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School visits to Dunster Castle

A group of people walking and laughing together at Lyme Park in Cheshire
Enjoy self-led education visits at Dunster Castle | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Bring your school for an awe-inspiring visit to Dunster Castle and Watermill. Explore the showrooms, take in the far-reaching views and seek out the hidden corners of the gardens, as you discover 1000 years of history and how the castle was transformed from fortress to family home.


With over 1000 years of history at Dunster Castle and Watermill, there is much to see on a visit with your class.

We have two trails available to follow, either with a volunteer assistant or with a self-led teacher resource.

Why castles were built – this outdoor trail explores the outside of the castle and upper gardens, highlighting castle defences and features dating from the 1200s. You'll also see the 700 year old gatehouse and pit dungeon.

Life inside a castle – this indoor trail takes you through the castle rooms as you discover what life might have been like for those that lived and worked in the castle in medieval times. You'll learn about feasting, entertainment and bathing.

We would recommend allowing 30-45 minutes for each trail.

What we offer

Volunteer Assistance

For no additional charge, your group can request to book a Volunteer Assistant for your visit. The Volunteer Assistant will meet you on arrival, deliver the tours enhanced with props, and be on hand to help with questions and information.

The Volunteer Assistant is subject to availability, so please let us know on booking if you would like one.


All groups must have an Education Group Access Pass or pay normal admission prices. Schools can benefit from an Educational Group Access Pass, which is an annual membership giving free access to the whole school group at National Trust properties.

Without an Education Group Access Pass, normal admission to the site applies. These costs are:

£8 per child

£16.00 per adult

On the day

What to wear

Please come prepared for walking around the grounds at the castle, which contains several steep slopes and uneven surfaces. We recommend comfortable walking shoes (no flip-flops or heels) and warm, waterproof clothing. There is no indoor space in case of wet weather so please dress appropriately.


  • Your coach will need to drop off at Dunster Steep village car park (free coach parking)
  • Your group will then need to follow either the permitted footpath sign though the National Trust parkland (gate by the side of the 'Rohan' building) or the pavement through the village. Please bear in mind that the parkland can be wet underfoot and uneven in places.
  • The walk will take you through the National Trust car park or the main village so please ensure you keep your group safe and be aware of moving vehicles.
  • Please approach the Visitor Reception Building to show your school's membership card. The team will then be able to help you get started on your visit and activities.
  • If you have booked for a volunteer assistant, this is where they will meet you.

Please be aware there are no minibus or coach parking spaces in the National Trust car park. All vehicles must park in Dunster Steep.

Outdoor trail

The outdoor trail will take you around the castle and upper gardens, where all pathways are gravel. Please be aware of other visitors and follow the route of your trail.

Indoor Trail

  • If you are completing the indoor trail inside the castle, you will need to enter in small groups. These groups should be a maximum of 10 people. Please stagger entry at 10-minute intervals.
  • Large bags and rucksacks are not allowed in the castle. We can arrange temporary bag storage if needed.
  • While inside the castle please be aware of other visitors. We do not tolerate anti-social behaviour that may damage the collection or disrespect the staff and visitors.
  • Food and drink is not allowed in the castle

Snacks and lunches

There is no indoor space for bag storage or lunches. Please ensure your group come prepared to carry their own bags. We recommend bringing a carrier bag to sit on if you plan to eat lunch outside as the grass can be damp.

River Gardens and Watermill

  • There is an unfenced, fast-flowing river through the river gardens. Please stick to paths at all times
  • The River Gardens are a relatively sheltered space suitable for an outdoor picnic. There is also a children's natural play area.
  • The Watermill is a small building with limited capacity. If you choose to go inside please be mindful of other visitors and, similarly to the castle, stagger small groups intermittently.

Shop and Cafe

  • The shop has a range of pocket money souvenir items. If your group wishes to include the shop as part of their visit, please stagger entry in small groups and note that children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Hot drinks and light snacks are available to buy in Tenants' Hall outside the front of the castle.

Risk Assessments

We have completed full risk assessments for self-led visits, including the available trails. However, it is the school's responsibility to complete their own, in advance of their visit. If your group has EGA, you are entitled to a free pre-visit.

Make a booking

You must book your learning visit at least two weeks in advance. Bookings are currently only available on Wednesdays and Thursdays during term time.

There is a limit of a maximum of 60 pupils per visit.

For further information or to make a booking please contact Kiera Collins on 01643 823041 or

A child holds a rifle at Dunster Castle, Somerset, while two other children watch
Have a go at holding a real rifle for yourself | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Arriving by coach

There are no coach parking facilities at the castle. Please be aware that we cannot take buses or oaches at the Stable Shop entrance at Castle Hill.

Group visits

Dunster is unable to take payment in advance for group bookings so all who visit will need to pay the entrance fee upon arrival. We ask that you email at least two weeks in advance to confirm the date of your visit and number of visitors.

Exterior view of Dunster Castle and Garden in Somerset

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