Winsford Hill is a heath-covered common, managed by the National Trust. The three Bronze Age Wambarrows mark the highest point, with good views to Dunkery, Dartmoor and the Blackdown Hills. It is a popular place to see the pure-bred Exmoor ponies and to view The Punchbowl, a unique geological feature of the hill.
Below it, to the South West, runs the River Barle as it flows through the sheltered wooded valley and is crossed by the iconic Tarr Steps, an ancient ‘clapper’ bridge.
The common can be easily found from the centre of Winsford by taking the lane to the right of the Royal Oak Inn. There are gentle walks on the hill and along the River Barle to Tarr Steps. Parking for coaches and with facilities is close by.
At Spire Cross, there is a standing stone inscribed ‘CARAACI NEPUS’, which means a relative of Caratacus, possibly the British leader who resisted the Roman invasion. However, the stone appears to have been inscribed centuries after his death. It once lay broken but now has a small shelter to protect it.
It is thought that the stone dates from the 6th Century and was probably erected as a memorial to a person who claimed the first-century British Chieftain Caratacus as an ancestor.
In the 17th century, Tom Faggus, a highwayman and a gentleman (and also featured in RD Blackmore’s ‘Lorna Doone’), was said to have held up travellers near the inn in nearby Winsford village. The village Church is a Grade I listed building and has six bells, the four heaviest were made by Thomas Bilbie in Cullompton in 1765.
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