Dunster Castle (Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49392213%40N00/3813699457)

Dunster Castle

Dunster village in Exmoor National Park sits at the foot of its castle. Historic Dunster Castle stands atop a tor, and is a National Trust tourist attraction overlooking the medieval village centre. Dunster's Yarn Market is another village monument - a Grade I listed octagonal shaped building with on-site working water mill, on-site tea rooms and beautiful gardens as well as a mill shop selling local produce. Dunster is also the location for one of the Exmoor National Park Visitor Centres. Beautiful Dunster Forest is home to fallow deer. It's a perfect place for walking and cycling, with open clearings and trails.

It's set in the grounds of the Dunster Estate, with the landmark Gallox Bridge and the impressive Cleeve Abbey. Barle Valley Safari Tours are available around the Dunster Estate and are perfect for photographers, and the Exmoor Llamas offer the chance to go llama trekking through beautiful grounds.Dunster has Walkers are Welcome status, and its surroundings are some of the most beautiful in the country. It's also home to the Dunster Dolls Museum with a collection of over 700 dolls on display. Browse Dunster accommodation online and book your perfect place to stay.

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle towers over the village from the hill above. In the past it was used by Saxons as a fortress to ward off Celtic and Viking raiders. The Normans occupied it for 300 years and the oldest feature that remains today is the thirteenth century gateway with its original iron-bound gates. The fourteenth century saw the ownership change to the Luttrells who ended up owning Dunster itself. You can walk round the castle and see it in its country house splendour with its antique furniture and family heirlooms. The King Charles Bedroom is said to be the most haunted room in the Castle and there's a mysterious secret passage leading off it that you can explore! You can also take guided tours around parts of the castle that aren't usually open to the public but you need to book these in advance.Outside Mediterranean-style terraces exhibit an enormous collection of plants from all over the world. There are several walks and trails taking you round the gardens and parkland. The gardens are also home to the National Collection of Arbutus - the Strawberry Tree - and you can take the Arbutus Walk to view them. The fruits are best seen in October-November.

Dunster Events and Festivals

Dunster is the focal point for Exmoor themed events throughout the year. The origin of the Minehead Hobby Horse Festival has been lost in history although it's thought to have started as warding off evil Vikings or is a commemoration of the wreck of a vessel at Minehead, or a phantom ship which entered the harbour without Captain or crew. Either way the tradition can be traced back to at least 1792 when it was recorded in Dunster Castle's ledger. The tradition continues today and on 1 May Minehead is woken by the beating of a drum. The Hobby Horse dances its way around Minehead and on up to Dunster Castle. As it makes its way back to Minehead it collects donations. The culmination of the festival is the "booty" on 3 May where tight fisted spectators can expect to be laid down in front of the horse and has to escape before the horse turns his tail on them!

Dunster by Candlelight is an annual winter festival that usually takes place on the first Friday and Saturday in December. The village is lit by candlelight only. A costumed procession weaves through the village lighting it by candle and lantern. All proceeds go to charity and many of Dunster's shops are also open for Christmas shopping. Parking is restricted during the evenings of the festival; park and ride services are available. Farmers markets are also popular throughout the year particularly the Festive Farmers Market held in December in the Castle grounds selling local Somerset produce.

Accommodation in Dunster

  • Dunster   (0.1 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £519
    Per week, seasonal
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 9 reviews
    Rating from 9 reviews
    Charming 17th Century thatched cottage in Dunster with three bedrooms, electric wood burner effect stove, small courtyard garden & well equipped kitchen. 3 dogs welcome.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 9 reviews
    Rating from 9 reviews
  • Dunster   (1.6 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Prices from
    £25
    Per person B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 5 reviews
    Rating from 5 reviews
    A small, family run B&B in Somerset located on a working farm in the Aville Valley. Ideal for visitors to Exmoor. Secure cycle storage and stabling for horses.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 5 reviews
    Rating from 5 reviews
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  • Exmoor National Park   (3.7 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £540
    Per week, seasonal
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 4 reviews
    Rating from 4 reviews
    Wonderful Grade II listed holiday cottage in Luxborough boasting rural views over Exmoor. 4 bedrooms, beautiful landscaped garden, parking & country-style kitchen. Dog friendly.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 4 reviews
    Rating from 4 reviews
  • Dunster   (0.1 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 2
    Prices from
    £371
    Per week, seasonal
     
    Charming thatched cottage for 2, in the traditional English village of Dunster. Easy access to Minehead, ground floor accommodation, secure parking, free WiFi, beautiful gardens.
     
  • Dunster   (0.0 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £425
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4
     
    Delightful character cottage in Dunster with feature fireplace, courtyard garden, washing machine, Freeview TV & nearby free parking. Older children accepted. 2 dogs at extra fee.
     
  • Wheddon Cross   (3.3 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £300
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4
     
    Delightful two bedroom farm holiday cottage in Exmoor National Park with south facing garden & wonderful views. Two dogs welcome at an extra charge. Min 3 night stay.
     
  • Dunster   (0.2 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £411
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 6
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 10 reviews
    Rating from 10 reviews
    Spacious period cottage in Dunster, just minutes from the High Street with a cosy enclosed courtyard, 3 bedrooms and parking for 3 cars. Family friendly. Sleeps 6.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 10 reviews
    Rating from 10 reviews
  • Dunster   (0.0 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £395
    Per week, seasonal
     
    Charming two bedroom period cottage in Dunster with original features, wood burner stove, courtyard garden & Wi-Fi service. Free road side parking. Pet friendly by arrangement.
     
  • Dunster   (0.2 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 2
    Prices from
    £329
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 2
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 13 reviews
    Rating from 13 reviews
    Delightful annexe retreat in Dunster village centre, with allocated parking, open plan living space and shared garden. Just 2 minutes' walk from the High Street. Sleeps 2.
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 13 reviews
    Rating from 13 reviews
  • Minehead   (1.2 miles from the centre of Dunster)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £397
    per week (seasonal)
     
    Grade II Listed thatched cottage in Alcombe on the edge of Minehead with WiFi, enclosed garden, patios and BBQ. 2 dogs welcome. Beach 1 mile. Perfect for walking & mountain biking.