Dunster, Exmoor National Park

Dunster, Exmoor National Park

Stunning, historic village on the eastern border of Exmoor National Park.

One of the most popular destinations in Exmoor, Dunster is dominated by its National Trust castle. The village is situated on the eastern border of the National Park close to Minehead and the Exmoor/West Somerset coastline. Top place for local food and drink. Dunster Estate is home to the tallest tree in England.

 

Best things to do in Dunster

To help you choose Dunster, we've listed some of the local attractions below.

 

History

National Trust's Dunster Castle. One of Exmoor's most popular visitor attractions, Dunster Castle dominates the village. Essential visiting.

English Heritage's Dunster Yarn Market, Butter Cross and Gallox Bridge. Once you've explored the castle, discover Dunster's 17th-century octagonal market hall and butter cross at which cloth and butter were traded. Wander over to Gallox Bridge to see where packhorses transported fleeces to market.

A little further away, visit English Heritage's Cleeve Abbey. Highly recommended for those with an interest in history and culture. According to English Heritage, the abbey has 'the most impressively complete and unaltered set of monastic cloister buildings in England'. Highlights include a floor covered with 13th-century heraldic tiles and an extraordinary painted chamber although the latter was closed on our visit and you could only experience the paintings through viewing windows.

 

Dunster Estate walking

Find the Dunster Douglas which is the tallest tree in England. Follow the A396 south west of Dunster and you come to a skinny road on your left that takes you to a large car parking area in Hats Wood. Various walking trails take in the Dunster Douglas.

 

Coastal walking

Walk to Dunster Beach and follow the West Somerset Way west to Minehead and the beginning/end of the South West Coast Path. Return on the West Somerset Railway.

 

Beaches

Dunster Beach. Huge low tide sand, shingle and pebble beach looking out across Blue Anchor Bay. There's plenty of parking at Sea Lane End. It's also a very easy walk from the main car park at Dunster via a tunnel running under the A39.

Minehead Beach. Another huge sand beach lining the Minehead coastline. Exceptionally popular.

 

Moorland

Dunkery Beacon. Take the A396 from Dunster to Wheddon Cross and then the B3324 to Blagdon Cross. From the latter, follow the skinny moorland road to the car parking area by Dunkery Gate and Dunkery Bridge. It's a short, sharp climb to Dunkery Beacon which is the highest point on Exmoor. The views are immense on a clear day. Heather is intoxicating in late August/early September.

 

Visitor attractions

West Somerset Railway. Runs from the east border of Exmoor at Minehead and then Dunster to Bishops Lydeard below the Quantock Hills. Super family attraction. It's fun to walk the coast path between Dunster and Minehead and then catch the train back.

 

Pretty villages

Selworthy. Stunning thatched cottages surround a green in this idyllic Exmoor village that's managed by the National Trust. Enjoy a cream tea at the tea rooms. If you have the time and energy, we'd very much recommend yomping up to the viewpoint by the car parking area on top of Bossington Hill near Selworthy Beacon for glorious views of coast and high moor. A path is marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL9 'Exmoor' map.

Bossington. Selworthy, Allerford and Bossington are villages located in an arc at the base of Bossington Hill. Selworthy is to the east, Allerford to the centre and Bossington by the coast. From Bossington, wander down to Bossington Beach or Hurlstone Point. Visit the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre between Bossington and Allerford. We'd also recommend a trip to The West Somerset Rural Life Museum in Allerford.

Porlock. The A39 runs from the edge of Allerford to Porlock. 

Porlock Weir. From Porlock, head down to the stunning Porlock Weir with its beach, views, pub and hotel.

 

Exmoor National Park information and culture

Dunster National Park Visitor Centre. Discover Exmoor National Park in one of its visitor centres. Located by Dunster's main car park.

Coleridge Way. Runs between Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre on Exmoor and Coleridge Cottage on the edge of the Quantock Hills AONB.

Doone Valley. Walk to Doone Valley across Brendon Common from the car parking areas by the B3223 Simonsbath and Lynmouth Road.

 

Food and drink

Luttrell Arms Hotel. Hotel opposite Dunster Yarn Market on the high street in the heart of the village.

Dunster Castle Cafe. Cafe by the terraces of Dunster Castle. Great spot for a cream tea or slice of cake.

The Stags Head Inn. Inn on the A396 below Dunster Castle.

 

Wooded valleys

Experience the extraordinary wooded valley from the National Trust's Watersmeet down to Lynmouth and the Exmoor coast. The Coleridge Way runs along the north bank of the River Lyn. The Two Moors Way and Tarka Trail share a path high up on the southern lip of the valley.