ho!. Allow 2 – 4 hours depending on your speed! From Westward Ho! you’ll need to catch one of the frequent buses back to Bideford (if it’s a different operator you’ll need to buy a separate ticket, but it’s not much – probably less than you’d pay to park your car). Last bus back to Winkleigh leaves Bideford around 17:00.

Wednesday: Bideford and beyond
On the early bus again, and up to Bideford. This time cross Bideford old bridge and join the Tarka Trail the other side of the river (well signed). There’s a bike hire shop just by the river (01237 424123). Hire a bike and explore the estuary on this coastal stretch of the Tarka Trail. It’s only 3 miles to sandy beaches at Instow, or 7 to the lovely cafe at Fremington Quay, once the busiest port in the South West outside of Bristol. Along the way you’ll find picnic spots and artwork – always a good excuse for a quick stop! Or if the tide’s not running fast, maybe hire Kayaks from the cycle shop (yes, they do those too) and paddle up river under the Iron Bridge. Last bus back from Bideford to Winkleigh is usually around 17:00.

Thursday: picnic by the Torridge
Pack a picnic and head off to the Devon Wildlife Trust’s Halsdon nature reserve. Take the 5B stagecoach bus to Dolton, pick up supplies if you need to, or visit the pub, then walk along the lanes to the reserve – about 2 miles. In the reserve there’s a path along the river and a hide, from where otters are sometimes seen. The grassland has wonderful butterflies and in spring the woodland flowers are fantastic. Last bus back from Dolton usually around 17:40. Or if you don’t mind a few miles on proper roads, borrow our bikes and to the whole thing with pedals. Halsdon is only about 7 miles from the farm.

Friday: The core of North Devon’s Unesco Biosphere Reserve
Here’s two energetic options:
1. Bike to Eggesford station and take your bike on the train to Barnstaple, where the Tarka Trail is just outside the station. Set off for Braunton Burrows. It’s 7 miles out to Crow Point, the last bit down a quiet toll road, and then you get to explore the other-worldly scenery of the Burrows, a huge dune system where over 400 different species of flowering plant have been found. If you have a GPS you’ll find it handy amongst the towering sand dunes of this strange landscape. Challenge yourself to find Venner’s pool – it’s quite a surprise if you do, complete with goldfish and water lilies. Bike and train back.
2. Bike to Eggesford station and take your bike on the train to Barnstaple, then head off in the other direction on the Tarka Trail and challenge yourself to get home – via Fremington, Instow, Bideford, Torrington, East Yarde, Petrockstowe and then from Meeth you’ll be back on roads – quiet Devon ones though and you can stop for a pint at the Duke of York in Iddesleigh (Michael Morpurgo’s local). This is about a 40 mile round trip and quite an achievement. We’ll put you in our hall of fame!

Saturday morning:
We’ll take you back to the station and put you on the train to Exeter – there’s plenty do do there too if you’re not short of time. Kayak on the river (hire available from the historic Quay), or walk to the Turf Pub along the river Exe, one of the few pubs in Devon that you can’t reach directly by car!

Wet weather alternatives:
You know what they say about weather – no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Well, that’s OK to some extent, but it’s true these ideas work best when it’s fine. So here are a few wet weather alternatives:

Take the bus to Exeter: you’ll get great views on the way. Explore the fabulous architecture of the Cathedral (take a guided tour), dip into all sorts of curiosities at the award-winning RAMM museum, maybe explore the underground caves, shop on colourful Gandy Street, or have lunch at the Phoenix Art Gallery. Kids love clip ‘n climb, and there’s a climbing wall for adults next door too.
Or brave the showers and try the Tarka Line ale trail – pubs with good beer near stations on the Tarka Line. Ask for a leaflet or see online.
Or maybe just enjoy Torrington (get there on the 5B bus – as usual). Excellent bakeries, the Plough Arts Centre where there may be a midday film, Torrington 1646 – the civil war experience – will be open in the summer even if it’s wet. And on a working day you can see fine glass being produced at Dartington Crystal on a tour of the factory.