Holidays with Young Kids – Dunster Will Delight


Holidays with Young Kids - Dunster Will Delight

By Sarah Turner 

Exmoor is magnificent and beautiful, and it just so happens to be the perfect place for holidays with young kids. Why? To those who only know it from afar, it may conjure images of rolling hills and rocky waters. However, it has a secret to reveal to visitors that venture closer. We simply had no idea that the fairytale Dunster Castle and its Medieval market town existed until we visited. As we approached Dunster for the first time, a hidden gem, suspended as if by magic in the mystical hills of Exmoor, revealed itself. Our first trip to Exmoor suddenly became a whole lot more than we bargained for!

Dunster 2

Family ’staycations’ - a surprise delight

Now, we will not spoil the magic for you by revealing all that we have discovered… That is for you to find out yourself! However, we can tell you that we are a family of five, plus one dog. We had three young children who were three, nine and 11 when we first came to Dunster in 2018. Prior to that, we thought they needed holidays abroad with swimming pools and amusements for entertainment. Little did we know this is one of the best places to holiday in the UK with young kids!


Dunster - a magical adventure holiday destination for families 

It was the arrival this year of our puppy Border Collie, Ridley, that initially led us to look for a holiday closer to home. We wanted to find a place that would welcome our new family member. As it turned out, it was the children who benefited most from the more local adventure! What we learnt most profoundly about our kids is that they love doing something new every day, discovering and exploring. They are much more capable of going for a walk than we thought. Sitting around the same pool every day in the searing Mediterranean heat is exactly what they don’t like. Here, the usual arguments and tantrums simply disappeared – could it be the magic of Dunster? Indeed, if your holidays with young kids call for a touch of wonder, why go to Disneyland to visit a plastic castle when you can experience a real one closer to home? Why not go for a walk up the hill opposite and explore the fairytale gothic folly – sorry we were not going to spoil it! And as for fairytale princesses; well, I can tell you, we had three sleeping beauties after a day out on Exmoor…!


Why our family returns again and again to Dunster

Our original trip to Dunster was for just a few days. The Luttrell Arms Hotel was our accommodation of choice, partly due to it being dog-friendly and partly because we wanted to stay somewhere ancient and historic. We were looking for somewhere that would give the children a feeling of Hogwarts, which it certainly was. It was supposed to be a fairly short break with the children. However, we soon realised we would not get to experience everything, and so we extended the stay to five. Despite this, we still had an unfinished list! So, at the insistence of our children, we returned again for a little longer, then again for longer still, and again… You get the idea! We stayed once more at the hotel, but it became prohibitively expensive and restrictive for a family of our size. Longer-term lodgings that wouldn’t cost the earth, but still offer some of that local charm, was what we were after. We tried a cottage in a village close to Dunster, but it lacked the magic. You couldn’t pop out to the little chocolate shop near the castle for an ice cream – sorry we’re spoiling it again!



The Oval holiday cottage, Dunster - like living in a fairytale

On our fourth visit last year, we made our greatest Dunster discovery yet. Nestled among the higgledy-piggledy houses at the foot of the castle lay an ancient cottage with a big old castle door. And in the window - a little holiday let sign! It was The Oval, probably Dunster’s most interesting and certainly its most historic cottage. If you want to feel like you have walked into a fairytale, then this is where you should stay. Even the Time Team people  have been here! Now, since we’re clearly not in the business of spoiling the magic for you we won’t tell you anymore. We’ll stick with practicalities only.


Dog-friendly accommodation

The Oval , one of four Exmoor Character Cottages, is a perfect size for a family of five (probably more) and, of course, the dog. What makes staying here so great for a young family?




Posted by:Minehead Bay