Porlock to Minehead Back to Somerset Way index Dunster to Bicknoller

The Walk

At just four miles long this walk from Minehead to Dunster is the shortest section of the End-to-End Walk meriting its own web page, just beating the last section of the White Peak Way (Castleton to Edale) and the Pen-y-Ghent section of the Pennine Way. Those two walks are short because special situations are involved, and that is also the case here. Dunster, barely two miles from Minehead by road, is a show village of chocolate box prettiness and needs a half day visit to do it justice.

Our route between Minehead and Dunster takes a leisurely path over an outlying ridge of Exmoor in preference to the rather dull coast path or the even duller road walk, both of which could be considered as alternatives for the return trip if you're staying in Minehead.

Map:  1:25000 OS Outdoor Leisure 9 (Exmoor)

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Minehead town centre;  Minehead high street

Minehead high street

    First Taunton Service 28, Minehead - Dunster - Bicknoller - Taunton (Mon-Sat)
    First Taunton Service 928, Minehead - Dunster - Bicknoller - Taunton (Sun / Bank Holidays)
    First Devon Service 398, Tiverton - Dulverton - Exford - Dunster - Minehead (Mon - Sat)
    First Barnstaple Service 398, Ilfracombe - Lynton - Porlock - Minehead
    First Bridgewater Service 911/915/927, Minehead - Watchet - Bridgewater - Burnham-on-Sea (Suns)

The route of the Somerset Way begins at the northeast end of Minehead's main street, the seafront end, just outside the terminus of the Somerset steam railway. Go along the main street initially, all the way to the main crossroads and the A39. There's a little square here - go across, and find the alley between the bank and the pub. At the end of this alley is Bampton St - walk along here as far as Poundfield Road. Turn left into this road. About half way down on the right is a little footpath between houses, Hopcott Path, marked by a "No Cycling" sign. Follow this to its far end in a residential crescent. At the end of the crescent, across the main road, is Lower Hopcott.

The route through Minehead's suburban streets to Hopcott


Hopcott track

The route is now very simple - Cross the road and follow the side road ahead of you, past both Lower Hopcott and Higher Hopcott. The road end at a car park. Continue into the woods, along a forest track, climbing gradually.

The Hopcott track

path junction

Path junction at clearing;  another woodland track

There is one major path junction, at a clearing; about 600m south of Higher Hopcott the correct path goes half right, tending south-southeast. Thence continue through the wood, still climbing, for a further 700m to gain the main ridge path, a wide forest ride crossing your track east-west. There is a clearing and a picnic table here.

reaching the main ridge path

path junction sign

Ridge path;  view of Minehead from the ridge

Knowle Hill

ridge track and a view of Minehead

Turn left onto the main track, which heads generally east for some 3km and runs almost directly to Dunster. Initially, an old stone wall runs through the trees to your right. You're on Knowle Hill, an offshoot of Exmoor, and the heathland scenery is typical.

gorse by the path

Shortly after you leave the path junction the track splits into two, running either side of the old stone wall. The track to the right (south) of the wall appears to be used extensively by horse riders, so keep to the left (north) side. After about 900m the trees fall away to the left (north), leaving you with a view towards Minehead and over the Bristol Channel to Wales across a scrubby heathland slope. Watch for a fork in the path, where you should keep to the ridge by going right.

Track on Knowle Hill;  Minehead; Dunster

The ridge path now enjoys extensive views over to Minehead and the Bristol Channel, and of the Brendon Hills to the south. Once you approach the end of the ridge the path enters an area of woodland. Watch for another fork, at which you go left.

Woodland path down to Dunster

The path now drops off the hill towards Dunster, which is visible below. You will pass the curiosity of St Leonard's Well, a little stone chamber with a door. Follow the path, off the hill and between pastures, to reach the outskirts of Dunster itself.

St Leonard's WellPath to Dunster

Approaching Dunster



Dunster is a show village. Said by some guidebooks to be the most beautiful village on Exmoor (which is stretching it a bit because Dunster actually lies off the edge of the moor), it is almost a film-set version of Olde England and as a bonus it is set between two prominent hillocks - one dominated by the 250-year old Conygar Tower, a daymark for shipping, the other crowned by Dunster Castle, said to be a thousand years old. With its steep and wide main market street, its hotchpotch of historical architecture, and its back lanes and picturesque gardens, Dunster oozes charm and is well worth a half-day visit.


Dunster, and its back streets

Dunster's castle is still a private residence but is partly open to the public. Don't miss the gardens and the less formal surrounding parklands and woods, which feature a couple of absolutely delightful river bridges. The "back way" into the castle grounds is by the old village mill, which has been restored and is itself open to the public.

Dunster Castle and grounds

Conygar Tower

    First Taunton Service 28, Minehead - Dunster - Bicknoller - Taunton (Mon-Sat)
    First Taunton Service 928, Minehead - Dunster - Bicknoller - Taunton (Sun / Bank Holidays)
    First Devon Service 398, Tiverton - Dulverton - Exford - Dunster - Minehead (Mon - Sat)

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Minehead to Dunster 182 images, 276M of data, £4.50.

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Porlock to Minehead Back to Somerset Way index Dunster to Bicknoller

This page last updated 3rd January 2004