Tarr Steps.

Start. Tarr Steps car park.

Route. Tarr Steps car park - Tarr Steps Farm Inn - Tarr Steps - Tarr Steps Woodland - North Barton Wood - Knaplock Wood - Tarr Steps - Tarr Steps Farm Inn - Tarr Steps car park.

Notes. Heavy drizzle, low cloud, high humidity, it's far too warm to walk in waterproofs, welcome to North Devon. Here at Tarr Steps we were just under the cloud base, we've hacked chunks off our intended route, who wants to get lost in the swirling Exmoor mist. Tarr Steps is possibly one of the oldest bridges in the world, that's a hell of a claim to make considering it's been re-built several times. A quick look at the map tells you just how important this river crossing was, several paths, bridleways and lanes meet at this point, two of which date back to the Bronze Age suggesting this was a crossing point over 4,000 years ago.

We parked in the Tarr Steps car park above the valley of Little River, a well trod path guided us passed Tarr Steps Farm Inn to Tarr Steps themselves, the longest clapper bridge in the British Isles. After crossing said bridge, 17 spans in all we headed up stream, the peat stained waters of the River Barle our constant companion. They tell me the woods in this valley are a Mecca for bird watchers, I saw little through rain spattered spectacles. Well graded paths guided us through Tarr Steps Woodland, around a mile of easy rambling, on reaching a foot-bridge we crossed the river to start the short walk back. What perfect timing, they were serving the first meals of the day at Tarr Steps Farm Inn and an excellent watering hole it turned out to be.

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Views taken from Tarr Steps car park, west over the valley of the River Barle.

Tarr Steps possibly a river crossing for the past 4,000 years.

A slightly different view, not one you get in the tourist brochures.

Strolling in the rain through the wooded valley of the River Barle.

Views over Tarr Steps Woodland.

Back at Tarr Steps, lets end with a piece of useless information. "clapper" probably comes from the Saxon "cleaca" meaning stepping stones, the first clapper bridges arose as stone slabs were laid across existing stepping stones.

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