I may be biased, but if you ask me, you really can’t beat Devon; it’s no surprise everyone is enjoying a ‘stay-cation’ here! I mean, not only is it home to some of the best artisan food and drink producers in the world, its beautiful and unique landscape really is unrivalled. Rolling hills and plentiful hedgerows to support local wildlife and farming practices; beautiful, long fertile valleys producing a variety of crops that cannot be grown anywhere else in the UK; unique moorlands, perfectly suited to our native breeds and traditional hill livestock and of course two stunning coasts.
Here at Darts, we are lucky enough to be situated on the banks of the River Clyst, right at the heart of the Exe Estuary Cycle Trail. The 26-mile track runs around the whole of the Exe Estuary and is world famous for its stunning views, incredible selection of different habitats and diverse and plentiful range of flora, fauna and unique wildlife. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature, develop your mindfulness and unwind.
So, this summer, pack up a Darts Farm picnic (Vicky’s Sourdough, our own honey roast ham, a selection of West Country farmhouse cheeses and beautiful artisan charcuteries; a tub of antipasti from the Olive Branch and some refreshing Luscombe lemonades), and tackle the 26 miles from ‘city to sea’. Start at Darts and head up Topsham Road towards the swing bridge at Countess Wear and pedal along the canal up to the Exeter Quay. Here you may want to stop for a quick refreshment… and there are plenty of places to choose from!
Once refreshed, jump back on the bike and make the journey back down the canal all the way to Star Cross. Here you can hop on the ferry to Exmouth where I would recommend stopping at Mickey’s Beach for a quick drink, before heading back to Darts to enjoy an artisan gelato in the sun.
Don’t worry though, for all of you that aren’t quite as athletic as me – haha – you don’t have to complete the full 26-miles loop. Depending on whether you’re on your own, you’ve got a family in tow or you want to impress a loved one, there are a few different other options…
A family favourite has to be starting at Darts with a hearty farmers breakfast in our restaurant, or a quick takeaway bacon and egg bap and an Exe coffee from The Shack, before cycling into Topsham. Here you can catch Mike’s little Ferry, which is situated next to the historic Passage Inn; a pub which has played a part of Topsham’s history since 1721, when the town was one of the busiest ports in England.
Once you get off the ferry, turn left and make your way down to one of our favourites, The Turf Locks pub; this is a very unique place full of character and can only be reached by foot, bike or boat. Here you can refuel with a refreshing drink and if you have worked up an appetite, enjoy a bite to eat, before heading back to Darts. If you’re anything like me, on the way home, you’ll also stop off at The Bridge Inn for another quick refreshment too!
If you are more of naturist, and enjoy a spot of bird watching, there is a beautiful route starting at our Darts Farm wetlands and finishing at Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve; calling through Goosemore, The Bowling Green, Rivers Meet and Exminster. Known as one of the best nature routes in the whole of the country you’ll pass through three RSPB Nature Reserves. It’s the perfect place to spot migratory birds; from Black Tailed Godwits to Runged Plovers, Little Stints and Sandpipers.
For something a little simpler, I would recommend the direct route from Darts to Exmouth and back. On route, there are plenty of places to stop for a beautiful lunch; Lympstone Manor, Rockfish or The River Exe Café. If you have the kids on board, why not stop for a quick game of mini golf at Orcombe Point, or for something a little special, on your way home, stop in at Pebblebed Vineyard and enjoy a tour and wine tastings; it’s a perfect date!
If you haven’t got your own bike, no problem; you can hire them from us. Our bikes are handmade British classics; you’ll definitely look the part cycling off with your Darts Farm picnic in the front basket!
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