Landscape Photo
Photographer: Brian Horisk/AdventureArt, Fife, Scotland

Route Filmstrip & Description

This is one of several waymarked trails in Dunster Forest. The waymarking starts by Gallox Bridge and the circuit visits the tallest tree in England and ancient hill settlements, Bats Castle and Gallox Hill. There is no vehicular access to Gallox Bridge so a route is described from the main car park in Dunster.

Surveyed by: Exmoor National Park Authority Volunteer, June 2015 (Summer)
Accessibility Rating: 4More Information
Distance: 8.1 km

Public Transport: Dunster is served by several bus routes (Minehead, Taunton, Dulverton/Tiverton)
Car Park: There are two public car parks in Dunster and a National Trust park at Dunster Castle
Steps: No
Barriers: No
Toilets: Near the main car park and in Dunster Castle grounds

Full Profile

The main car park in Dunster is off the A396 close to the junction with the A39.  It can be busy in peak holiday times.

CarPark The main car park in Dunster is off the A396 close to the junction with the A39. It can be busy in peak holiday times.

In the south-west corner of the park there is a gate (1m 20) which leads into parkland around Dunster castle.

Start In the south-west corner of the park there is a gate (1m 20) which leads into parkland around Dunster castle.

After a short, steep (40%) section with exposed roots (easily avoided to the right), the castle comes into view and the path heads towards the National Trust car park.

Path After a short, steep (40%) section with exposed roots (easily avoided to the right), the castle comes into view and the path heads towards the National Trust car park.

There is a gate (90cm) just above the car park.  The trail keeps to the left of the car park, following a tarmac surface for 100m.

Gate There is a gate (90cm) just above the car park. The trail keeps to the left of the car park, following a tarmac surface for 100m.

Path

Path

Unless the castle is to be visited, the route turns left through a kissing gate (50cm clearance) to follow a field path around the castle grounds.

Gate Unless the castle is to be visited, the route turns left through a kissing gate (50cm clearance) to follow a field path around the castle grounds.

Path

There is another gate (1m) before the trail crosses a bridge over the river Avill to follow a level path along the edge of a farm field.

Path There is another gate (1m) before the trail crosses a bridge over the river Avill to follow a level path along the edge of a farm field.

Path

Gallox bridge is approached after 450m.  This is a mediaeval bridge used by the wool trade.  It is crossed on the return leg of the circuit.

Feature of Interest Gallox bridge is approached after 450m. This is a mediaeval bridge used by the wool trade. It is crossed on the return leg of the circuit.

A left turn to Dunster Forest is signposted.

Path A left turn to Dunster Forest is signposted.

A good track passes a grassy area with seating before a few houses.

Seat A good track passes a grassy area with seating before a few houses.

At the edge of the forest, there is a large information board with details of several trails.  The first waymark, points right.

Path At the edge of the forest, there is a large information board with details of several trails. The first waymark, points right.

Bats Castle circuit has Dark Blue waymarkers

Information Bats Castle circuit has Dark Blue waymarkers

Path

A good track climbs (30%) for 500m to reach a junction where the right fork is taken.

Path A good track climbs (30%) for 500m to reach a junction where the right fork is taken.

After 300m there is another junction at which the route bears left...

Path After 300m there is another junction at which the route bears left...

...to reach another junction.  The trail continues along the main path but there is a good viewpoint...

Path ...to reach another junction. The trail continues along the main path but there is a good viewpoint...

...which can be reached after a right turn and a short walk.

Path ...which can be reached after a right turn and a short walk.

There are good views towards Grabbist Hill and the moors of Exmoor.

View There are good views towards Grabbist Hill and the moors of Exmoor.

These can be enjoyed from a bench seat before returning to the main track.

Seat These can be enjoyed from a bench seat before returning to the main track.

Path

Continuing south, the track is joined by another from the left...

Path Continuing south, the track is joined by another from the left...

... before passing a sculpture of a bear.

Feature of Interest ... before passing a sculpture of a bear.

The track is level and wide but has a fairly rough surface.

Path The track is level and wide but has a fairly rough surface.

100m after the bear, there is a junction where the trail turns left downhill (signposted to Bonninton).

Path 100m after the bear, there is a junction where the trail turns left downhill (signposted to Bonninton).

Path

Path

Path

After several bends the track opens out and joins a tarmac road where it crosses a small stream.

Path After several bends the track opens out and joins a tarmac road where it crosses a small stream.

Path

Shortly after the tarmac changes to a rougher surface, the circuit turns left.

Path Shortly after the tarmac changes to a rougher surface, the circuit turns left.

Just before a Blue Badge car park, there is an information board describing the Tall Trees Trail.

Information Just before a Blue Badge car park, there is an information board describing the Tall Trees Trail.

This is a wheelchair friendly path which soon passes a device for measuring the height of the tallest tree in England.

Path This is a wheelchair friendly path which soon passes a device for measuring the height of the tallest tree in England.

The path goes close to the foot of this tree.

Feature of Interest The path goes close to the foot of this tree.

Before continuing...

Path Before continuing...

... to a seating area.

Seat ... to a seating area.

Path

From the seating area, the main track is easily rejoined and followed for 100m to a junction where a left turn is made.

Path From the seating area, the main track is easily rejoined and followed for 100m to a junction where a left turn is made.

Another good track climbs through the trees.

Path Another good track climbs through the trees.

Shortly after another track joins from the right, the track levels out and then drops.

Path Shortly after another track joins from the right, the track levels out and then drops.

Path

Path

Path

By a field, the track merges with another and continues to the right.

