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Somerset coastal walk: Dunster and Dunster beach

Dunster Beach Photo Isobel Pring
Dunster Beach Photo Isobel Pring

The hustle and bustle of summer is over and our county's beaches get that little bit wilder with big skies, windswept sand and shifting seas - it certainly is invigorating!

Where better to experience this than Dunster beach? Throw in old manor houses and riverside paths and the chance to visit Dunster’s eclectic mix of independent shops and cafes for a spot of last minute Christmas shopping and you have the perfect winter walk.

Dunster originated as 'Dunn’s Torre', a craggy fortification overlooking the Bristol Channel which William the Conqueror gave to the powerful de Mohun family in 1086. In 1375 the feudal barony was purchased by the Luttrell family and the castle, which had been converted into a luxury mansion in the 19th century, was gifted to the National Trust in 1976. Explore the secret walkways, gardens and dovecote...

Great British Life: Dunster Castle and Yarn Market Photo Isobel Pring Dunster Castle and Yarn Market Photo Isobel Pring

THE ROUTE

The walk begins at the Dunster Steep car park or the Dunster Beach car park, depending on whether you prefer to visit the village at the start or end of your walk or as a break in the middle.

1) Starting at the Dunster Steep car park, leave the car park by the entrance and turn right down the hill to the junction with the A39. Cross the road with care at the crossing and follow signs for the underpass under the A39.

2) Leaving the underpass bear right into Riverside Gardens and follow signs for the Riverside Jubilee Walk to Dunster Station and the beach. As you walk along the river bank it’s hard to imagine that medieval Dunster once had its own port until the River Avill silted up in the 17th century and Minehead Quay become the closest port to Dunster.

3) Stay on the Riverside Jubilee Walk and after crossing the footbridge, turn left and follow the path to the gate which leads onto Sea Lane. Turn right here and pass Haven Close on your right then cross the West Somerset Railway line and continue to the beach car park.

4) Enter the car park with the first of two second world war pillboxes in front of you and turn left, walking in a westerly direction along the grass at the edge of the beach until you reach a gap in the fence (do not take the drive leading to the chalets). From here you walk along the coast past Dunster’s picturesque beach chalets, now hunkered down for the winter with buckets and spades packed away and deck chairs and blankets replacing them.

5) Follow the Coast Path signs and waymarks keeping closer to the beach than the chalets. After about 20 minutes you reach another gap in the fence and a second pillbox ahead of you. Turn left and leave the Coast Path following the footpath signs for Dunster. Continue inland on this path and over the footbridge until you come to a metal gate. Turn left onto the track and follow it until you reach a series of gates, which take you through Lower Marsh Farm. Keep on the enclosed path through the farm until you reach another track passing The Old Manor on your right. The estate of Dunster belonged to the de Mohun family and this beautiful old manor was most likely that of one of their retained knights.

6) The track becomes a road here and crosses the West Somerset Railway line. Take some time to explore Dunster Station on your left. Leaving the station, continue along Station Road, passing Sea Lane on your left, until it becomes Marsh Street. Stay on Marsh Street and bear left at Dunster Court passing the old Police Station and following signs for the underpass leading to Dunster. Go through the underpass and follow signs to Dunster, to return to the car park.

Great British Life: Map by Somerset Council Map by Somerset Council

COMPASS POINTS

Map: OS Explorer OL9: Exmoor

Refreshments: The Kiosk on the beach by the entrance to Dunster Beach Chalets and a host of small tea shops and cafes in Dunster village with their own mix of snacks, cream teas and cakes as well as restaurants if you prefer something more substantial after your walk.

Practicalities: The route is about 3.5 miles (5.5km) and takes about 2.5 hours. The ground is mostly flat with a gentle slope in and out of the village and has gates but no stiles



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