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Food to tempt you away from a devil's sunbed

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 28, 2013

By Rosanna Rothery

  • WASHED AWAY: What remains of Tarr Steps.

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THE stone crossing at Tarr Steps is being restored just in time for the warmer weather. Good news because, apparently, this ancient clapper bridge is a great distraction for the devil, who is said to have sunbathing rights on the stones.

As many will know, in December, the bridge, an iconic natural Exmoor attraction, was swept away by a raging, swollen river Barle. So, for those of us who love to do a circular stroll along the river banks, it's wonderful to hear that we will once again traverse the flowing ford on those magnificent stones.

Not, though, if Satan is sprawled out on the slabs, sporting his sunnies and soaking up the rays. According to local legend, nobody can get past the blighter then. Should such rare circumstances occur, I usually find it's best to head to the nearby pub.

Tarr Farm Inn is a rustic, cosy, cottage-style pub from the outside, a welcoming sight when you've got stinging hail on your cheeks. Today is one of those days where those glorious golden hues, so beloved by Beelzebub, give way abruptly to dark menacing clouds. We've had it all: sun, rain, hail and wind. Give me wood burners, a smoked fish stew and shelter.

Luckily, the low-ceilinged intimate restaurant can make all three of my wishes come true.

A tasty fishy stew, fortified with new potatoes, is creamy, satisfying sustenance for those who rather rudely find themselves in the middle of a damp gale. While a very good and generous piece of sirloin beef, surrounded by excellent home-cooked Yorkshire and veg, makes for the ultimate Sunday gratification.

I must admit I feel slightly confused as to protocol in this cosy Exmoor hideaway. I can't see any signs about ordering food (maybe I've missed them) and a waitress is taking orders at a nearby table. In the end, to calm rumbling tums, we take matters in to our own hands and order mains then desserts at the bar.

My warm, chocolate truffle cake with chocolate sauce and hazelnut ice cream is chocaliciously scrumptious. It's one for the choccie connoisseur: not over-powered by sugar like an inferior pud would be. An apple crumble, meanwhile, makes for traditional comfort food.

On a day when sunny Exmoor turns, quite suddenly, in to the wildest, wettest place imaginable, it's lovely to be looking out at raindrops dripping on to lush green mosses and lichens. What a wonderful setting, high above a raging river. A veritable haven from buffeting wind and hail.

Where: Tarr Farm Inn, Tarr Steps, Dulverton, Exmoor, TA22 9PY.

Bookings: 01643 851507.

Website: www.tarr farm.co.uk

Cost: The above meal for two came to £41.80 with drinks.

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