Cycling Tour: The Granite Way

  • Start Okehampton YHA
  • End Okehampton YHA
  • Length 12 miles return; four hours
  • Difficulty Easy

Hire a bike from Granite Way Cycle Hire before heading downhill, under the railway bridge and turning left on to the Granite Way (part of NCN Route 27).

Shadow the railway line, forking left under a stone bridge; soon the ruins of Okehampton Castle emerge on your right. A bit further on, head left through the gate and under the busy A30. The Granite Way traces the route of a railway line, built to shuttle industrial cargoes off the moor – a heritage that's in evidence at Meldon Quarry, which is a Dr Who–esque landscape of rocks and waste piles. Next, a ridge of tors emerges, including Dartmoor’s highest point: High Wilhays (621m). Meldon Buffet, a cafe-visitor centre in former railway carriages, sits just before the Meldon Viaduct, an impressive 1874 steel structure spanning 165m, which has views of the deep tor-fringed valley ahead. Detour left (signed Meldon Reservoir) to the 45m-high Meldon Dam, a reservoir with waterside walking trails.

Get back on your bike and back on the main Granite Way, and cycle south, dog-legging beside a cattle grid, where the landscape suddenly widens, exposing open moorland sweeping up to Sourton Tors. Explore the 14th-century St Thomas a Becket church at Sourton, which pops up beside the track. Eventually the multiarched granite Lake Viaduct appears; it's a stunning structure offering gorse moorland views. Soon, a sign points left towards the Bearslake Inn; head along the steep path on to a rough track that leads under the viaduct, over wooden bridges and beside a stream, before emerging at the thatched Bearslake Inn itself. It's worth heading inside the inn for some classy bar food in snug surrounds. Finally, retrace your steps to the Granite Way for the glorious return peddle to Okehampton. You'll know you're nearly home when the precarious ruins of Okehampton Castle come into view.