Minehead is where Exmoor meets the sea and sits on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. Ideal for lovers of the coast and countryside, the town offers traditional seaside fun with its promenade and mile-long sand and pebble beach, and wonderful views of the Bristol Channel.
The South West Coast Path begins in Minehead, on the quayside, before winding its way around 630 miles of glorious coastline. North Hill, where Exmoor National Park begins, dominates the town and its green slopes can be seen for miles around. It is just a short walk from the centre of town so without venturing far you can enjoy the countryside and even spot red deer and Exmoor ponies.
Popular local activities include fishing trips, boat trips from the harbour to the unspoilt Lundy Island, a visit to the nearby medieval village of Dunster for its ancient castle, stunning gardens and traditional tea rooms, and day trips to the pretty coastal harbour towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. Meanwhile,a day pass for nearby Butlins will keep the kids entertained on days when the beach doesn’t appeal.
A holiday cottage in Minehead is the perfect base for those looking for a coastal holiday with a healthy dose of moorland life just a stone's throw away.
The West Somerset Railway is a historic rail network in Somerset and Dorset, that has given great pleasure to visitors over the last century. It is the longest heritage steam railway in England. Travel along the line and look out at the inspiring countryside, take in the history and seasonal events. Keep an eye on website timetable for more information.
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On a wooded hill with an impressive medieval gatehouse, the National Trust’s Dunster Castle is on a site that predates the Norman era. It has spectacular views towards the Bristol channel, the Quantock hills and the moors of Exmoor. Tours are available, there’s a shop, paid parking and Dunster village is filled with lovely places to eat.
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A great all weather attraction in beautiful Exmoor countryside where you can learn to fly owls and hawks yourself on a Birds of Prey Flying Experience, ride horses, watch the public flying displays and enjoy some delicious food in the tea room. For damper days there is an indoor flying barn and picnic area.
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A 12,000-acre National Trust property, Holnicote Estate is part of Exmoor National Park, made up of rugged moorland, shingle beaches, ancient woodland and charming thatched villages. Walk, cycle and horse ride as far as the eye can see, see red deer, Exmoor ponies, bats and rare butterflies as you go. There are picnic tables, footpaths and toilets as well as pay and display parking.
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A friendly family run café serving well-presented light lunches, Sunday Roasts, indulgent cream teas and an array of delicious home-made cakes. Eat in the immaculate restaurant or outside in the quirky garden. Vegetarian and gluten free diets catered for.
Cobblestones 24 High St, Dunster, Minehead TA24 6SG (T: 01643 821595)
Whether you choose to dine in the beamed restaurant or outside in the pretty walled garden, you’re in for a treat at this fine dining restaurant in the heart of the medieval village of Dunster. From the warm welcome you receive front of house, to the fine ingredients used and attention to detail in the kitchen, Reeves is worthy of its glowing newspaper reviews.
Reeves 20-22 High St, Dunster, Minehead TA24 6SG (T: 01643 821414)
A pretty thatched 13th century coaching inn with roaring log fires in winter and a large outdoor seating area and children’s play area for the summer months. Homemade, unpretentious food making use of the excellent local Exmoor produce is served daily in the restaurant and bar. Dog friendly with plenty of parking.
The Ship Inn Porlock, Minehead TA24 8QD (T: 01643 862507)
Serving over 30 draught ciders and winner of Camra Cider Pub of the Year for the last three years along with a collection of other awards, Pebbles Tavern is a cider drinker’s idea of heaven. Regular music nights including Acoustic and Sea Shanty nights add to the West Country charm.
Pebbles Tavern 24 Market St, Watchet TA23 0AN (T: 01984 634737)
Just 100 yards from Watchet’s pretty marina, The Bell Inn is a friendly pub full of interesting historical features and today serves a good collection of local ales and ciders along with an extensive menu of freshly prepared pub classics.
The Bell Inn 3 Market St, Watchet TA23 0AN (T: 01984 631279)
Perpetually featured amongst the best beaches in the area, Minehead Beach is in one of Somerset’s busiest holiday areas. Divided into two sections, The Strand is a wide sand and shingle beach that faces North-to-North West, it looks out across the Bristol Channel towards Wales. Terminus meanwhile is the north-facing part that was almost completely washed away in the early ‘90s. After a multimillion pound project, a sea wall was completed. Today it’s an excellent spot for swimming, kite-surfing and windsurfing. Dog restrictions apply in the summer and there are cafes, restaurants, toilets and shops all close by.
Long sand and shingle beaches peppered with alabaster rocks that are perfect for finding fossils, Blue Anchor Bay and Dunster Beach in Somerset are adjacent to one another, and are beautiful places to while away the afternoon, whatever time of the year. Dogs are allowed on the beaches all year round, which is a novelty, there are toilets close by, and a pub as well for those lazy lunches after a morning’s stroll. The West Somerset Railway comes close to the beach, adding an extra layer of interest, and there’s plenty of parking close to both of them as well, which is always a blessing. The beaches are tidal and can get a little muddy at low tide, so careful not to slip and don’t get caught out when the water comes in!
After 30 miles of Exmoor coastline that’s predominantly cliffs, at Porlock the land flattens out and a unique mile long shingle ridge and an inland salt marsh have formed. It’s a short walk from there to the centre of Porlock, where there are lots of marked footpaths to explore. Porlock Weir Beach itself is a pebble beach that welcomes dogs all year round. It’s a prime spot for swimming, fishing, surfing and sailing, and there are cafes, restaurants, toilets, pubs and shops close by to explore. There is pay and display parking close to the beach, so don’t forget your change when you visit, and you will be pleased to know that the water quality is reputedly excellent.
A shingle beach that arcs out into the sea from Lynton, Lynmouth Beach is a popular spot for surfing, but there’s no lifeguard cover so be careful when you go! The area is known for its excellent scenery and pleasant walking along the sea front and along the banks of the Lyn River which flows between the two towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. There is also a cliff railway from Lynton down to the sea front. At Lynton there is a smaller beach with rocks at low tide, while Lynmouth Beach is longer and sandier. Lynmouth has level access all the way along, and there are several car parks in the town as well as road parking by the river and beach. Toilets, cafes and shops are close by, but there aren’t any activities available, it’s all about enjoying the scenery!
On the South West Coast Path, Wringcliff Beach is within walking distance of the little town of Lynton and a number of secluded bays along the coastline. The beach itself is a secluded bay surrounded by high cliffs with a steep access path, making it a tricky one to visit if you have small children with you. Of course, because it’s a little difficult to get to, it’s also wonderfully peaceful with incredible views to enjoy. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year around and it’s perfect for adventurous walkers. There’s parking is in the valley of the rocks which is accessed and signposted through Lynton, but once you’re there it’s not that easy to reach toilets and restaurants, to if the weather permits, take a picnic and enjoy the day!