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Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps

You will find Tarr Steps in the Barle Valley in Exmoor. There is a common misconception that Exmoor National Park is solely in Devon. Not so. Huge swathes of this stunning area are in Somerset and among the incredible sites which lie here is Tarr Steps.

Tarr Steps

Getting to Tarr Steps  

There are several different approaches to Tarr Steps. When you arrive at the pretty town of Dulverton you are around 5 miles away. Follow the winding roads (Tarr Steps is well sign posted) and you will arrive at a pay and display car park. There are toilets here together with useful guides and information.

Tarr Steps

Path from the car park

A path leads out of the car park towards the woods and the steps. It’s a relatively short walk (downhill all the way) and there is disabled parking at the bottom.

A very special place

It really is a magical place. The Barle Valley is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest while the woods around Tarr Steps are also designated as a National Nature Reserve. The whole area hums with wildlife. The clean, damp air allows lichens and mosses to flourish while the unpolluted river is home to otters, eels and amphibians.

Barle Valley

Tarr Steps and the Devil

Tarr Steps is a “clapper” bridge that crosses the River Barle. It is the longest of its kind in Britain. While the length can be determined, its age cannot. Legend has it that this ancient fording point was built by the Devil. No-one can cross this 17-span bridge if he decides to sunbathe on the slabs!

Circular walk

Cross the bridge and bear right to pick up a well marked path.

Barle Valley

Path by the River Barle

This meanders alongside the River Barle. You really feel immersed in Mother Nature. The sights and sounds are incredibly relaxing. For children (or anyone young at heart) there are a couple of rope swings. There is a bridge a short way down designed to ‘catch’ fallen trees and large branches.

Bridge to ‘catch’ trees

Heavy rains in 2012 led to parts of Tarr Steps being washed downstream. (The position of each stone is recorded, so engineers can rebuild it more easily.) Tarr Steps was rebuilt in February 2013 but you would never know it. They look ancient and rooted in the landscape.

Continue on and you will arrive at a bridge. Choose to cross the river and you can either turn right back towards the car park or bear left to explore more. (The short circular walk is approximately 2 kilometres.)

Barle Valley

Crossing point

For those heading away from Tarr Steps the going gets a little trickier. There are places which are very uneven and get extremely wet. The rewards are worth it though. Beautiful avenues of lichen covered trees and tranquil spots alongside the river which are ideal for a picnic.

Barle Valley

Stunning trees

Follow the blue markers and eventually you will be greeted by the sight of stepping stones across the River Barle. Adventurers – and those who don’t mind getting wet -can cross here and then head back towards Tarr Steps.

The Barle Valley

Stepping stones

The Bluebells

The ancient woodland isn’t just home to an amazing array of trees. Walk through the woodland in spring time to enjoy a spectacular display of bluebells. It’s incredible to think that below the beautiful flora lies the remains of charcoal burning platforms and ornamental water features! Stark reminders how the woods have been used by people over hundreds of years.

Tarr Steps and the Barle Valley are very special places. Simply magical and well worth a visit. Just watch out for the Devil if the sun is shining!

If you love nature, find our more about Birdwatching in Somerset.

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