Walk - Minehead YHA - Dunster

4.3 miles (7.0 km)

Minehead Youth Hostel - TA24 6EW Minehead Youth Hostel

Moderate -

A circular walk with wonderful views across the Bristol Channel and Exmoor. The walk visits the popular village of Dunster with its medieval Castle and Yarn Market. The walk continues up and along the Macmillan Way West before leading back to the Youth hostel.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Yarn Market Hotel

Situated in the medieval village of Dunster within Exmoor National Park, we specialise in walking holidays and special interest breaks. Our independent 3* family run hotel prides itself on friendly service.

Exmoor Character Cottages

Four luxury self-catering cottages in the heart of Exmoor. VisitEngland rated as family, walkers and dog friendly. Gardens. 3 hot tubs, 3 woodburners. Parking.

YHA Minehead

YHA Hostel including private rooms and shared rooms

The Beach Hotel Minehead

The Beach Hotel is the perfect place for your South West Getaway, Apprentice run social enterprise, with a little help from us!
What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the main entrance of the Youth hostel, turn left and then take the path on Alcombe Common leading south eastwards over the moorland. At the first two junctions of paths keep going straight on.
  2. At the third junction fork slightly left toward the trees. Follow the path through the trees before coming out of the trees and continuing on the path keeping to the edge of the woodland.
  3. Carry on this path down into Dunster coming out by the cemetery.
  4. Pass the cemetery on the left before, again on the left, going down the steps into West Close.  Pass the school on the left and then emerge onto St George's Street. Turn right and follow St George's Street down to the main road.

Dunster is a lovely medieval village to explore. It was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Torre, meaning 'the rocky hill' from the British word Tor. The prefix 'Duns' may well be a reference to the Saxon Dunn, who held nearby land before 1066. By the 13th century, Dunster had become a centre for woollen and clothing production. A particular kind of kersey or broadcloth became known as 'Dunsters'. The market dates back to at least 1222.

George Luttrell, whose family owned the village from 1376 until 1950, built the Yarn Market around 1590. The octagonal structure has a central stone pier supporting a heavy timber framework. This carries a slate roof topped by a weather vane. One of the roof beams has a hole in it, a result of cannon fire in the Civil War.

Dunster Castle was the Luttrell family home for 600 years. It was besieged during the Civil War by the Roundheads. It is said that after 5 months the Royalists left the Castle in 1646 with drums beating and colours flying. The castle, now owned by the National Trust,  has wonderful views over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel. The terraced gardens include the National Collection of Strawberry Trees.

The prosperity of the village and its woollen industry declined in the eighteenth century due to mechanisation and competition from the North of England. With over 200 listed buildings, many houses are several centuries old.

  1. To return to the youth hostel go back up St George's Street, into West Close, past the school and up the steps again. This time turn left past the allotments and follow the path into the trees.
  2. This is the Macmillan Way West. Follow the signposted walk up through the trees of Grabbist Hill.
  3. At Blindman's Well there is an optional shortcut leading  back to the Youth Hostel. If you take the short cut leave the Macmillan Way West path by going due north and meeting up with the path you took at the beginning of the walk. Turn left on this path and make your way back to the Youth Hostel.

At Grabbist Hill the map marks a feature called Blindman's Well. It is a tiny spring, often no more than a puddle, but sometimes bursting into fuller life to form a stream leading down in the direction of Minehead.

Grabbist Hill runs from Dunster to Wootton Courtenay. Grabbist is thought to be a shortening of the word Grabhurst  the Grave Wood or the ‘wood by the earthworks’. This refers to the wood alongside the Giant's Chair fort. A dip in the hill is said to be the armchair of the Giant of Grabbist. According to legend, he was a very kindly Giant, who when waving his hands caused a breeze that dried the villagers' washing. In reality, the dip may well be the ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort.  Above Dunster, on the south facing steep end of the hill, ledges have been cut in the hillside where the Dunsters broadcloth was put out to dry in the sun. It was here that hymn, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ was composed by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848.

If you wish to continue walking keep on the Macmillan Way West for another half mile as the path is joined by a plantation of trees on your left.

The Macmillan Way West, a long distance path runs for 102 miles from Castle Cary in Somerset to Barnstaple in North Devon. At Holes Corner, near an entrance to forestry commission land, a seat erected by his friends in memory of Gary Draper, affords the opportunity to survey the view in comfort.

  1. A bit further on look out for a crossroad of paths. Leave the Macmillan Way West and turn right. The path heads towards some more trees. Keep going at the next junction and follow the path through the trees.
  2. The path bears right and eastwards and makes its way back to the Youth Hostel.

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