And now comes the last walk! This was our inadvertantly rather adventure-strewn walk. We were walking the five miles around Tarr Steps, a 3000-year-old clapper bridge across the River Barle.

The day before, Kirsten has reacted with surprise when I said I always felt a bit of panic about meeting up because I was worried I wouldn’t get the right place. She didn’t think I was the sort of person to panic at anything. Ah well, now Kirsten knows why . . .

My big mistake was in not buying an Ordnance Survey map when I arrived, as this would have not only allayed my usual panic, it would have averted Sunday’s mishap altogether, because there is a crucial difference between using Ordnance Survey maps and using Google maps. OS maps are for people who navigate by using maps. Consequently, they show all the roads, all the car parks, all the landmarks in a given area. Google maps are for people who navigate by using sat navs. So they only need to know where they are starting and where they are finishing and not really much else. Unfortunately, I am a map navigator and I set out with a Google map. Or two. Or three, as my friends in Ilfracombe had also printed me out a Google map.

Google maps tend to look like they are being very clear when they are, in fact, being quite obscure. One of their weirder habits is calling roads by local names, such as Long Lane and Room Hill Lane, which are not on any of the road signs, instead using road numbers, such as B3223, which will be on the road signs. This doesn’t matter if you have some disembodied voice saying, ‘Turn right here’. It is not so good if you are actually trying to find evidence of Long Lane in the real world. Nonetheless, I thought I was following the map just fine. Indeed, for the first time on the whole weekend, I thought I knew where I was going. I zipped through the village of Simonbath, just like it said, discerned that Room Hill Lane was also the B3223, and I turned off at the first turning signposted Tarr Steps. There was a lovely little car park with two other cars and, at the far end, a sign pointing down a footpath that said ‘Tarr Steps’. Bingo! I parked my car. It was 9:45.

Ten o’clock came and no sign yet of the others. My car park had a nice moorland view, so I enjoyed that. Then I got out and chatted with the man in the adjacent car for a while. His wife was disabled and he wondered about going across Tarr Steps. We wondered if it would rain. Then we wondered if we should put sunscreen on, because the sun had come out. It was 10:15. Still no sign of the others.

Having plenty of time to observe what was going on in my locality, I was a little perplexed by the fact that quite a few cars went by the car park and they were driving fairly fast. When I had first arrived, I had driven a little past the car park just to see where the lane went and it quickly deteriorated into a farm track to a farmhouse in a bunch of trees. I did wonder why so many people were going there and I should have paid more attention to that wonder! Meanwhile, it got to 10:30. I was getting distinctly concerned, and all the more so because we notoriously did not have phone signals in Devon. I did, however, have a small signal. First I texted Kirsten to see where she was. When there was no response, I attempted to phone her. Nope. I wasn’t quite sure what was best to do at this point, so I just stayed where I was, especially as I had a signal.

Then at 10:45, finally a phone call from Kirsten. Unfortunately, the signal kept breaking up, so I couldn’t understand where she was in relation to where I was nor how to get from one place to another, because I was only hearing about every third word. So I made off that I would go to Tarr Steps itself, since I knew where that was, and I’d meet her and the others there.

Once we’d rung off, I got my kit out of the car and started to walk down the footpath to Tarr Steps. However, the moment I started down the path, a car appeared and this was the first indication I had that this was not a footpath but actually a road! It was that narrow I had not realized it was meant for cars from just looking at it (which describes quite a few of the roads over the weekend!) But this was clearly where all the cars had been going, not to the farm. And after walking about 500 yards down it, I realized Tarr Steps were further down in the valley than I thought and I went back to get my car and adventure down this tiny little tunnel of a road myself.

When I did, about a mile down, there was another car park. And four people in red shirts – Andreas, Alex, Carline and Kate. I have NEVER been so happy to see people in red shirts before in my life!



I parked my car in the car park there and told them that I had spoken with Kirsten and said we’d all meet at Tarr Steps. So the five of us set out to walk to Tarr Steps. As it turns out, we didn’t have much of a walk. Tarr Steps was only about a quarter of a mile further down the road!

Hmmm, I was thinking. There was a path immediately to our right, so I suggested we start walking along it and meet up with the others coming towards us. Ah, but Carline says, there is also a path on the other side of the river. Which one will they be coming down? As it turns out, it was very fortunate indeed that there were two paths and, hence, we did not take either of them, because in fact, the group came from a third way and had we attempted to go meet them, I would have only have gotten us lost for a second time that day! So we sat down to wait. (That’s Tarr Steps behind Alex.)



At least the three of us sat down to wait. Andreas decided to make the best of a bad situation and went to the ice cream stand.



Unbeknownst to us, the others had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere up on the moors and they were having a rather less lush time of it. (Robyn in back, then Hannah C. and Rachael.)



It soon became apparent that waiting was going to prove just as much of a challenge as walking, especially for Alex, who was soon looking for something to climb, run up or otherwise expend energy.



She settled on the idea of getting out to a little island in the river, so off she went across Tarr Steps.




And out into the water.






Success!