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Walks to enjoy along the Tarka Line

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 28, 2013

  • WALKERS: Peter Craske and Scrumpy.

  • PICTURESQUE: Eggesford Church on the Tarka Line.

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THOSE that have used the Barnstaple to Exeter rail service, and even those that haven't, will no doubt be aware of the easy-on-the-eye surroundings to behold from the train windows.

The route is, after all, named after Henry Williamson's literary classic about a certain otter, and passes through some of the finest scenery our country, nay planet, has to offer to an avid traveller.

Yet Tarka Line Walks, a 136-page, glossy colour book by Peter Craske, is all about gently pushing the commuter into the world beyond the carriage. Such natural beauty is not merely eye candy to accompany you on your journey. It can be the journey itself.

So if time allows why not follow the instinct to leave the train and see what is on the other side of the hills and valleys that you see? If you want to breathe in their reality, Craske's guide will give you a helping hand to do so.

The book, published by Crimson Publishing (Pathfinder Guides), details 60 walks that are accessible from the 13 stations along the Tarka Line. Each are between two and nine miles and accompanied by an ordnance survey map. It also gives information on pubs, tearooms and shops along the routes, along with titbits about countless areas of interest of course.

Directions for a walk from Umberleigh station and back, for example, detail not only the logistics of which paths to take but explain the history behind particular sites on the way.

Locals may know that St Hieritha's Church in Chittlehampton was built upon the burial ground of a martyred sixth or eighth century girl and, as legend has it, the nearby well sprang up on the very spot where she was butchered. Yet to visitors this is prized information.

Train enthusiast and former BBC director Peter, who spent months researching the walks with his faithful canine Scrumpy, will be signing copies of the book at the Stationmaster's Cafe in Barnstaple Rail Station on Saturday, April 13, 10.15am to 12.45pm.

Tarka Line Walks will be available from Monday, April 1 from bookshops, £8.99 from Amazon, and £7.99 from Guardian Books.

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