For a avid hiker or a mere stroller, Exmoor is an absolutely beautiful place to spend some time. The steep climbs are all worth it when you get to the top and take in the view.
As you walk from Dunster to the moor, you will cross over Gallox Bridge which is a medieval packhorse bridge crossing over the River Avill. Both people and horses used this bridge for hundreds of years before Henry 8th came to the throne.
The village of Dunster, when the sea lapped at its edges in the 12th century, thrived as a trading port for beans, barley, wine and Welsh wool.
Unlucky, the ocean retreated, thus leaving Dunster sitting 2 miles inland and it turned to England's growing wool market and became a weaving centre. The old Yarn Market (rebuilt in the late 16th century) with its unusual-shaped roof still sits in the middle of the High Street. Once "Dunster" cloth was sold here, a product of the nearby mills.
The slate roofed corn mill on the River Avill is important. It is the spot that was listed as having a mill in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and was restored at the end of the 18th century to working order, then again in the 1970's. A small museum and old agricultural machinery inhabit the old stone mill, still producing goods for sale.
In 1090 there was a priory in Dunster, and buildings that were once part of the priory can be seen along Church Street-a priest's house from the 14th century and a circular medieval dovecote with 4-foot thick stone walls. Wagon roofs, a 16th century Perpendicular font and the tombs of the Luttrell family decorate the red sandstone Church of St. George, first built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 14th and 19th centuries. A 54 foot long carved rood screen, built to separate the monks of the priory from the parishioners-seems they couldn't agree on church affairs-may be one of the longest in the world.
The long, very wide High Street, suitable for turning a horse and cart, is graced with 17th through to 19th century buildings. The Luttrell Arms, with its hammerbeam roof, dates back to around 1500. The oversize fireplace sports a 17th century overmantel. Going in there is like heading into a timewarp though it's apparent that additions have been made to the original building. It was definitely one of the more atmospheric buildings we ate in during our England trip though the food was average, though filling.
There's a tile-hung 15th century nunnery at the narrow end of the street. Thatched cottages and a packhorse bridge complete the picture but the second shot is taken on the road to Selworthy. I just couldn't help myself. They were so cute I had to pull up and take a shot. I hope you like it.
25-33 High Street, Dunster, TA24 6SF, gb
This place is nice enough to drive through, but not worth going out of the way for. It is horribly expensive and very touristy. Souvenieers and food are a lot cheaper else where. There are far better and prettier villages to visit - try Porlock just a few miles further on.