Tarka Line Walks --

“the definitive walking guide to mid-Devon.”

Since Victorian times visitors in their thousands have flocked to Devon to explore her scenic moors. Now, for the very first time, comes an intriguing alternative: an award-winning walking guide to the undiscovered and immensely picturesque countryside of mid-Devon. These Low Carbon walks (each starts from a railway station between Exeter and Barnstaple) vary in length from two to 8.5 miles. Route-finding is easy; every walk (more than 325 miles in all) is accompanied by its own Ordnance Survey map. Author Peter Craske has known the area since the 1940s, and offers expert insight to the villages, local lore and transportation changes that have taken place over the past two centuries in Glorious Devon’s scenic heartland.

Tarka Line Walks is a 136-page full-colour book featuring 60 self-guided walks from each of the thirteen stations along the 39 mile route. “The line passes through some of the finest scenery in Southern England,” notes Julian Crow, FGW Regional Manager for the West of England. “With this book we hope to introduce both locals and visitors to the countryside made famous in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, and with the hourly timetable that’s now operating on weekdays -- the best service the line has ever had -- planning of walks has never been easier.”

Many walks are ideal for children, and list pubs, shops and tearooms along the route. “You’ve no idea just what’s out there until you head away from the track,” confides Peter Craske, who spent several years researching the walks and going over every inch of the ground with Scrumpy, his 12 year-old rescued labrador. He promises his readers “just about everything from picturesque villages to ancient watermills, from a highway lined with gallows to a rector tried for murder.”

Craske is quick to stress the health and environmental implications of the project. “In these days of dire predictions about rising obesity rates and associated health problems, walking can do wonders for middle age spread (and doubtless other spreads!),” he observes. “And taking the train, instead of the car, is gentle on the environment. This way you’ll barely leave a carbon footprint.”

Advance copies have been enthusiastically greeted by press & public alike:

“At last, the definitive walking guide to mid-Devon! A real treasure-trove, full of interesting historical facts and ideal for locals & visitors alike. Peter Craske’s knowledge and advice make it an essential must-have.”

Crediton Courier

“I've been a keen walker for 40 years, but can honestly say that I have never before seen such a professionally produced walking guide that also makes the reader positively want to travel by train as an inherent part of the day out. I've seen a few guide books in my time. Yours is probably the very best I have ever read.”

NG., Kingsbridge, Devon.

“I absolutely adore the style of the book. I have seen many, many such publications over the years, but the layout and design style rarely comes up to this kind of standard. I feel sure that many will find it incredibly useful for years to come.”

J.B., Ilfracombe, Devon.

“A model of what walks guides should be . . . Just reading it makes you want to get on the next train and go there.”

P.S., Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Tarka Line Walks by Peter Craske is produced by the Tarka Rail Association (TRA) in partnership with First Great Western, and is published by the UK’s leading publisher of walking guides, Crimson Publishing, well-known for their popular Pathfinder Guide series.

Available April 1, 2013 from all good bookshops,the Stationmaster's Cafe at Barnstaple Platform 1. Amazon.co.uk. & Guardianbookshop.co.uk

RRP £9.99.  ISBN: 978-1-78059-1827

The Background

To encourage Devon passengers to sample the countryside along the line, local rail users’ group, the Tarka Rail Association, in partnership with First Great Western, came up with a novel idea: a walks booklet to encourage travellers on the Exeter - Barnstaple “Tarka Line” to explore the landscape on the other side of the window.

The original Tarka Line Walks was a 52-page full-colour booklet featuring 22 self-guided walks from each of the eleven wayside stations along the 39 mile route produced by the Tarka Rail Association (TRA), in conjunction with FGW, Devon County Council , the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership (D&CRP), Passenger Focus and other major stakeholders. In fact so many sponsors lined up behind the project that there was a major dividend for readers: the walks booklet was free.

The success of the walks booklet (it won Best Marketing Publication at the Association of Community Rail Partnership Awards in 2009) inspired the author Peter Craske, accompanied by his rescued labrador ‘Scrumpy’, to produce another set of walks, named appropriately “More Tarka Line Walks”, in 2010.

Strictly speaking, we’re not quite the first to come up with this idea; back in the years between the World Wars, when the line was managed by Southern Railway, the company published several booklets with much the same objective.


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