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

Route Filmstrip & Description

The Deer Park circuit is one of several waymarked trails set up by the Crown Estate in Dunster Forest. It passes two Iron Age hill forts and includes mediaeval parkland close to Dunster Castle. The waymarked route starts and finishes close to Gallox Bridge which is not accessible by car. The trail described starts from the main car park in Dunster and returns through the village itself, passing several historic buildings.

Surveyed by: Exmoor National Park Authority Volunteer, August 2015 (Summer)
Accessibility Rating: 4More Information
Distance: 6.5 km

Public Transport: Several bus routes pass through Dunster making it accessible from Taunton, Tiverton and Minehead
Car Park: There are two public car parks in Dunster plus a National Trust car park.
Steps: No
Barriers: No
Toilets: There are toilets near the main car park in Dunster and in Dunster Castle (NT).

Full Profile

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

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

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

Start In the south-west corner of the car park, there is a gate (1m 20) which leads into the 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.

Width 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.

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

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

Path

Path

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.

The Deer Park circuit has brown waymarkers.

Information The Deer Park circuit has brown waymarkers.

A good track starts to climb (30%) but there is seat after 150m or so.

Seat A good track starts to climb (30%) but there is seat after 150m or so.

500m from the information board, there is a junction where a right fork is taken.

Path 500m from the information board, there is a junction where a right fork is taken.

 

Path

300m further on, there is another junction at which the route bears left...

Path 300m further on, there is another junction at which the route bears left...

Path

... 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

After a short distance, the track is joined by another from the left.  The route turns sharply left onto this track...

Path After a short distance, the track is joined by another from the left. The route turns sharply left onto this track...

...and climbs gently for 150m.

Path ...and climbs gently for 150m.

There is a large gate in a deer fence which encloses much of the old Dunster Deer Park.  It is possible to see red deer and Exmoor ponies in this enclosure.

Path There is a large gate in a deer fence which encloses much of the old Dunster Deer Park. It is possible to see red deer and Exmoor ponies in this enclosure.

Having passed through the gate, the path climbs steeply at first.

Path Having passed through the gate, the path climbs steeply at first.

Soon the gradient eases as the surface becomes grassy.

Path Soon the gradient eases as the surface becomes grassy.

About 150m from the gate, there is a hill fort to the right of the track.  The earthwork around this can be difficult to see when the vegetation is high.

Feature of Interest About 150m from the gate, there is a hill fort to the right of the track. The earthwork around this can be difficult to see when the vegetation is high.

The route continues, going straight ahead at a T junction.

Path The route continues, going straight ahead at a T junction.

There are now good views of the coast, the Bristol Channel and Wales to the north.

Path There are now good views of the coast, the Bristol Channel and Wales to the north.

After a gentle climb, the views can be enjoyed from a seat near the entrance to Bat's Castle.

Seat After a gentle climb, the views can be enjoyed from a seat near the entrance to Bat's Castle.

To deter cyclists, a fence with a 45cm gap has been constructed.

Width To deter cyclists, a fence with a 45cm gap has been constructed.

An information board explains the history of the Iron Age structure.

Information An information board explains the history of the Iron Age structure.

The earthworks are crossed twice and can be explored further although the going is a little rough.

Feature of Interest The earthworks are crossed twice and can be explored further although the going is a little rough.

There is another 45cm gap at the exit from the hill fort.

Path There is another 45cm gap at the exit from the hill fort.

On leaving the fort, a level path heads towards conifers.  150m from the trees, the circuit turns left downhill but still on a pleasant grassy track.

Path On leaving the fort, a level path heads towards conifers. 150m from the trees, the circuit turns left downhill but still on a pleasant grassy track.

At a T junction with a major track, the route turns left.

Path At a T junction with a major track, the route turns left.

In less than 100m, there is a right turn onto another forest track.

Path In less than 100m, there is a right turn onto another forest track.

Path

There is a mix of conifers and deciduous trees in this section with some fine  oak  trees to be seen.

Path There is a mix of conifers and deciduous trees in this section with some fine oak trees to be seen.

The track surface is generally good but has a few wet patches.

Path The track surface is generally good but has a few wet patches.

As the track enters a clearing, there is gate whereby the enclosed area is exited.

Path As the track enters a clearing, there is gate whereby the enclosed area is exited.

A very good track, known as Park Lane is joined and followed left (downhill).

Path A very good track, known as Park Lane is joined and followed left (downhill).

At the edge of the woodland, there is a small reservoir to the left of the track.

Path At the edge of the woodland, there is a small reservoir to the left of the track.

Path

Park Lane veers to the right after 500m.  The circuit turns left...

Path Park Lane veers to the right after 500m. The circuit turns left...

...to re-enter the enclosure through another large gate, known as Carhampton Gate.

Path ...to re-enter the enclosure through another large gate, known as Carhampton Gate.

The trail now crosses wood parkland.  A seat close to the gate gives a good view of this and beyond to Dunster Castle.

Seat The trail now crosses wood parkland. A seat close to the gate gives a good view of this and beyond to Dunster Castle.

A footpath meanders down the slope, passing many more large oak trees.  Some of these are thought to be veterans.

Path A footpath meanders down the slope, passing many more large oak trees. Some of these are thought to be veterans.

 

Path

After passing through a gate, the path follows the line of a fence to the right.  To the left, there is a steep slope covered by many ant's nests.

Path After passing through a gate, the path follows the line of a fence to the right. To the left, there is a steep slope covered by many ant's nests.

 

Path

 

Path

Path

The path goes under a fallen tree and soon reaches another gate in the deer fence where the woodland is left behind.

Path The path goes under a fallen tree and soon reaches another gate in the deer fence where the woodland is left behind.

Once through the gate, the original information board can be seen to the left.  The route turns right.

Path Once through the gate, the original information board can be seen to the left. The route turns right.

Path

A good path leads to Gallox Bridge.  It is possible to turn right here, retracing the original route.  An interesting alternative is to cross the 1.2m wide bridge and return through the centre of Dunster.

Path A good path leads to Gallox Bridge. It is possible to turn right here, retracing the original route. An interesting alternative is to cross the 1.2m wide bridge and return through the centre of Dunster.

The tarmac road is the beginning of Park Street.

Path The tarmac road is the beginning of Park Street.

In 50m, this bears to the left with a small car park on the right.

Path In 50m, this bears to the left with a small car park on the right.

The Forester's Arms marks the end of Park Street where the road joins the A361.  A right turn leads to Dunster along the main road but there are no pavements in places so much care is needed.

Path The Forester's Arms marks the end of Park Street where the road joins the A361. A right turn leads to Dunster along the main road but there are no pavements in places so much care is needed.

Path

Path

The main road comes to a set of traffic lights.  A gated road to the right gives access to Dunster Castle for those interested.  The Parish and Priory Church of St George is directly ahead and is well worth a visit.

Feature of Interest The main road comes to a set of traffic lights. A gated road to the right gives access to Dunster Castle for those interested. The Parish and Priory Church of St George is directly ahead and is well worth a visit.

Path

The main road continues through the centre of Dunster and passes several cafes and restaurants before coming to the Yarn Market.  This is a mediaeval structure where wool was once traded.

Feature of Interest The main road continues through the centre of Dunster and passes several cafes and restaurants before coming to the Yarn Market. This is a mediaeval structure where wool was once traded.

The main road now turns right passing the National Park Information Centre and some shops just before the main Car Park.

Path The main road now turns right passing the National Park Information Centre and some shops just before the main Car Park.

Dunster Deer Park Phototrail

 

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Map Markers

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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
View
Direction
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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