Tarr Steps is an example of a 'clapper' bridge (the term being derived from the Latin 'claperius', meaning 'pile of stones') and is constructed entirely from large stone slabs and boulders.
Main habitats: Woodland
Area: 33.5 Ha
Site map: Nature on the Map.
Although most NNRs are managed by Natural England, 88 are wholly or partly managed by other bodies approved by Council, under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Tarr Steps Woodland NNR is owned and managed by the Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA).
The bridge is listed as a scheduled monument but, although it was once thought to be prehistoric, it is now widely believed to be of mediaeval origin.
The name 'Tarr' is thought to be derived from the Celtic word 'tochar', meaning 'causeway'.
The reserve primarily consists of oak woodland growing on acid free-draining soils, but pockets of richer soil support ash, hazel and sycamore, while drier areas have been colonized by beech. The woodland is important for its moss, liverwort and lichen populations. In the spring visitors to the woods can see extensive carpets of bluebell.
The reserve has a small population of dormice and the River Barle, which runs through the site, is home to otters.
In the past much of the woodland was coppiced to provide charcoal for the local iron smelting industry.
Tarr Steps Woodland is near the southern boundary of the Exmoor National Park mid-way between the villages of Liscombe and Hawkridge. Access by car is via minor roads from the B3223.
A bus route from Minehead to Tiverton runs along the B3223 within 2 km of the reserve. Contact the First Group for details.
There is an ENPA car park on the Liscombe to Hawkwood road approximately 1 km from the reserve. There are information boards at the car park and at Tarr Bridge.
There are many footpaths in the area and a circular trail goes through, and beyond, the reserve following the course of the River Barle as far as the village of Withypool.
The nearest refreshment and toilet facilities are in local villages.