Mar 2021 – Devon.

Information from DevonLive sets out summary details of all the proposed new (and to be extended or linked up) cycle trails in Devon. A search revealed the definite or likely-looking railway components as these:
1. The Pegasus Way. This will complete conversion of a long section of the Bude Branch – which has been a work in progress for many years – between Meldon Junction and Cookworthy Forest, which is around 3½ miles beyond Halwill Junction on the Bude side.
2. The Ruby Way. This will link Hatherleigh with Holsworthy, and it is possible that old railway trackbeds will be used. Devon has already converted parts of the Torrington – Halwill Junction line west of Hatherleigh between Runnon Moor and Pulworthy Moor, and between Highampton and Black Torrington, plus parts of the Halwill Junction – Bude branch between Halwill Junction and Cookworthy Forest, and West Combe and the eastern side of Holsworthy, just before Coles Mill Viaduct, which carried the line into the town’s station. Contacts within the ‘railway re-use community’ indicate that, after many years, Devon is close to securing access over Coles Mill Viaduct, which – amongst other things – will require new parapets.
3. The Tarka Trail. ‘Land assembly’ is proposed to fill the gaps between Knowle and Willingcott (which will complete re-use of the whole of the Barnstaple – Ilfracombe branch) and between Meeth and Hatherleigh, although here only a short section of the old railway will be used west of Hele Bridge on the A386.
4. Feniton to Sidmouth. Parts of this branch are open officially already, and the highly regarded Kings School at Ottery St. Mary has been campaigning14 for its conversion into The Otter Trail for several years.
5. Tavistock to Bere Alston. At first glance, this looked like another prospective rail trail, but it is not to be because Devon still aspires to re-open the line and thus put Tavistock back on the national rail network. Sorry!
6. Tiverton to Exeter. The inclusion of this route in Devon’s list is tantalising. The Exe Valley Way already links Tiverton with Exeter, but the old railway could not be used because, about 30 years ago, the county riled all the landowners by publishing plans for a rail trail before consulting them. As a result, the current Exe Valley Way eschews the railway: it is a demanding walk and, in places, not open to – and wholly unsuitable for – cyclists. Possibly a new route is in prospect, but at this stage the published sources do not give much away.
7. The Primrose Trail: South Brent to Kingsbridge. The county’s website is silent on this trail. The obvious route would be along the old railway, but that would require the agreement of a lot of landowners. However, Greenways and Cycleroutes are very keen to develop a trail here, and there is a keen local campaign group with an informative website: https://primrosetrail.org (Jeff Vinter; Steven Hills)