Skip to content

Visiting Dunster Castle and Watermill with your dog

A brown and white curly-haired dog sits on grass with some autumn leaves, with the blue jacket of its owner in the foreground
A dog with its owner | © National Trust Images / James Dobson

Dogs are welcome throughout the year at Dunster Castle and Watermill, and there are some great spots to stretch those legs, whether you have two or four. Take a walk around the parkland that follows the River Avill, or into the wider estate.

Our pawprint rating system

We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged-friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.

Dunster Castle is a two pawprint rated place.

These places have water bowls, dog bins and dog-friendly walks. You’ll be able to take your dog into some areas, but not everywhere. If there’s a food and beverage outlet, you can have a cup of tea with them, probably outside. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Where can my dog go?

Dogs on leads are allowed everywhere except inside the castle. Explore one or all the different areas during your walk.

Why not visit the less formal parkland, a beautiful place to spot wildlife including otters and kingfishers during your stroll? You can take your walk into the garden or join the path which leads to the wider estate and the deer park. A circular stroll will take you through the parkland following the River Avill.

The River Garden, watermill and South Terrace

Home to giant redwoods, giant rhubarb and a handkerchief tree, the River Garden is also home to the watermill which is also dog-friendly. When open, you’ll be able to see the wheels turning and possibly milling in progress.

Visit the South Terrace with your four-legged friend, a little piece of the Mediterranean dropped into Somerset. You may spot a herd of Exmoor ponies on the surrounding hills.

The Keep and Victorian reservoir

The original location of the motte castle, the Keep was levelled out in the 18th century to create a bowling green. Winding your way up the hill there are plenty of different paths to explore, some taking you to the Victorian reservoir, another to Aunt May's Garden.

A walk around its perimeter gives views out across the countryside and on a cloudless day Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, can be spotted.

A dog sits patiently by his owners who are sat on a big yellow bench at the Top of the Gorge Festival 2019 at Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
A dog waiting with its owners | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Where can't my dog go?

The castle itself and lawned areas of the garden, otherwise adventure awaits everywhere else!

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one

Facilities available for my dog

You can find dog bins across the site and noted on the welcome map. There are water bowls found by the Visitor Reception, Ticket Office and on the South Terrace.

Exterior view of Dunster Castle and Garden in Somerset

Discover more at Dunster Castle and Watermill

Find out when Dunster Castle and Watermill is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

Visitor walking the 'green corridor' at Bathampton Meadows, Somerset

Dog-friendly places to visit 

Discover the best places for a dog walk, from coastal adventures and dramatic mountains to more leisurely walks near you. Plus find information on dog-friendly cafés and read our Canine Code.

Visitors on a walk with their dog in Heddon Valley, Devon

Visiting National Trust places with your dog 

If you’re bringing your dog to the places we care for, here’s information on the Canine Code and pawprint rating system to plan your visit.

A man sitting at a cafe table with two large dogs

Best walks with dog-friendly cafés 

After a good dog walk in the fresh air, find a place to sit and relax with your dog in a dog-friendly café.

Dog enjoying a Forthglade treat at Attingham Park, Shropshire

How we're working with Forthglade for dog-friendly visits 

We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade to create the Dogs Welcome project, helping you and your dog to get the most out of the places in our care.

A family of two adults and two small children (with their backs to the camera) in winter clothing walking along a path flanked by an array of plants and trees with brown and green foliage

Visiting the garden at Dunster Castle and Watermill 

Explore the highlights of the garden at Dunster Castle, which takes you around the world and through four different microclimates

Visitors using eco cups for hot drinks at Dunster Castle, Somerset

Eating and shopping at Dunster Castle and Watermill 

There are several places to enjoy a bite to eat and a drink during your visit to Dunster Castle and Watermill. Find out more about what each outlet has to offer.

A view of Dunster Castle through the trees above the castle, Somerset

History of Dunster Castle 

Discover a thousand years of history at Dunster Castle. Follow its journey from a Middle Ages fortress to a Victorian family home.

Dog walking on the Holnicote Estate, Somerset

Dog-friendly places in Somerset 

Your dog will enjoy a variety of wide open countryside, an expansive beach and leafy wooded trails in Somerset. Find out where to go and what to expect on your visit.