There is prehistoric stonework at the source of the Taw to suggest that this North Devon river that flows down from Dartmoor has been a significant route-way for thousands of years. Indeed once off the more the meandering line of the Taw is followed fairly faithfully by both motorists and cyclists, as both the A377 into Barnstaple and the erstwhile railway line (better known now as part of the Tarka Trail) criss-cross its path.
Passing through South Tawton, North Tawton, in its early stages and Tawstock and Bishop’s Tawton just before it reaches the sea, the name of this Devon waterway would appear to have the same root as the Tay in Scotland and comes, in all likelihood, from the Welsh word “taw” meaning silent. Although there is also a suggestion that it could also be linked to other words suggesting that it is a “strong” or “swelling” river. Certainly it is an important one and stretches of its estuary harbour some of the most significant nature reserves in the country.