The Remarkable Tarka the Otter Statue in Bideford

Bideford, North Devon, takes great pride in its connection to the beloved character Tarka the Otter, the protagonist of Henry Williamson’s classic novel.

In the heart of this picturesque, quay-side town, you’ll find an enchanting bronze Tarka the Otter statue that symbolizes Bideford’s deep appreciation for the literary icon.

A Dream Come True: The Birth of the Tarka Statue

The idea of creating a beautiful bronze Tarka the Otter statue began as a simple thought in the mind of Tonia Quance, a member of Businesses of Bideford (B.O.B), during a gloomy February meeting.

Through dedicated fundraising, collaboration with various people and organizations, and the exceptional skills of sculptor Rowan Fawdon of Ash Tree Pottery, Tonia’s vision transformed into reality.

In 2017, the bronze Tarka found its permanent home on the Quay in Bideford, EX39 2HW, serving as a reminder of the town’s treasured literary connection.

Tarka’s Legacy: The Influence of a Literary Icon

Tarka the Otter has left a lasting impact on Bideford and its surrounding areas, and the town has wholeheartedly embraced the character’s spirit. Many local features have been named in Tarka’s honour, paying tribute to the legacy that Henry Williamson’s novel has left behind.

Among the most prominent is the Tarka Trail, a long-distance footpath and cycle path that stretches across North Devon.

The trail provides visitors and residents alike with picturesque landscapes to explore, allowing them to retrace Tarka’s footsteps and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region.

Visiting the Tarka statue in Bideford offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the town’s literary heritage and enjoy the stunning surroundings that inspired the timeless tale of Tarka the Otter.

Tarka Otter Statue Reviews

Below are the latest reviews of Tarka Otter Statue.

4.0
Based on 12 reviews
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Opening Hours:
Monday: Open 24 hours
Tuesday: Open 24 hours
Wednesday: Open 24 hours
Thursday: Open 24 hours
Friday: Open 24 hours
Saturday: Open 24 hours
Sunday: Open 24 hours
Address: The Quay, Bideford EX39 2AG, UK

Angus Hamilton avatarAngus Hamilton
3 months ago
Oh dear. Poor tired old Bideford – superficially it looks quite nice but in reality it's very dreary with very little going for it. The stone bridge is an impressive structure and I wasn't aware of the Tarka the Otter connection but the town seemed dead and all the shops in the Pannier were shut at 4.30pm.
Tarka is a local legend, growing up on the mean streets of Torrington, Tarka started hanging around with the wrong group of otters so his parents moved him to his Aunt's to get a better chance at life in Weare Giffard and it was here that Tarka really made a name for himself. Single handedly rising the otter population by 600% and fighting off the local bully Terry the water weasel. Tarka was found dead one day after a night out with some promiscuous lady otters and it is believed that he had an accidental overdose. Bideford decided to commemorate Tarkas success in rising the numbers of otters in the area by creating this lovely statue.
Chrissie Room avatarChrissie Room
6 years ago
Love how Tarka has quickly become a landmark in Bideford. You are encouraged to have your photo taken with him and post it to his Facebook page. A great addition to Bideford.
Harvey Room avatarHarvey Room
5 years ago
This is the site where a statue of Tarka the Otter is situated. It was placed on the Quay by a number of agencies including B.O.B. or Businesses of Bideford. It is a bronze statue that sits on it's own platform next to the river Torridge.
james gardner avatarjames gardner
4 months ago
Sweet little statue
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Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

Visiting the Tarka Statue

The Tarka statue is easily accessible and located near the town’s historic Pannier Market and Bideford’s beautiful waterfront.

Visitors can walk along the Quay and take in the picturesque views of the River Torridge while admiring the intricate craftsmanship of the statue.

Did you know? If you’re aged 6 or under and smooth Tarka gently, he can be heard to purr?!

Tarka the Otter 1978 Film

This is a summary of the Tarka story from the 1978 film. Obviously, it contains spoilers, so if you intend to read the book, look away now!

  • Sure, here are the bullet points without emojis:
  • Tarka the Otter is a story about the life of an otter named Tarka, who grows and learns in the North Devonshire countryside.
  • Tarka’s world revolves around the Canal Bridge and the surrounding area, where various animals live and interact.
  • Tarka shares a den called “Owlery Holt” with a white owl named Eldridge.
  • The story also features Deadlock, a dog with a strong desire to hunt otters, which creates tension and danger for Tarka and his family.
  • Tarka experiences various stages of growth, from being a blind, helpless cub to learning how to hunt, fish, and avoid danger.
  • Along the way, Tarka encounters new friends such as the Brent Goose, and enemies like the salmon fishermen who view otters as vermin.
  • Tarka falls in love with a female otter named White Tip, but his love is challenged by a larger, more aggressive male otter.
  • Tarka’s journey takes him to various locations throughout the countryside, from the estuary to the source of the rivers.
  • Tarka the Otter meets White Tip and they form a strong bond.
  • The otters experience the beauty of nature and changing seasons.
  • White Tip gives birth to cubs while Tarka visits his birthplace.
  • The otter hunters begin their season, targeting Tarka.
  • Tarka tries to outsmart and evade the hunters.
  • Tarka faces multiple obstacles and trespassing accusations during the hunt.
  • Exhausted and trapped, Tarka desperately tries to escape.
  • The otter hunters capture Deadlock, leaving Tarka’s fate uncertain.

Nearby Attractions

While visiting the Tarka statue, you may also want to explore other nearby attractions in Bideford, such as the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, which often hosts exhibitions related to Tarka the Otter and other local art and history.

There is so much you can do in and around Bideford, see our “Things to do” directory for all the sights.

In Summary

Visiting the Tarka statue in Bideford offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the town’s literary heritage and enjoy the stunning surroundings that inspired the timeless tale of Tarka the Otter.

By taking the time to explore this beautiful area, you’ll discover the cultural history of Bideford, right on the quay side and an appreciation for the natural world that continues to captivate readers today.

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to Bideford.com! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

On this site, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge amassed from my adventures here. From in-depth local guides to engaging blog posts about Bideford. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on things to do or guidance on where to stay we have you covered. Join me as we delve into the heart of Bideford, North Devon – a town that’s more than just a destination, but an experience waiting to be discovered.

Do you want to see your favourite Bideford attraction, place to stay, event or activity listed here? Contact Us!