Walking Tour: Tarr Steps

  • Start Dulverton Church, Fore St
  • End Fore St, Dulverton
  • Distance 12 miles
  • Duration Eight hours
  • Difficulty Moderate

Skirt the south side of Dulverton church, joining the uphill track. Ignore the path leading left to Marsh Bridge; instead, cross the field, take the right fork, then climb to turn left onto a narrow road. Cut left onto a blue-labelled footpath, past Highercombe Farm and onto the moor. Head right at the road, then straight on at the cattle grid. Soon there’s another road and cattle grid; cut left here, onto the open moorland and Winsford Hill’s lower slopes. The valley views are fabulous; look out for the free-roaming Exmoor ponies with anchor brands on their backs.

Eventually high moorland gives way to a wooded river valley, where a right fork leads to the mighty stone slabs of Tarr Steps. After an icy paddle (if the river isn’t flooded), the Tarr Farm Inn is an idyllic spot for lunch.

Cross the Barle via those massive stone steps, then peel right following the blue waymarked route up Parsonage Farm drive. At the road, go straight on through the fields (by now following yellow waymarks) into the village of Hawkridge. Head past the church to fork right down Row Lane, joining the Exe Valley Way to Dulverton. This plunges back into the tranquil woodland framing the river: a mossy, Tolkien-esque landscape of ancient trees that’s home to dormice, frogs and otters. As you cross the stone footbridge at Castle Bridge, the wood-fringed embankments of the Iron Age hill fort Mounsey Castle rise from the opposite bank. The footpath then hugs a river that snakes to Marsh Bridge; stay on the south side of the waterway here. Follow it back to Dulverton, walking over the River Barle bridge, up Bridge St, then High St and back to Fore St. Ideally, take the Ordnance Survey map OL9; Exmoor (£9) on this walk, too.