Monday, 11 July 2011

Dunster: more than tea and fudge

The other week I talked about Minehead; this time I’m going to focus on Dunster, about six miles down the road from Wheddon Cross. If you’re staying with us, there’s a bus service several times a day and the bus stop is only a few yards away, so you don’t need to take the car.

Dunster deserves a good mooch around. It does indeed have many teashops (and several pubs), as well as shops selling fudge, chocolate, jewellery, clothes, books, crafts and souvenirs. We’ve had some great lunches in Dunster and have bought plenty of Christmas and birthday presents here, too.

Did I mention chocolate? If you’re a chocoholic, you need to visit The Chocolate House. More details at - and still on a confectionery theme: there’s a handily-placed weighing machine outside the fudge shop (check your weight before and after you’ve eaten the fudge?).

As with Minehead, though, look beyond the shops and eating places, and there’s much else to discover. The main streets of the village can get quite crowded with both people and traffic, but go just a little further and you’ll get an entirely different perspective and a real sense of the place’s history. A big attraction is of course the National Trust-owned castle - - perched above the village and looking out towards the coast. I recommend taking the time to look round the gardens as well as the castle itself. If you feel like a slightly longer walk, there’s a path to the watermill, with the old packhorse bridge (Gallox Bridge) and some real chocolate-box cottages nearby.

Another footpath near Gallox Bridge will take you round the back of the castle, through fields behind the High Street, to Dunster Steep (where you’ll find the Exmoor National Park information office and the main car park). Dunster’s historic Yarn Market is on the High Street at this end of the village; you can’t miss it.

With the Yarn Market Hotel on your left and the Luttrell Arms on your right, take the narrow street that leads up to The Ball (some handsome houses, and photo-perfect views of the village and castle) then from The Ball turn left along Priory Green. This will bring you to the Tithe Barn, recently restored and now used for community events, and the ancient dovecote. The church has plenty of interest, and there’s also a series of walled gardens, providing a peaceful respite.

Now, how about a cup of tea?