Tarr Steps Woodland National Nature Reserve
The Tarr Steps Woodland NNR is best known for its ancient clapper bridge called Tarr Steps, a Scheduled Ancient Monument that spans the River Barle. But the surrounding moss-covered woodlands are also of high importance for nature conservation. The woodlands at Tarr Steps is owned and managed by the Exmoor National Park Authority and consists of three woods: Liscombe Wood, Knaplock Wood and North Barton Wood. Together, they make an area of about 82 acres. Management work at Tarr Steps Woods includes gap creation and thinning to improve the balance of light and shade and encourage the growth of woodland flowers. The main reason for the NNR designation was because of its rare lichens, such as lungwort lichen, which thrive in the moist, clean air of the valley. But woodland birds such as tawny owls, pied flycatchers and green and greater spotted woodpeckers also live in the woodlands and mammals include otters and dormice.
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About The area
Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.
Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.
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