View Full Version : Archived: Instow to Bideford The Tarka Trail

09-08-2009, 03:34 PM
Might sound odd for a report but it's not, it used to be a railway back in 1987 but was sold for 515,000 to the local council, a brief history of the whole thing:

The Tarka Trail was originally established in 1987 as the Taw/Torridge Country Park using the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford. The railway line was purchased for 515,000 in 1986-87 from British Rail.
In 1989, the remainder of the line between Bideford and Meeth was acquired in its entirety by Devon County Council for 1. Conversion of this section to a footpath was enabled by a 60,000 Derelict Land Grant from central government in 1989-90, plus a further 100,000 from Devon County Council and the Countryside Commission in 1990-91. A large amount of the money was needed to adapt and repair bridges across the River Torridge.

Parish councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities and the National Trust played a part in the development of the rest of the Trail. Their consultation and co-operation ensured low environmental costs while retaining a large degree of accessibility to the Trail. Even the otter conservation officer was involved to ensure there would be no disturbance to otters where the Trail followed water courses.

The section between Barnstaple and Bideford was opened on May 21 1991 and was made into a combined footpath and cyclepath. The section from Barnstaple to Meeth was named the Tarka Country Park. Once the southern circuit was also incorporated, the Trail spanned 180 miles. It was opened by Prince Charles in May 1992. The Tarka Country Park identity was finally subsumed by the Tarka Trail in 1994. The route to Meeth was converted into a cycle/walkway in 1997. It was delayed by a quarry covering the line of the old railway.

More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarka_Trail

Some parts however still show their rail history and here are some pictures:


A map of the original line and new trail


Signal box at Instow


Original crossing gates and level crossing


Plaque put up to show when the box was put to use as a mini museum, also this was the first signal box to be listed in the UK


Overgrown Home starter signal


Sign on the old station


Station building at Bideford


Old BR MK1 passenger coach now used as a cafe on the platform


The signal box at Bideford


Diesel Shunter, Break van and a Southern Railway Utility van occasionally runs up and down a small section of track