Friday, 24 June 2011

Minehead grows on us!

When we first moved to West Somerset, the main attraction was Exmoor itself; we’d lived in cities all our lives and were ready for a change. Moving to a tiny village was certainly that! We enjoy village life: the sense of community, people looking out for one another, stopping for a chat with neighbours…

Minehead is our nearest biggish settlement; our first impressions were not that positive (OK to do a top-up shop, but rather resort-y). We now know that this was rather unfair. Scratch the surface and there’s a lot more to the place; you have to explore a bit to discover its character.

Yes, there are the chain shops you might expect to find in a town of this size, and the normal satellite retail estates with supermarkets and DIY-type stores. On the seafront (again, as you might expect) are amusement arcades, bucket-and-spade shops and all the ice cream, candy floss and chips you can eat.

Go further into town and you’ll also discover interesting, thriving independent shops among the usual suspects (if you’re staying at Exmoor House you can pick up a Minehead Shoppers Guide from us). On Friday mornings there’s a local farmer’s market.

Attractions and things to do include a long-established links golf course, the Regal Theatre and the West Somerset Railway. Butlins (you can’t miss it, with its millennium dome-type structure!) now has the only swimming pool in Minehead. Off The Avenue (the main street that goes down towards the sea) are the Blenheim Gardens, a pleasant place to mooch around, with a cafĂ© in summer.

Along the promenade towards the harbour, passing old coastguard’s and fisherman’s cottages, you’ll find the start of the South West Coast Path, marked by a sculpture of hands holding a map. Past the harbour is a small nature reserve, leading on to hill and coastal walks. Go up to the old town and North Hill and you’ll get another perspective, with stunning sea views, more pretty old houses and cottages and the famous Church Steps. While you’re there, do visit the church itself.

For me, the main shopping streets, the beach area, the harbour and the old town all have completely different atmospheres; to get a true picture of Minehead you need to take the time to visit them all.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Exmoor in July: National Park celebrations, Minehead Festival, Dunster Fair - and a special offer from Exmoor House

National Parks Week, 25 – 31 July

Exmoor is contributing a series of great events to National Parks Week. You can discover more about local history on a stroll around the fascinating village of Dunster or a tour of the water-powered sawmill at Simonsbath. Take a minibus tour to some of Exmoor’s archaeological sites or a guided walk to learn some of the secrets of the Old Mineral Line. Join an Exmoor ranger to search for red deer, or find out about the creatures lurking in seaside rockpools.

You can find more details at

Minehead and Exmoor Festival, 24 – 30 July

A varied programme of music by composers from Arensky to Verdi, at venues in Minehead, Dunster and Dulverton. The festival has been described as ‘an extraordinary achievement of wonderful music making’. Richard Dickins (from Imperial College and Royal College of Music) conducts.

The full programme is at

Dunster Country Fair, 27th July

Held on the lawns of Dunster Castle, this is West Somerset’s biggest country fair. With displays of falconry, stunt motorcycles, horse and dog shows, laser clay pigeon shooting and archery, plus a funfair and children’s entertainment, food and drink – and not forgetting some retail therapy, with trade stands and a craft tent - there’s something for everybody.

More information at

Exmoor House July offer
At Exmoor House we're offering weekend dinner, bed & breakfast breaks (3 or more nights) for the same price as our midweek specials; that's from £174 per person for a 3-night stay. This offer applies to the last weekend in June and every weekend in July. See our website at or call us on 01643 841432 for more information. Hope to see you soon!