It does not seem two years since we stayed at the excellent Yarn Market Hotel in the beautiful Exmoor National Park, but great places always live long in the memory for all the right reasons.
This fine hotel, situated in the centre of the perfectly preserved historic medieval village of Dunster, near Minehead, offers so much to a wide variety of visitors and their interests, particularly those with an interest in visiting gardens and heritage properties.
First and foremost it is ideally located for a visit to Dunster Castle and Gardens, which is literally a short few hundred yards walk at the end of the street from the hotel!
A former motte and bailey castle, the castle lies on the top of a steep wooded hill called the Tor, and has been the fortified home of the Luttrells for 600 years. Remodelled in the 1870s to create a splendid Victorian country house, it has a fine 17th- century carved staircase and ornate plaster ceilings, whilst outside the terraced gardens contain an array of rare shrubs, a collection of palms, sub-tropical plants, and the Dunster Lemon tree.
It will soon become apparent as to the magnificence of this castle which has breathtaking views over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel. Discover how it was used in its heyday and how the family hosted grand occasions from society balls to polo matches, with impressive interiors and lavish Victorian decoration.
Dunster is a mix of cobbled streets and also features a working watermill, dovecote, church and priory, an ancient market building and a 14th century packhorse bridge. There are also a series of fantastic walks which lead out of the village encompassing coastal, moorland and riverside scenery. For me, it is Somerset’s version of the Cotswolds.
Nearby are some wonderful individual gardens, such as the small but delightful woodland gardens at Greencombe in the Vale of Porlock, full of rare and beautiful plants, and the Walled Gardens of Cannington which lie within the grounds of a medieval priory.
Heritage and Steam
The Yarn Market Hotel is also close to the West Somerset Railway's station at Dunster. With its terminus at nearby Minehead, the WSR is the longest heritage railway in England, on which you can take a nostalgic steam train ride along 20 miles of Somerset coast and countryside stopping at a series of truly pretty village stations along the way.
The climate in Dunster is generally mild in Winter with snow being a very rare event and the daffodils are usually flowering before Christmas. With that in mind, a popular attraction in January is Exmoor's hidden Snowdrop Valley where the woodland floor is quite literally a carpet of white blooms.
Groups and Individuals
As well as welcoming individual guests the hotel also specialises in group bookings and can work with group leaders to arrange itineraries to include visits to local attractions and gardens and assist with transport with the hotel's minibus. Familiarisation visits are offered to bona-fide group organisers to come and explore the location and hotel facilities for themselves in advance of bringing a group. It has 28 bedrooms and can seat up to 65 in the restaurant.
A programme of varied activity breaks for individual guests is on offer during the year, including choral singing weekends, railway breaks, jazz music, walking holidays, garden tours and much more, details of which can be found on the website at www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk.
Many of these tours and activity breaks can also be organised for group visits, and a discussion with the hotel's team is highly recommended as they can also provide information on many other attractions and places to visit in the area, including advice on suitable routes across Exmoor.
For further information about these breaks and staying at the Yarn Market Hotel, contact them by calling on 01643 821425 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively visit their website here
Yarn Market Hotel, High Street, Dunster, Exmoor, TA24 6SF.