|Location Map ( geo)|
|Via:||Winsford Hill & Simonsbath|
|Distance:||20.2 miles (32.5 km)|
|Meets:||B3222, B3224, B3358, A39|
|Old route now:||B3224, A39|
|Route outline (key)|
The B3223 is a north-south route winding across Exmoor, whose southern end was re-routed sometime around 1950. Whilst it is a lengthy route, much of it is across open moorland offering stunning scenery, but little to comment on.
The B3223 starts its journey on the B3222 in the middle of the small market town of Dulverton, leaving the High Street, and passing the old Market House as we head northwards. As we head out of town, we briefly follow the banks of the River Barle, winding around the bottom of the steep sided valley. As the valley opens out a bit, the road finds a side stream to follow, climbing steeply at times, northwards out of the valley. The stream is then crossed at a near hairpin bend over the bridge at Higher Combe, followed by another steep ascent. Before long, the road straightens out, and becomes one of the great Exmoor routes, crossing the high ground of Winsford Hill quickly with good visibility while most of the villages and settlement lie in the steep valleys to either side. We pass between Winsford and Withypool, disturbed by no more than their names on the signs, before reaching the B3224 at a TOTSO west of Exford.
At White Cross, the B3224 junction, we turn left for Simonsbath, and enjoy a long relatively straight run across the higher ground of Exmoor. There are good views to the south, although the road sits a little below the ridge to the north. Then, after about 3 miles, the road turns in around the bridge at Clovenrocks and starts the descent into Simonsbath. This little village lies on the banks of the River Barle, the same river we followed as we left Dulverton, at the bottom of a steep hill. There are more sharp bends to negotiate on the way down, but the village is quickly behind us, and at the junction with the B3358, we turn northwards once more, climbing up to cross the headwaters of the River Exe. As we change county from Somerset into Devon and cross the western fringe of Brendon Common, we are nearing journey's end. Soon we are descending for the final time, around a series of sharp bends, this time to join the A39 at Hillsford Bridge, just south of Watersmeet, above Lynton and Lynmouth.
The original route of the B3223 reached the A396 north of Dulverton, near Exton. This took it through Exford and along the route of the current B3224 as far as Larcombe Farm, from where it dropped down to the River Exe and ran through Winsford. The B3223 was diverted to Dulverton after World War II and the B3224 extended west to meet its new route.
At the northern end, the B3223 originally continued west from Watersmeet to end on the A39 at Barbrook. In the early 1930s the A39 was diverted via Watersmeet, taking over a short section of the western end of the B3223.