From days at the beach to weeks walking the Cornish coast; subtropical castle gardens to the neverending Exmoor National Park, there are some stunning days out for you to choose from during your stay in Minehead. We’ve gathered together some of our favourites to help you decide what you want to do.
Activities in Minehead
Whether it’s winter walks or soaking up the summer rays, when the sun is shining you can’t go wrong with a day at Minehead Beach. This long, flat, north-facing beach – also known as The Strand – is a mix of sand, shingle and rock pools, providing the perfect place to kill some time. It’s overlooked by Butlins and can get very busy during the holiday season. Whether you want to get your toes beneath the sand, or you’d simply rather walk along the promenade, stretch your legs and soak up the views of this beautiful beach.
West Somerset Railway
South West Coast Path
West Somerset Railway
At more than twenty miles long, the West Somerset Railway is the longest heritage railway in the country and without doubt one of the top attractions in Minehead. It dates back to the 1860s when it was owned and operated by British Rail taking tourists on a trip along the Somerset Coast to its terminus at Taunton. For nearly fifty years it has been operating as a heritage line owned by the council with historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons stopping off at ten unique stations along its 22-mile route. Take a trip back in time and step aboard the West Somerset Railways fascinating trains and get a unique perspective of the Somerset coast and countryside aboard this choo-chooing piece of history.
While you’re exploring the town, set some time aside for a visit to Minehead Harbour. This corner of Somerset has been home to a harbour ever since the 1300s. The town’s heritage is intertwined with this stretch of the seafront. Every year in July it plays host to the Minehead Harbour Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors with fireworks, the largest RNLI raft race in the country, live music, street eats and more.
The National Trust-owned Dunster Castle is in the nearby village of Dunster, just a five-minute drive from our Minehead hotel. This motte and bailey castle is a stunning country home with a rich history dating back to the 11th century, which the National Trust do a fantastic job of bringing to life. While very little of the medieval castle still stands today, the 17th-century manor house takes centre stage as the attraction’s main event. Inside, you’ll find fantastically decorated rooms, a grand piano owned by world-renowned composer Vivian Ellis, as well as a fine collection of art including a series of leather tapestries portraying Antony and Cleopatra.
As well as being an excellent country house, Dunster Castle is also home to some small but fantastic gardens as well as a fully-working water mill. The gardens have been laid out over more than a hundred years and span four microclimates. The South Terrace commands views across the Bristol Channel and features Victorian-style flower beds as well as the Camellia House orangery, a swan pond, and the Lemon House. The River Garden is a wooded area with magnolia trees, giant rhubarb and a rare Australian Handkerchief tree. The Yew Bank his worth a visit alone for its beautiful yew groves. Last of all, The Keep is the highest point of Dunster and has been transformed into a pristine bowling green.
South West Coast Path
Minehead marks the beginning of the South West Coast Path, the longest walking-route in the UK. It stretches on for 630 miles of coastline and will take you all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset. As it rises and falls with every river, it’s been worked out that if you walk the full length of the South West Coast Path you’ll have climbed more than 35,000 metres – or Mount Everest nearly four times. It passes through two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Jurassic Coast, and is widely seen as one of the best walks in the world. It was originally a lighthouse-to-lighthouse route coastguards walked while patrolling the south west’s bays and coves for smugglers. You’d do well to complete the path, but if you fancy a taste then follow the path up to Lynch and Kitnors Tea Room, one of our favourite places to eat in Minehead.
Exmoor National Park
While we’re talking about walking, we need to address the elephant in the room; right on Minehead’s doorstep is Exmoor National Park. For starters, it’s Europe’s first dark sky reserve, so it’s perfect for stargazers. Or, visit during the day like a regular person and you’ll be greeted with some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. There’s mile upon mile of valleys, woodland, sea cliffs, rivers and waterfalls with walking trails, cycling routes, horse riding and hiking tours available to tie everything together. Birdwatchers particularly enjoy Exmoor for its winged wonders, which range from mighty peregrine falcons to diminutive Dartford warblers.