Somerset Towns and Villages
There are delights at every turn in Dunster, whether it be the castle on the hill with its magnificent stables or the packhorse bridge and working watermill. It is hardly surprising that in one of the most intact medieval villages in Britain there is so much to explore and hidden gems around every corner such as the Prior’s Dovecote, Tithe Barn and a church containing the longest Rood screen in the country. Set amid lush rolling fields that slope towards the sea, Dunster boasts picture-perfect houses, beaches, an ancient hilltop castle, and a quintessentially Somerset high street.
Dunster’s beautiful medieval village is incredibly preserved, with a rich history, hundreds of stunning listed buildings and dramatic views. The National Trust’s Dunster Castle proudly sits in the sweeping hills of nearby Exmoor National Park, where you’ll catch incredible views stretching over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel. This ancient feudal stronghold was developed into an opulent country home for the Luttrell family in the 19th century, and the castle grounds include the thoughtfully-designed subtropical gardens and the fully-restored Dunster Working Watermill, which sits alongside the River Avill.
The castle overlooks the village below, where there’s a plethora of tea rooms, local gift shops, excellent restaurants and places to stay. On the high street you’ll find the 17th-century Yarn Market, which was essential for the village’s production and trade of wool and cloth.
A short walk from the high street is the idyllic Gallox Bridge, originally used by packhorses to transport goods to the market. Nearby you’ll find the Grade II listed Dovecote, a nesting house for domestic pigeons. This ancient monument was a relic from the Benedictine Dunster Priory along with the Tithe Barn and the Priory Church of St George.
One of the most atmospheric ways to experience the medieval village is at the Dunster by Candlelight Festival. Taking place on the first Friday and Saturday of December, lanterns are lit throughout the village replacing the electric street lamps whilst the cobbled streets come alive with choirs, bell ringers and street entertainers.
Dunster beach is the perfect spot for a picnic and, much like the rest of the surrounding area, it remains totally unspoilt and natural. Admire the beach and village from the many different walking routes, or take in the Somerset countryside and coast as you ride on the West Somerset Railway, England’s longest heritage line, which leaves from the station just outside Dunster village.
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