Stay off the Tarka Trail – train race organisers

Joseph Bulmer

Keep trail clear for James’ big race on Saturday

PEOPLE are being asked to keep the Tarka Trail clear between Bideford and Barnstaple when North Devon stages its big railway race between tiny trains this weekend.

James May’s Toy Stories: The Great Train Race will see the television presenter and his wine expert friend Oz Clarke take on the might of a team of German miniature railway enthusiasts in a race between the two towns.

The television offshoot of May’s unsuccessful Toy Story attempt to run a miniature railway between the towns in 2009 will see the teams working on the trail on Friday in preparation for a 7am race start on Saturday from opposite ends of the track.

Devon County Council warns that Tarka Trail will be severely restricted for the two days during the preparations and filming of the event.

There will be limited pedestrian access available, but the trail between Bideford and Barnstaple will be closed to all cycling. It will, however, be open as normal between Barnstaple and Braunton and Bideford and Meeth.

Martin Caddy of DCC said: “As there will be two tracks running the full length of the trail, with stewards and support staff on site, we would encourage all people to avoid the trail for the two day period. If the public would like to cheer on or watch the event there will be facilities at Bideford and Barnstaple Stations. James is determined to win the race. With the two teams running trains at the same time, there is going to be lots of activity on the trail. We would ask every one to stay away from the trail for the two days so James can win and lift the trophy for North Devon!”

Spectators are welcome to cheer on the teams at either of the stations, where town criers will provide regular updates on progress. Model layouts are being built at the stations and at Bideford there will also be a steam fair.

Bideford Town Band will play at Bideford station at 5pm on Friday and be included in the filming. The band is also hoping James might find time to conduct them as he has a music degree.