The Tarka Line
Exeter - Barnstaple (Exeter Central - Exeter St Davids - Newton St Cyres - Crediton - Yeoford - Copplestone - Morchard Road - Lapford - Eggesford - Kings Nympton - Portsmouth Arms - Umberleigh - Chapelton - Barnstaple)

The Tarka Line runs for 39 miles between Exeter and Barnstaple, following the gentle river valleys of the Yeo and Taw. From Eggesford to Barnstaple the line forms part of the Tarka Trail, a 180 mile long distance route tracing the journeys of 'Tarka the Otter' in Henry Williamson's classic novel.

The history of the Tarka Line is complex. The Exeter and Crediton Railway opened in 1851 and was extended by the North Devon Railway in 1854. The line was taken over by the London & South Western company and was later part of the Southern Railway, which ran the famous 'Atlantic Coast Express' services to the north coast of Devon and Cornwall.

The scenery along the line has changed little over the years and remains predominantly rural. The soil is rich and red, created from the red sandstone for which this part of Devon is famous. Livestock and dairy farming are typical in this rolling countryside, with fields divided by traditional hedges. Large settlements are scarce, but look out for small rural villages and farms, some with thatched roofs.

Sighting otters from the train is very unlikely as they are secretive and largely nocturnal creatures, but keen naturalists may spot herons stalking the river shallows, buzzards overhead or deer near woodlands.

The Tarka Line provides a valuable local train service and fast connections to the main line at Exeter.
To fully enjoy your trip, break your journey and explore the area.

Leave Your Car Behind

Leave your car behind and truly relax! Help conserve the countryside without the worries of driving and parking.

The Tarka Line is the ideal way to reach Eggesford, Barnstaple and the North Devon coast. If you are travelling south, most trains run to Exeter Central Station, just a short walk from the historic city's busy shopping centre and cathedral.

Parking is readily available at Barnstaple, Crediton and Exeter Stations, with a few spaces at most intermediate stations along the line.

Plenty To Do

The Tarka Line offers a wide range of things to do for all ages.

  • Walking - ranging from a gentle stroll around Exeter, Barnstaple or Crediton, to the longer distance TarkaTrail, Two Moors Way and Exe Valley Way.
  • The very successful Tarka Line Walks booklets have been succeeded in April 2013 by a new book, also called "Tarka Line Walks" which incorporates all 44 walks in the first two booklets and adds 16 brand new ones. It is available from local bookshops priced £9.99 or direct from the publishers here..
  • Cycling - hire facilities at Barnstaple, Crediton and Exeter. Routes ideal for families offering safe, traffic free cycling. Cycle hire at Barnstaple station Easter - October (tel 01271 324202) - Discount for people arriving by train. More information here.
  • Shopping, sightseeing and attractions - at Exeter, Barnstaple and Crediton.
  • Visit great rural and town centre pubs on the Tarka Line Rail Ale Trail. Visit the Rail Ale Trail site for details

OS MAPS - For detailed map information, refer to Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50 000, Sheet numbers 180, 191 and 192.

View our video line guide:

Useful links:


This is the website of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, School of Geography, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL4 8AA e-mail
We are a Community Rail Partnership, one of the longest established and largest in the country. Find out more about us here

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