Minehead is one of the main holiday centres in West Somerset. It is a mix of seaside family holiday and a stepping off point for outdoor activities - the South West Coast Path and Exmoor National Park both start here. Minehead is the end point for the West Somerset Railway that provides a scenic journey from Taunton through the Quantock and Exmoor countryside. Minehead is most famous for being home to a Butlins holiday camp. This is still going strong today and has received millions of pounds worth of investment to modernise it. It continues to be popular today for both holidays and days out.
Minehead clusters around the Bay and spreads out up to the foot of the Exmoor Hills. It is a centre for hotel, guest house and B&B accommodation as well as camping and caravanning on its outskirts. Minehead has seen investment over the years to modernise the seafront and you can now easily walk along the wide promenade dotted with ice cream kiosks. There are some lovely views of Minehead and North Hill, the start of Exmoor, from the beach which is very popular on sunny days. It is said that these wooded hills feature as the Hermit's abode "in that wood which slopes down to the sea" in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Minehead is also the perfect stop off point for the South West Coast Path or for exploring Exmoor National Park. The Parade is the focal point of the town centre which is often brightened up with floral displays. There is a good choice of bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants here - some with pavement dining. There is also a good choice of shops in the town. Butlins provides a venue for family entertainment and the seafront has several amusement arcades and shops, mini-golf and family attractions. In the town is the Aquasplash Leisure Centre with its 25 metre pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.
The South West Coast Path is a 630 mile long trail around the South West of England. The Path goes through some of the country's most beautiful coastal scenery through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. The South West Coast Path starts in Minehead and is estimated to take 7-8 weeks if you want to do the whole route!
Minehead is on the West Somerset Railway line. This is the original broad gauge Great Western Railway line that runs from Taunton to Minehead between the Quantock Hills, Exmoor and the Brendon Hills. Historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons are used to travel this picturesque route and makes a fun day out if you're a steam engine enthusiast or if you just want to sit back and enjoy the views. Throughout the year the railway run special events such as Santa Specials, dining train journeys, murder mystery trains and jazz and swing trips. There's also the Brunel Buffet car at Minehead station. You can organise special functions of your own such as weddings and parties or you can book groups on the to the regular services.
The origin of the Minehead Hobby Horse Festival has been lost in history although it's thought to have been started to ward 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 continues today and can be traced back to at least 1792 when it was recorded in Dunster Castle's ledger. On 1 May Minehead is woken by the beating of a drum. The Hobby Horse dances its way around the town 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 have to escape before the horse turns his tail on them!