tarr steps, exmoor

A few weeks ago we took a trip out of the parish, over the border to Devon and the bucolic refines of Dulverton. We were going to celebrate a big family birthday and (following an epic 5 hour ‘pre-lunch’ hike two years ago) the agenda was pretty strict – lots of eating and drinking, and only gentle strolling.

Just two and a half hours away from the north Cornish coastline we’re familiar with and the landscape couldn’t be more different. Rolling, wooded hills and a distinct over population of pheasants.

The area is riddled footpaths, so getting the three dogs we had with us out and about for sniffs was far from a problem. We could step straight out of the front door and onto a path that ran through woodland and alongside a river for a good two miles, trek out onto the vast craggy moorland for views obscured by mizzle and cloud, or head just a few miles from Dulverton, to the ancient monument of Tarr Steps.

An ancient clapper bridge crossing the River Barle, Tarr Steps is constructed of huge, unmortared slabs of stone. The construction is typical of the Bronze Age but the antiquity of this one is disputed with some dating it as late as Medieval. The local legend however goes way back, claiming that the bridge was constructed by the Devil. The myth involves something to do with satanic sunbathing rights and killing a cat that tried to cross the bridge. I’m not going to completely discount the story, but all I can say is that the black dog took a gallop across and back and he’s still here to tell the tale.

It’s a beautiful spot, with circular walks that run on adjacent banks and a wide, shallow expanse of water, interrupted by huge bolders. You could lounge around here all day, dipping your toes in the water, looking up through the green haze of leaf canopy, and gathering sustenance from the very lovely Tarr Farm Inn – which serves good local food and ale and boasts an elevated beer garden with views down over the river crossing.

We stayed at Hunts Farm, Bury – quite possibly the only place in the south west that welcomes up to 3 dogs.

And we ate out on Saturday night at Woods Wine Bar – very tasty food with a modern, bourgeois menu and lots and lots and lots of lovely wine – so lovely in fact that they’ve won lots of awards, including Somerset Wine Pub of the Year and National Wine Pub of the Year


ancient oak tree, exmoor


the hunt's farm alarm clock

the hunt’s farm alarm clock

a hopeful black dog

a hopeful black dog, a pure breed lab owned by my dad

black dog crossing tarr steps

my black dog crossing tarr steps


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