Section 5 – Two Moors Way - Knowstone to Withypool
Distance - 14.5 miles Grade - Moderate (10 miles) and then strenuous with steep climbs and descents (4.5 miles) - What these grades mean.
The Two Moors Way today brings noticeably steeper climbs after Owlborough Moor, including a lovely bridleway from the narrow stone bridge crossing of the River Yeo valley climbing up to West Anstey, an impressive village with its old vicarage, water pump and an interesting church, once again of the widely followed Saint Petroc.
Panoramic views now confirm that you have reached the entrance to Exmoor National Park at Badlake Moor. The change is immediate as you cross wild heath between gorse and scrub, passing several impressive memorial stones and crossing Anstey Money Common, the old Vennford Boundary Stones help you navigate along an excellent heathland trail.
The wild Danes Brook Valley, lying just before the village of Hawkridge, is Exmoor in miniature, a riotous mix of heather, bracken, scrub and twisted trees hugging each side of the sweeping moorland river.
This is now Red Deer country, and you should watch out for groups moving silently between the rolling hills and wooded copse as you cross the deep valley.
On the other side is the unspoilt high ridge village of Hawkridge sitting in a commanding position over the River Barle Valley far below. Finish the day with one of the highlights of the Two Moors Way, as you descend through thick beech and ancient ash woodland to reach Exmoor’s iconic River Barle. Stepping back in time you use the ancient and these days iconic Tarr Steps, an impressively lengthy sandstone clapper bridge which fords the rushing moorland river. This is rightly Exmoor’s most famous beauty spot, and you can take it in with a cream tea at the Tarr Farm Inn.
You now turn to follow the churning Barle on one of the UK’s finest river walks, snaking your way along its banks enjoying several miles of joyous riverside trail through carpets of wildflowers and shady forest glades alive with dippers, woodpeckers and kingfishers. Deep green moss covers the rocks and lush forest that clings to the rivers banks, broken up by sections of rich water meadow as you sweep round a series of huge double bends and gentle meanders before emerging into the village of Withypool, the heartland capital of Exmoor National Park itself.