Bicycle on cycle path through woodland

Drake's Trail

Drake’s Trail is a 21 mile cycling and walking route linking Plymouth with Tavistock. It runs through superb countryside along the western edge of Dartmoor, an area with so much heritage interest.

The Trail takes its name from the famous Elizabethan seafarer Sir Francis Drake – his statue stands at either end of the Trail, in Tavistock and Plymouth. In additional to the main route, a network of cycling and walking spurs link to places that featured in Drake’s life – from his birthplace at Crowndale to his house at Buckland Abbey, the 18 mile Drake’s Leat, and on to the site of his famous game of bowls, Plymouth Hoe.

Drake’s Trail is also a key link in a number of national and international cycle routes. It is part of the National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 27, the Devon Coast to Coast (a 102 mile route linking Ilfracombe in the north to Plymouth in the south).  You can even jump on your bike here in Devon and follow the route through Brittany to Nantes in France, or even to North Cape, Norway!

Enjoying Drake's Trail when you stay at The Bedford

The Bedford Hotel in the heart of Tavistock is your perfect base for exploring Drake's Trail, whether by bike or on foot, and you'll fnd the trail well signposted throughout its route.

You'll pick up the start of the trail alongside the beautiful River Tavy just behind the hotel. The trail will take you through the leafy Tavistock Meadows and alongside Tavistock's historic canal (contructed in the 19th century, to link Tavistock with Morwellham Quay on the River Tamar, where cargo could be loaded onto ships).

After leaving the town behind, you'll follow the path of the old railway line which once ran between Tavistock and Plymouth. This peaceful, leafy section of Drake's Trail offers beautiful views of Devon's quintessential countryside, with a mostly gentle uphill gradient towards the village of Yelverton (with a short, steeper section at the end). Highlights of this section include the spectacular Gem Bridge, which replaced the original railway viaduct, and a walk or cycle through the historic Grenofen Tunnel.

The Tavistock to Yelverton section is 7 miles, and Yelverton is a good place to stop for some well-earned refreshment at the Rock Inn or one of several coffee shops (or better still, we can set you up with a packed lunch before you leave The Bedford!).

If you're on foot, and you're ready to return to Tavistock, there are several buses an hour from Yelverton.

Continuing on from Yelverton, you'll pass through some gloriously diverse Devon countryside, through open moorland around Clearbrook, and deeply wooded sections. You'll also cross two spectacular viaducts, and pass through another old railway tunnel, before eventually descending into the Plym Valley. The final section takes you through the beautiful grounds of Saltram House, along the banks of the River Plym, and finally arriving close to the historic Barbican in the heart of Plymouth. 

If you're on foot, there are frequent buses from Plymouth's Royal Parade back to Tavistock.

Whether you choose to enjoy Drake's Trail on two wheels or on foot, it's a great way to immerse yourself in Devon's glorious natural environment and industrial heritage when you come to stay at The Bedford Hotel.

Tavistock to Yelverton - 7 miles
Yelverton to Saltram - 9 miles
Saltram to the Barbican, Plymouth - 5 miles

(approximate distances)

Practical Information for Cyclists

If you're bringing your own bike to The Bedford (or even arriving by bike!), we have under-cover cycle storage available. Please lock your bike (and you'll understand that we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss or damage).

There are currently no cycle hire facilities on Drake's Trail. However, as an alternative, you can experience the Granite Way - an 11 mile cycle route from Okehampton along the edge of Dartmoor - with cycle hire available from the start of the trail at Okehampton -

More Information

For more information on enjoying Drake's Trail, including maps and trail highlights, download the Drake's Trail guide.