Tarr Steps to Withypool along the River Barle
Combining 3 of our great interests in life – food, the countryside and walking – this is a popular day out at Big House HQ.
Although only a 45 minute drive from Wellington HQ, we like to break the journey for coffee and cake in Dulverton. You can even do the same on your return journey with evening fish and chips by the river & a pint from the pub, but we leave that to your conscience and your cardiologists’ advice!
Wonderful scenery all the way to Tarr Steps, snaking along the river, through the narrow, quaint streets of Dulverton, up onto the moor with wild ponies roaming and then dipping down again into the wooded valley.
Park either at the top in the designated car park for Tarr Steps and walk down to the river or if you’ve got 4 x 4 going down to the wide (sometimes quite deep) ford and driving through is fun; your kids/the kid in you, will love it.
The ancient stone clapper bridge known as Tarr Steps possibly dates to around 1000 BC. It’s 180 feet long with 17 spans and according to local legend, the stones were placed by the devil who still has sunbathing rights over them! In the winter of 2012 half of the bridge was washed away by the heavily swollen river. All of the pieces were found, brought back upstream and re-assembled. Good as (1000 year old) new.
After you’ve admired the bridge, walk along the marked path (car park side) signed to Withypool (GR844354), this runs mainly beside the river, so easy on the map reading skills. Such a pretty walk, along the way you’ll pass in and out of peaceful woodlands where deer roam and there’s plenty of birdlife too.
It’s worth sitting by the river at some point and just listening to the water, watching out for fish jumping or the occasional kingfisher. Currently (summer 2015) there are poetry boxes through the woods, to encourage the laureate in you to leave a verse or two.
Once you’ve reached Withypool, a picnic lunch is great or feast at the 300 year old Royal Oak pub. Try the monkfish goujons; finer, we have not tasted! On your return journey, either retrace your steps or add in a loop that takes you along the ridge of the hill with far reaching views of Exmoor. Worth it, but a steep climb.
Back at Tarr Steps, the tea rooms by the bridge serves all manner of refreshments, cream teas and ice-creams for the weary walker in need of a recharge.
The entire walk should take you 3 hours, but we like to dilly dally and maybe you do too! Enjoy.
The Copper Kettle, Fore Street, Dulverton, 01398 323697. Great views from the tea garden, conservatory or indoor seating and ambitious size pieces of cake.
The Royal Oak, Withypool, 01643 831506. A charming old pub. Good food & beer, Sunday roast too.