Horsham Steps, Manaton, Dartmoor National Park

Horsham Steps, Manaton, Dartmoor National Park

'Steps' on Dartmoor usually refer to stepping stones used to cross the National Park's many rivers and streams. Some steps are man-made. Others are natural features. The steps crossing the River Bovey below the tiny hamlet Horsham at the upper end of the Bovey Valley are a natural collection of huge boulders on a bend in the river. You can usually cross the river here. If the water's high, thankfully, there are bridges north west and south east of Horsham Steps.

We've positioned Horsham Steps on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see their location.

The River Bovey flows from the high moors down to Foxworthy at the head of the Bovey Valley. The river enters a stunning section of steep-sided cleaves. A short way downstream of Foxworthy, the water flows under, around and, sometimes, over boulders before tumbling into a pool of water in the bend of the river at Horsham Steps.

On the ground, Horsham Steps is a vast collection of boulders huddled up against one another. It's sometimes referred to as a boulder jam. Most of the boulders are partially covered with moss. A strip of walking boot-polished rock marks the way across the boulders. The boulders are big and uneven. You have to step very carefully from boulder to boulder to cross the water. Downstream, beyond the clear pool of water, is a sandy beach area on the south bank of the river.

It's a wild place. Trees topple over in storms. You might have to climb over fallen trees as you enter or exit the steps. Clearly, given water and moss, the boulders can be very slippery. The bank on the Horsham side of the river is reasonably steep so take care there as well.

To visit, head from Manaton, Freeland or Water to Horsham. Paths are clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map. From Horsham, the path runs along a walled section before it drops very steeply to the river. There's a waymarker before you get to the river giving you the option to walk to Foxworthy Bridge. This is your 'out' if the river is in spate and the steps impassable. Cross the steps and you'll pick up another track on the north bank that connects with the main path that runs diagonally from Foxworthy to Hammerslake in Lustleigh Cleave.

Running north west to south east, other crossing places in the Bovey Valley include Foxworthy Bridge, Clam Bridge, Hisley Bridge and Drakeford Bridge all the way at the other end of the valley towards the National Trust's Parke.