Walk in the footsteps of royalty in Dunster Castle gardens and wander through a mystical forest in Horner Wood
● The Orangery and Lemon House in Dunster Castle gardens
● Dunster Village with its Yarn Market and beautiful medieval high street
● Ancient moss-clad oak trees and fascinating path names in Horner Wood
A Castle with beautiful, magical gardens
Dunster village and its Castle grace postcards, tea towels, fudge boxes and calendars in the souvenir shops in the area. However, there’s nothing to beat the real thing. A morning walk in these most regal surrounds is perfectly complemented by a stroll through Horner Wood in the afternoon. You’ll find Dunster Castle just three miles south-east of Minehead, off A39, when you arrive. You will need to pay to enter the Castle unless you’re an National Trust member and then follow the signs for the Castle walk.
Explore beyond the castle walls
While many visitors head straight for the Castle itself, there is a splendour and beauty beyond its walls. Take a tour around the world just by walking through the beautifully kept gardens. Immerse yourself in Victorian grandeur. For instance, walk towards the truly majestic South Terrace, which was laid out in the 1820s. The planting reflects the Victorian style with spring bulbs, multi-coloured summer bedding and fantastic palms. On your walk make sure to stop by the Orangery. Kids will love the goldfish and newts in the Swan Pond. Similarly, continuing the citrus theme, a stroll through the Lemon House is one not to miss.
Stop for a bite to eat
Ambling in the footsteps of English royalty and gentry will no doubt make you peckish. As a result, we recommend you head into Dunster village for lunch or afternoon tea. There are plenty of pubs, tea rooms, coffee houses and award-winning restaurants to whet your appetite. For instance, don’t miss the Yarn Market, sitting at the top of the high street. This 17th Century timber octagonal building was once a busy market hall where wool traders sold their precious produce.
Discover Horner Wood
After you’ve enjoyed your trip to Dunster Castle and Village, we suggest you head on to explore the mystical Horner Wood. This is one of our favourite spots. Take the A39 from Minehead towards Porlock. Look out for a sign on the left to West Luccombe approximately five miles outside of Minehead. Follow the signs for the small National Trust pay and display car park (National Trust members park free). Horner Wood boasts ancient oak trees, lichen and wildlife – including 15 of the UK’s 17 species of bat. Indeed, it’s hard not to miss the lichen here clinging to wood, rock and brick – but we doubt you’ll count all 330 species!
Follow the quirky, creative paths
The three-mile walk can be steep and rocky at points. As such, take care and make sure to watch out for other road users. You’ll find a map in the car park and follow the acorns if you don’t have a copy of our Little Book of Walks. You can’t miss that the walk is full of interesting path names such as ‘Cat’s Scramble’ and ‘Granny’s Ride’, which originate from the Victorian Acland family. Although ‘Cat’ was Lady Acland’s pet pony, no one knows the origins of ‘Granny’s Ride’.
As you finish the walk, keep left when the pathway splits at a small bridge. After passing the scout camp to your right you’ll finish your walk at the Horner Tea Gardens. After that lovely stroll, you might fancy an afternoon cream tea here to finish your day of adventure.
There’s more information, maps and full directions in our Little Book of Walks, which is available in selected retailers in Exmoor, or find a copy in your Exmoor Character Cottage.