Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tarr Steps

We spent a delightful day yesterday exploring Tarr Steps, an Exmooor "attraction" that somehow defines the area yet has little of the moorland character about it.

Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps is a classic clapper bridge, possibly the best example in Britain, crossing a wide span of the River Barle, a headwater of the River Exe. The river's source is Exmoor, an upland area of Carboniferous and Devonian rocks caught within the compressive forces of the Hercynian Orogeny.

Riverbank leaves

The bridge itself is quite spectacular but the surrounding area compliments it perfectly. The river winds within a deep tree covered valley among hills with pastures for sheep and cattle. The fast running stream is crossed mostly with fords rather than bridges and we found ourselves having to make one such crossing two miles from any bridge! Thankful for deciding to wear our Tevas, we simply rolled up our shorts and waded across.

Tarr Steps Farm

When we returned to Tarr Steps we could not help but order cream tea at the local hotel and enjoyed an al fresco late lunch in their garden overlooking the Steps. Somehow the hotel (actually called Tarr Farm) manages to cater to everyone's needs, from winter-time shooting parties to summer-time day trippers. Weather considerations apart, this day was as good as any we have experienced anywhere. In fact there were times when we thought we could easily have been in Texas, hiking along the banks of the Guadalupe River, or visiting Hamilton Pool. Except, as April noted, there were no mosquitos, snakes or alligators to worry about!

Postscript: Today Google Maps introduced embedded maps. Here is a satellite image of where we walked, though the actual route isn't shown. Tarr Steps is at Lower Right:

View Larger Map