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Dunster Castle garden tour


Dramatically sited on top of a wooded hill, a castle has been here since at least Norman times.

Enjoy a walk through these stunning gardens

This varied walk takes in the impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower as well as the Castle, with panoramic views over the Bristol Channel, surrounding countryside and the moorland of Exmoor. Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder); Type of walk: 'Beautiful Views', Historical Footsteps'.

Dunster Castle's South Terrace in summer
Explore the gardens at Dunster Castle, Somerset Seamus Rogers


Map route for Dunster Castle garden tour
© Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey


Dunster Castle Ticket Office, grid ref: SS991435


From the Ticket Office (opposite the stables) make your way up the steep slope towards the Medieval Gatehouse. On reaching the gatehouse you'll see steps to your right (look out for the oubliette). Climb these steps which will bring you onto the Green Court and in front of the Castle. The building that you see today became a lavish country home during the 19th century, remodelled in 1868-72 by the famous Victorian architect Antony Salvin.

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With the house behind you, walk along the driveway ahead until you see the path on your left. Follow the path around to the right (away from the pet cemetery), which brings you to the Keep Garden. Continue along the path ahead, parallel with the low brick wall on your right. On your left is the lawn of the Keep Garden now used for croquet. During the 18th century the remains of the medieval upper ward were demolished and levelled to form the garden. Look carefully and the trees on your right will suddenly give way to reveal a view up to Exmoor framed by the valley. Also look out for the lazy, spiral flight of buzzards above you.

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On reaching the octagonal summer house (with the garden history display panels), bear to the right and follow the steps down. This brings you to a path intersection below the Keep Garden. Now go to your left and this will bring you toward the South Terrace with its sub-tropical planting. This warm area is a favourite place to see the humming bird hawk moth after a spell of warm southerly winds.


Keep on the path ahead as it slopes diagonally away towards Vine Walk, instead of following it along to the south facing side of the Castle. On your right you'll see fine views of the Bristol Channel and the Quantock Hills. Dunster Castle is famous for its bats, which live in various parts of the castle as well as in old trees. At night, they use paths like the Vine Walk to feed on insects which nectar on flowers.


Continue along until you reach the next pathway on your right. Follow this path as it descends towards the Castle access road and the sign posted as Watermill. Cross the access road ahead and continue along the path on the opposite side which brings you to the Pixie Well on your left. The path continues down towards the lush planting of the River Garden.

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The path then brings you onto the road that leads toward Lawns bridge. Turn right and follow the road ahead then take the next right, entering the Mill Walk through the pair of open iron gates. This is a fantastic place to see dragonflies like the metallic-blue banded demoiselle.


Follow the path ahead in the direction of the watermill and look out for Alys Luttrells unusual hankerchief tree on your left. The path runs parallel with the river and will eventually bring you to Lovers bridge on your left.


Follow the path over Lovers bridge (why not try out the stone seats in the parapets, made for two, from which the bridge takes its name).


Continue ahead along the path until it winds its way to Marshalls bridge. Cross over the bridge and the path brings you to the rustic log play area. Look out for the giant redwood trees. Follow the path from the rustic log play area until it brings you back toward the Mill Walk.


Bear right on the Mill Walk and continue toward the iron gates you entered through earlier. Then turn left and continue up the road, back towards the main drive that passes our visitor car park.


This road brings you to a small timber octagonal building on the left, with the visitor car park to the right. Turn left onto the main access drive and follow it back up toward the Castle. Where the access drive divides in two bear to the right and follow it back round to the 17th-century stables and the ticket office were you first started. Why not take time to explore the stables and visit the National Trust shop.

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Dunster Castle Ticket Office, grid ref: SS991435

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Dunster Castle garden tour


Having once been a fortified castle, the gardens feature many steep slopes, steps and paths with uneven and loose surfaces. Wear sensible and sturdy shoes. The river is unfenced, so please take care and supervise children at all times.

Keep an eye out for moving vehicles using the access drive to the Castle and outside our stables and toilets. Access to the Keep Garden by pushchair or wheelchair requires a strong companion.

Dunster Castle garden tour

Contact us

Dunster Castle garden tour

How to get here

Dunster Castle, Dunster, near Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6SL
By train

Dunster (West Somerset Railway), 1 mile (1.6km).

By road

In Dunster, 3 miles (4.8km) south-east of Minehead. National Trust car park approached direct from A39.

By bus

First 398, Tiverton to Minehead; First 28, Taunton to Minehead (passing Taunton), alight Dunster Steep, ½ mile (800m) walk to Dunster Castle.

Dunster Castle garden tour

Facilities and access

  • Shop, parking and toilets at Dunster Castle
  • Visit Dunster village for more shops and places to eat