Things to do in Dunster and Exmoor
Located in the heart of Exmoor, the market town of Dunster has plenty to offer everyone. From its picturesque castle to its sleepy village and surrounding countryside, it's hard not to fall in love with this scenic spot.
Here are the best things to do in Dunster and Exmoor that you won't want to miss out on! All are within easy reach of our delightful Doniford Bay Holiday Park.
1. Dunster Castle and Watermill
Exploring Dunster Castle is an absolute must. It was built sometime between the 11th and 15th centuries and has been undergoing a massive renovation in stages since 1996. Alongside the castle ruins, there is a working watermill with a lovely garden to explore. Built on the steep slope of Somerset's Blackdown Hills, the dramatic views are worth taking in.
Dunster House provides an intimate glimpse into the life lived by the nobility that resided within its walls. You can stroll through the beautiful gardens or take part in one of the National Trust property's many tours. It is also home to The Dunster Textile Archive Centre, which houses over 300 years' worth of weaving and spinning equipment, including some from as far back as 1834.
An hour's drive away, you will find Exmoor National Park - England's largest national park - where you can roam freely around some incredible landscapes.
2. Dunster Exmoor National Park Centre
Dunster's National Park Centre is an excellent intro to the area's varied landscape, geology, flora and fauna. It also has a small exhibition centre which details the creation of the National Park. There’s plenty of room to relax, and it’s accessible for those with disabilities.
Stretching out behind the centre are unspoilt wetlands, offering a variety of walking routes ranging from three to 10 miles, as well as birdwatching and fishing opportunities.
3. Dunster Museum and Dolls Collection
Dunster Museum was created as a collaboration between English Heritage and The National Trust to demonstrate life in the village during Tudor and Victorian times. It's home to one of the most extensive collections of dolls' houses in England with 17th-century figures, traditional farm implements and dolls' toys which once belonged to Sir Thomas Deane-Tanner who donated his extensive collection. Visitors can explore four historic cottages, two workshops and a schoolroom furnished with period furniture.
The museum's visitor facilities include a café serving drinks, snacks and sandwiches, as well as toilets for disabled visitors. Guided tours are available on request. Entry is free for all members of English Heritage or National Trust, but donations are always welcome!
4. Dunster Butter Cross
If you love history, are into butter or enjoy seeing things from different angles, then make a stop at the Dunster Butter Cross. The monument was built in the 16th century for the best of reasons: to keep everyone well stocked with butter on market day.
Today, it's a tourist attraction that's one of the best things to do in Dunster and Exmoor. Visitors can see the cross from all four directions as it sits on a small hill that's surrounded by green fields. There are many steps leading up to the top of the hill, but some visitors prefer to take a shortcut through one of the nearby fields.
5. Conygar Tower
One of the best places for views in the whole country is Conygar Tower. This tower was originally built as a 12th-century keep but has been extensively altered over the centuries. It stands 18 metres high and represents medieval archaeology that can be explored today.
The sheer height of this turret offers beautiful views across rivers, fields, woods, hills and valleys towards far-off mountains, an iconic symbol of Somerset.
6. Dunster Yarn Market
In the heart of medieval England lies a hub for historical textiles. The beautiful Dunster Yarn Market was once the site of an impressive wool market, supplying high-quality raw materials to local craftsmen. Today, the old buildings house a range of independent shops selling contemporary crafts from around the world.
Visitors can watch experts at work spinning yarn on ancient machines, explore craft galleries and even purchase their own handmade yarn as a souvenir! There are also tearooms and cafés serving delicious homemade fare. So, if you're looking for something off the beaten track, head to this historic textile hub.
7. Dunster Gallox Bridge
Gallox Bridge is one of the many examples of why the rural West Country was favoured by industrialists at the end of the 18th century.
Made with handmade mortise-and-tenon joints, it dates from 1798, but it is thought that its predecessor could have been as old as 1698. It is still used today for pedestrians and cyclists. It crosses a large stream, River Avill, which feeds into the River Avill, which then feeds into the Bristol Channel. There are other bridges along the river, including the Lover's Bridge which is also worth exploring.