In December, GTO’s Partnership & Product Director Sarah Jeffery and her daughter, Caitlin, joined a small group on a familiarisation trip to Exmoor, organised by The Yarn Market Hotel in the delightful Somerset town of Dunster. Arriving on Sunday afternoon, they were welcomed by hotel owner Antony Brunt, who took the group to visit the National Trust owned Dunster Water Mill, set in peaceful surroundings alongside the River Avill and at the entrance to Dunster Castle River Gardens. Here they met guide Gail Brooks, and she led them around the fully restored 18th-century working watermill, built on the site of a mill mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Currently producing stoneground wholemeal flour from organic wheat, the mill is in action on the first Wednesday of every month.
After a delicious treat of mince pies and tea back at the hotel, the group departed for an evening stroll around the Illuminated Festive Trail at nearby Dunster Castle. Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, the castle dates back to Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent history.
On Monday, the group took themselves off in their own cars for a self-guided tour on Exmoor, following a coach safari route. This included a visit to the free Lynmouth National Park Centre, one of three on Exmoor, where information about the local area including walks and heritage can be found. That evening, they enjoyed a drinks reception at the Yarn Market Hotel, where they met representatives from Dunster Castle. The next day, the group enjoyed a ride on the longest Steam Heritage Railway in the UK – West Somerset Railway – which connects Minehead with Bishops Lydeard. The group sampled sherry and mince pies, plus a visit from Santa, whilst they watched the miles roll away. Sarah and Caitlin had a lovely time and recommend Exmoor as a great destination for group visits with Dunster as the ideal base.