A former motte and bailey castle, now a stunning country house run by the National Trust. It has magnificent gardens and wonderful, perched on the top of a Tor overlooking the beautiful and picturesque village of Dunster (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle ).
A water-powered funicular, built in 1887, linking the twin towns. A real thrill for adults and children. Lovely, tiny, café at the top (www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk).
This old Cistercian abbey, managed now by English Heritage, is said to have the finest cloister building in England. The abbey, in Washford, provides a wonderful glimpse of monastic life 800 years ago. A great day out (www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/cleeve-abbey).
This is a gem. It is stuffed with the treasures of one family who lived there for over 500 years. Lovely walks with over 20 miles of footpaths (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court).
A great outdoor activity centre with one of the finest collections of flown owls, hawks and eagles who put on spectacular shows each day. Also available is horse riding on Exmoor, alpaca walks. Tea rooms and gardens (www.exmoorfalconry.co.uk).
The Waverley is the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer. For part of the year Waverley Excursions run trips in the Bristol Channel. From Rainsbury House, the nearest place to jump aboard is at Minehead. The trip offers a stunning view of the North Devon coast at close quarters. (www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk).
A stunning day out. A visual and geological delight, complete with ferel goats. (www.northdevon.com/Lynton-Valley-of-the-Rocks)
30 miles of converted railway track. Great for all ages and abilities as it is flat and full of scenic and wildlife interest. Named after the Tarka the Otter book by Henry Williamson, the trail between Braunton and Meeth links many locations in the book. The Tarka Trail is one of the country’s longest continuous traffic-free walking and cycling paths, and forms part of the Devon Coast Cycle Route. Bring your own bike or hire one from Tarka Trail Cycle Hire. (www.tarkabikes.co.uk). (www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/tarka-trail).
A fabulous way to explore Exmoor and the historic town of Dunster. Two wonderful ways to absorb adults and children while at the same time exploring the stunning moors and the nooks and crannies of Dunster Castle and the town. These are just two of many Treasure Trails. (www.treasuretrails.co.uk).
Your Exmoor Treasure Trail mission:
Twisted Dr Ivor Plott has always hated having to live in a city. For this reason he has become insanely jealous of the fresh air, open space and beautiful scenery to be found on Exmoor. Hoping to spoil it for everyone else he has planted a huge smelly smoke bomb in the middle of the moors. The clock is ticking and the moors are depending on you! Can you figure out the 4-figure code to deactivate the bomb? This is a driving Trail which covers a 53 mile circular route around the moor with about 3 miles of walking during the 10 stops along the way. It starts at Dulverton "The gateway to the moors" and concludes at Dunkery Beacon the highest point on Exmoor. There are plenty of refreshments available along the way and toilets at most stops. The Trail should take about 4 1/2 hours to complete. PLEASE NOTE: The area is populated by sheep, ponies and deer roaming freely on the open moorland. Care should be taken at all times whilst driving on the moors.
Your Dunster Treasure Trail mission:
The body of librarian Paige Turner has been found in the reference section of the local library. She had been researching the history of Dunster's residents. Had she unearthed some terrible secrets? We will never know! But someone wanted their skeletons to remain in the closet so badly they murdered poor Paige. Can you find out who? This is a lovely Trail around this historic medieval town. It is 2 miles long and will take approximately 2 hours to complete. Parking is available in the pay and display car park on Dunster Steep. It is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. DO NOT START THE TRAIL UNTIL 1030 am as some clues will not be accessible until after then!
A grand Gothic revival country house set in one of the finest gardens in Devon, with over 1200 plant species unique to Knightshayes. Always a riot of seasonal colour (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knightshayes).
An independently-owned narrow-gauge railway line. Only about a mile long, but through the most picturesque piece of the North Devon Coast from Woody Bay to Killington Lane Halt. Tickets entitle you to stay on the train for as long as you like. (www.lynton-rail.co.uk).
The museum and Victorian School Room are based in the old school in Allerford near Minehead. It offers a unique glimpse of a bygone age. Children particularly ar fascinated by the Victorian School Room with its original desks and slates and text books. Visiting children can dress up in Victorian clothes, write on slates and play with Victorian toys. (www.allerfordmuseum.org.uk).
50 acres of award-winning gardens, lakes cascades, temples and tranquil woodland walks, the culmination of 3 centuries of landscape design by Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian designers, including Sir Edwin Lutyens. A stupendous day out for adults and children. (www.hestercombe.com).
a picturesque little harbour village. The beach is one of Margaret Drabble’s best loved places in the world. (www.porlockweir.com/porlock_weir.html).
A restored 18th Century watermill, built on the site of a mill mentioned in the Doomsday Survey of 1086. The fully operational mill is set in peaceful surroundings alongside the River Avill and is at the entrance to the Dunster Castle River Gardens (www.dunsterwatermill.co.uk).
A great way to see the hidden nooks and cranies of Exmoor, and see plenty of wildlife too. You have the choice of two companies: Red Stag Safari (www.redstagsafari.co.uk) and Barle Valley Safari (www.exmoorwildlifesafaris.co.uk).
Home of the romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was here that he wrote his finest works: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Kubla Khan; Frost at Midnight; The Nightingale; Cristabel; and This Lime Tree Bower my Prison. The house and gardens of a joy (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage).
For a childrens day out, it is hard to beat. Pirate ships, a play fort, zip wire, wild animals (including those very cute meerkats) and an indoor and outdoor café (www.tropiquaria.co.uk).
Take a 20-mile trip down memory lane. The sounds and smells from the age of steam are a thrill for both heritage enthusiasts and young children alike. The line runs a regular service through beautiful countryside between Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, and Minehead Railway Station, using both steam trains and heritage diesel engines throughout much of the year. Check out their website for special events such as Murder Mystery Specials and Days out with Thomas the Tank Engine, they are always great fun! Don’t miss Wallace & Gromit, who will be making a personal appearance at Minehead Station on Saturday 12th April 2014. (www.westsomersetrailway.vticket.co.uk).
Exmoor ponies are more rare than Giant Pandas. They have been brought back from the brink of extinction by dedicated interested groups. At the Centre, visitors can join half-day treks across the moors on these wonderful ponies that can trace their lineage back 130,000 years. (www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk).
A medieval clapper bridge with a 55-foot span over the River Barle. This is a hugely popular spot, not least because of the excellent 16th Century Tarr Farm pub/restaurant which is a wonderful spot to picnic and enjoy a pint at the same time while children can paddle in the river. Paths on both sides of the river provide a rewarding and spectacular wooded walk. (www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk). (www.tarrfarm.co.uk).