Path By a field, the track merges with another and continues to the right.

In 50m, there is a sharp turn to the left...

Path In 50m, there is a sharp turn to the left...

...which leads to a bridge...

Path ...which leads to a bridge...

...before joining Park Lane, one of the main tracks through the forest.

Path ...before joining Park Lane, one of the main tracks through the forest.

This climbs again.

Path This climbs again.

Path

Path

Path

After 400m, the circuit turns left, leaving Park Lane.

Path After 400m, the circuit turns left, leaving Park Lane.

To the right of the track is a bank on which an impressive old beech hedge grows (King's Hedge) and this is crossed through a gap after 150m.

Path To the right of the track is a bank on which an impressive old beech hedge grows (King's Hedge) and this is crossed through a gap after 150m.

The track narrows and climbs through a plantation.

Path The track narrows and climbs through a plantation.

There are muddy areas and fallen trees to walk around.

Path There are muddy areas and fallen trees to walk around.

At the top of the plantation, there is a large gate through a deer fence into more open ground.

Path At the top of the plantation, there is a large gate through a deer fence into more open ground.

After a short steep section (40%), the ground levels out.  Red deer and Exmoor ponies may be seen in this enclosure.

Path After a short steep section (40%), the ground levels out. Red deer and Exmoor ponies may be seen in this enclosure.

At a T junction, a left turn is made to join a section of the Macmillan Way.

Path At a T junction, a left turn is made to join a section of the Macmillan Way.

This leads to the eastern side of Bats Castle, an iron age hill fort.  The ditch is accessed through a gap (45cm) in a fence (although here, cyclists have worn a narrow path around the fence).

Width This leads to the eastern side of Bats Castle, an iron age hill fort. The ditch is accessed through a gap (45cm) in a fence (although here, cyclists have worn a narrow path around the fence).

The embankments and ditches are impressive and can be explored but the going is rough underfoot. There is an information panel.

Feature of Interest The embankments and ditches are impressive and can be explored but the going is rough underfoot. There is an information panel.

On the western side, there is another fence with a similar 45cm gap.

Width On the western side, there is another fence with a similar 45cm gap.

A seat close to the fence allows some wonderful views to be enjoyed, especially towards Minehead and the Welsh coast.

Path A seat close to the fence allows some wonderful views to be enjoyed, especially towards Minehead and the Welsh coast.

The circuit continues along the top of the hill.

Path The circuit continues along the top of the hill.

After 600m, as the track starts to drop, there is a second hill fort just to the left of the route.

Feature of Interest After 600m, as the track starts to drop, there is a second hill fort just to the left of the route.

Path

Path

The track drops downhill for another 300m until a gate through a deer fence is found.

Path The track drops downhill for another 300m until a gate through a deer fence is found.

A short distance below the gate, the route turns right - well waymarked.

Path A short distance below the gate, the route turns right - well waymarked.

 

Path

Path

Path

A further 300m leads to a T junction where the route rejoins the track that climbs from Gallox Bridge.

Path A further 300m leads to a T junction where the route rejoins the track that climbs from Gallox Bridge.

A seat on the track may be more welcome now, but the going is downhill.

Seat A seat on the track may be more welcome now, but the going is downhill.

Path

At the bottom of the slope, just after the information board, the route bears left along the track towards Gallox Bridge.

Path At the bottom of the slope, just after the information board, the route bears left along the track towards Gallox Bridge.

Path

At Gallox Bridge, a right turn allows the outgoing route to be retraced but an alternative is to carry straight on over the 1.2m wide bridge.

Feature of Interest At Gallox Bridge, a right turn allows the outgoing route to be retraced but an alternative is to carry straight on over the 1.2m wide bridge.

This leads to a tarmac road (Park St) on the edge of Dunster.

Path This leads to a tarmac road (Park St) on the edge of Dunster.

There is a much smaller car park as the road bears to the left after 100m.

Path There is a much smaller car park as the road bears to the left after 100m.

At the end of Park St, the road meets the A396 at the Forester's Arms.  A right turn leads into the town centre but the road is without pavements in places so great care is needed.

Path At the end of Park St, the road meets the A396 at the Forester's Arms. A right turn leads into the town centre but the road is without pavements in places so great care is needed.

Path

Just before a set of traffic lights, it is possible to turn right to visit Dunster castle.  The road bears right at the lights with a church set well back from the road.  The church of St George has occupied the site since the 12th Century.

Feature of Interest Just before a set of traffic lights, it is possible to turn right to visit Dunster castle. The road bears right at the lights with a church set well back from the road. The church of St George has occupied the site since the 12th Century.

Path

After carefully following the main road and passing many cafes and restaurants, the trail passes the Yarn Market, a mediaeval structure where wool was once traded.

Feature of Interest After carefully following the main road and passing many cafes and restaurants, the trail passes the Yarn Market, a mediaeval structure where wool was once traded.

Path Following the main road leads past the National Park information centre before arriving back at the starting point.

Dunster Bats Castle Phototrail

 

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Accessibility Info Amenities Info Facilities Info Features Info Way Finding Info
Barrier
Clearance
Gate
Gradient
Obstacle
Seat
Step
Surface
Visibility
Width
Accessible toilets
Blue Badge parking bays
CarPark
Public Transport
Toilets
Bird Hide
Boating
Cafe
Fishing
Museum & Heritage
Shelter
Viewing Platform
Visitor Centre
Water  Sports Centre
Wildlife
Feature of Interest
Information
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End
Path
Start

 

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Vertical Profile

This is an approximate vertical profile with samples taken at 100m intervals along the trail.

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