With the nicer weather finally here, we have been keen to get the family out on our bikes and explore the many traffic free cycle routes near to us. We have decided we want to complete the Exe Estuary Trail, but as our children are young this will be in small parts over time!
There are many maps and websites with information about the trail, including ways to complete the circuit using one of the ferries that operate on the River Exe. I found this leaflet really useful as it has details of the distances involved in each section, and details of all public transport along the route too. It goes without saying that any of these ride routes are also suitable for walk with buggies too, and the beauty of this path is that you can always hope on a train back to our destination if little legs need a rest!
We started in Exmouth, in the pay and display car park (50p for every 30 minutes) close to the start of the trail at the station – there are plenty of spaces near to the leisure centre and facing the estuary beyond. There are public toilets here and a range of places to stock up on food and drink, including the new M&S food hall next to the station.
Starting from Exmouth Station, the very first section of the cycle path is along side the road (on the pavement) and while this can be off putting for younger ones, the path is wide and traffic is slowed by the pedestrian crossings along this section. Very quickly you reach a gateway to enter the off road section of the path which takes you past a small play area and then turn left by a National Trust sign to start cycling alongside the water. To the right is a new surfaced path that leads up to Exeter Road and the turn for A La Ronde (a great place to visit, check out our adventures there!) You then pass Lower Halsdon Farm which operates a tea room at weekends from now until September.
The views along this section of the path are simply stunning and there are many benches provided to sit and enjoy it for a while, and for train loving children there are frequent services using the line on both sides of the estuary to wave at! The cycling is mainly flat and very well surfaced, with boardwalk sections over inlets and marshlands. As you approach Lympstone there are couple of hillier sections and you enter Lympstone on the road although traffic moves slowly and is easily heard.
It is worth pausing at the foot of the hill to appreciate the mini beach that appears when the tide is out, and to recruit yourself for the ascent on the way into the village. As you enter Lympstone you will pass The Globe pub on your right, and a small jetty and picnic area on your left, before arriving in the village centre where ice creams can be bought from Oh Sew Devon, or the village shop and Post Office, and there is another pub (with outside space) The Swan Inn.
At the station, you can either take a train back to where you began, or follow the cycle path up to the railway bridge and continue on to Lympstone Commando. By the bridge you can also turn left into the playing fields where there are beautiful views and lots of space for ball games and picnics.
If you and your party still have the energy then you can return via the same route in reverse, enjoying all the views in a different order and from a different perspective. Cycling this route in different lights and times of day can make it appear like a completely different landscape.