Tarr Steps – circular riverside walk on Exmoor with optional pub lunch!
Two-mile circular walk (not suitable for buggies)
Summer river paddling
Take a picnic or have a pub lunch
Check out the mysterious ‘money trees’
Parking £3 all day – pay by card
Use postcode TA22 9QA
This is a great spot for a circular walk (approx. 2 miles) around the beautiful river Barle in Exmoor National Park, Somerset. In the summer the river is usually shallow enough to paddle (bring a fishing net and a bucket for extra fun!) and there’s a calm, deeper section a short way upstream for confident swimmers to have a wild swim on warm days – river conditions pending! In autumn the woods turn golden and it's the perfect place for a welly stomp.
Once you’ve navigated the winding, narrow country lanes to Tarr Steps, there’s plenty of parking in the signposted car park. Be sure to use the postcode TA22 9QA (and not the postcode of the pub/on the map below!) or you risk arriving on the wrong side of the river - and unless you drive a gigantic 4x4 I wouldn’t recommend giving the river crossing a go.
The parking charge is £3 all day, payable by card (no cash). There are toilet and changing facilities in the car park.
Follow the footpath downhill from the car park for 5 minutes or so and you’ll reach the ancient clapper bridge made from balanced slabs of stone, and Tarr Farm Inn – a traditional Hunting Lodge-style inn that serves lunch and snacks daily.
You can start the circular walk from either side of the stone bridge by turning right, following the orange waymarkers. The footpath is uneven and muddy in places, not suitable for buggies, and wellies/boots are recommended. Some sections are rocky underfoot and have a steep drop on one side, taking you through the valley, into the woods and along the riverbank with some great picnic spots (take a blanket) and a couple of rope swings along the way. Cross the first footbridge you come to, which is your halfway point, and make your way back along the other side of the river.
Not far from the pub, on the pub-side of the river, you’ll stumble across a curious collection of fallen tree branches. On closer inspection you will see these are in fact ‘money trees’! Our girls were fascinated with these logs the last time we came, which are covered in old coins that have been hammered into the wood. There’s nothing there to explain these mysterious branches but one theory is that for each coin added, a wish is granted – so this time the kids came armed with a small hammer and some loose change!
The pub serves cream teas, drinks, snacks and lunches (kids menu available) and is open daily from 11.00, with indoor seating and lots of outdoor seating in their front and rear beer gardens which have views over the river and valley. Daytime walk-ins are welcome and is very casual, though Dinner is a more formal affair and bookings are preferred.