If you are planning a cottage holiday that combines the dual delights of the West Somerset coast and the Exmoor National Park, then book a holiday cottage in Dunster. Stepping into the historic village of Dunster feels like travelling back in time, from medieval knights at the castle to the Victorian splendour of the steam railway. Set within beautiful Exmoor National Park, the village is the perfect base for mini break or longer discovering the beauty of the Moor. Here are five places and activities in and around Dunster not to miss:
Dunster – A spellbinding medieval village
Make the most of Dunster’s historical high street. In West Street you’ll find Chatelaine with quirky antiques, Made in Dunster with beautiful handmade gifts and the Chapel House Tea Rooms for great cakes. Carry on past the much-photographed Nunnery to the high street with its ancient Yarn Market and be fascinated by its history. Located in the centre of the village, here you can walk to Conygar tower, or mooch around the lovely independent shops, or stop for refreshments in one of the local cafes. For lunch, try the bar at the Luttrell Arms, and for a special dinner, we recommend the award-winning Reeves Restaurant.
Romp through the ages at Dunster Castle
Romp through interesting and gory ages of English history in this ancient castle. Today’s building combines medieval and Victorian construction. There are unique leather wall hangings, amazing carved staircase and spooky stories. If you’re interested in how Victorian staff lived and worked in a house of this scale, take the Attics and Basements tour. Outside, there’s year-round activities for families, pretty gardens to explore, and a working water mill.
Chalets and ice creams at Dunster beach
This is the seaside as it used to be - restored and cherished beach huts lining a pebble and sand beach. There are far reaching views, with the beachfront stretching down towards Minehead and Blue Anchor. It’s the perfect start (or end) to a lovely coastal walk – or just a great place to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of the seaside - with an ice-cream of course.
The beaten and unbeaten tracks of Minehead
There’s a change of pace in Minehead which is a vibrant town with a lovely long sandy beach a promenade offering a range of attractions, and an interesting harbour. For walkers, the SW Coastal Path starts in Minehead by the huge sculpture of a pair of hands holding a map. It’s a great place for local pubs, many of which are dog friendly. We recommend The Old Ship Aground at the end of the harbour. For tea and cake, try The Apple Tree Tea Rooms and the Creamery. For those dreaming of thatched cottages, find your way to St Michael’s Church and walk down the Church Steps – you really will be transported back in time in this beautiful and often-ignored part of the town.
Get lost in steam on the West Somerset Railway
Go on a steam adventure, and let the kids imagine they are on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express. The route stops on the way to Bishops Lydeard through beautiful countryside, past unspoilt villages and an expansive coastline, making it an exciting day trip for all ages. The railway runs every day May to September and regularly from February to November.
Where to Stay
There are some lovely holiday cottages in Dunster and nearby Dunster Beach. We recommend The Oval, one of those Somerset cottages that first saw life in the middle ages, but has been brought beautifully up to date with lots of luxurious facilities, without compromising on its traditional features. Sleeps up to six guests. Perfect for a family holiday or weekend break all year round. Email the owner.