14 miles, mostly flat (with a few small hills) and mostly traffic-free. Suitable for children under close supervision
When you leave the train station at Dawlish, turn left, but don’t mount your bike yet. A very short while later you will turn right onto Richmond Place – this before getting to the main road through Dawlish town. Keep walking your bike, and just before a sign for the Railway Inn, you need to turn right and pass through an archway.
You will be faced with some steps, with a channel for your bike’s wheels. Go up the steps, then at the top, turn left, to follow the shared path towards the main road. Once on the main road, mount your bike, and cycle along the shared pavement.
This is Exeter Road, and you should simply keep following it until the buildings on your right stop, where you must turn right at the junction with Warren Road. The turning is signposted for the Exe Estuary Trail, which is the route you’ll be following.
Within metres, follow the shared path leading off from the start of Pinewood Close,
signposted with a red square showing the number 2 (National Cycle Network route 2).
The route will be traffic-free until a short section in Dawlish Warren. In Dawlish Warren, the traffic-free shared path will lead you to a roundabout on Beach Road. Simply cross Beach Road onto the shared pavement opposite, turn left, then follow the pavement as it curves round to the right. Follow the shared pavement past the supermarket on the opposite side of the road, and past the entrances to the holiday parks. Shortly after the entrance to the Hazelwood holiday park you need to cross the road, to continue in the same direction along the shared pavement on that side.
Soon, the shared pavement will stop altogether, and you will continue along the shared path, signed Exe Estuary Trail. The trail will cross Dawlish Warren Road again, after a while, before continuing on the opposite side of the road. Further along, it becomes a shared pavement again. Before long, the shared pavement ends, leaving you to cycle on the road through Cockwood.
Drivers tend to be very used to, and patient with cyclists along the short stretch around the harbour, but do be careful. At the T-junction with Exeter Road, turn right onto the shared pavement. A short while later, the shared pavement ends, and you will need to cross Exeter Road by the light-controlled crossing, to get back onto the traffic-free Exe Estuary Trail.
The trail soon enough becomes a shared pavement, as you enter Starcross. Simply follow the shared pavement until you get to Royal Way, where you must veer left, to ride on the traffic-calmed road. Royal Way makes a sharp turn to the right, where it becomes Church Street. Follow Church Street for a very short stretch, then turn left into Courtney Terrace.
There is a small “2” sign pointing left on the lamppost, showing you’re still following National Cycle Route 2 (NCN 2). Follow Courtney Terrace to the end, then cross almost straight (but in reality, slightly to the left) onto Well Street. Follow Well Street to the end, and turn right (signposted NCN 2) onto Bonhay Road.
At the end of Bonhay Road, turn left, onto the shared pavement along the main road. The diversion you’d just followed was simply a more pleasant route than trying to share with cars along the main road. When you get to the traffic lights, cross to the other side of the road, then continue in the same direction along the shared path.
The shared path will end at a small lane, very close to another junction with the main road. Turn right into this small lane. Please bear in mind that, although traffic-calmed and carrying very light traffic, the lane is open to cars. When the lane curves slowly 90 degrees to the left, you need to turn right, back onto a traffic-free section of the Exe Estuary trail. The turning isn’t clear until you’re almost on top of it.
The path will lead you over the train tracks, via a new(ish) bridge, and before long you will cycle past Turf Locks. If open, the hotel has all sorts of food and drinks available. From Turf Locks, the path will follow the Exeter canal, rather than the river. You will cycle underneath the M5 high above, and continue until you get to the bridge over the canal. Cross to the opposite side, turning left as you get to the far side. Metres later, the path veers off to the right, and you must follow it.
You will cycle past Saddles and Paddles, and there will be lots of picnic benches on the lawn now between you and the canal. Simply continue along the path, until you get to a bridge over the canal, right by a car park. You must turn right here, then simply keep following the path. After some time, the canal will be on your immediate left and the river on your right, and soon after you’ll get to a bridge over the canal.
After crossing the bridge, turn right, keeping the river to your immediate right, then simply continue along the riverbank. You will pass underneath two road bridges, then the path will veer slightly away from the river, where there’s a footbridge across the river. Cross the river using the footbridge, and when you get to the road on the far side, turn left, and continue cycling along the shared pavement. Simply follow the shared pavement on Bonhay Road, until you see the car park for Exeter St David’s train station on your left. Turn left, and prepare to find, then board your train back to Plymouth.
Here’s the route map: