The famous sand and shingle Dunster Beach is one of the most exquisite beaches in the UK. To the west, the beach extends to Minehead, and towards the east, it reaches the Blue Anchor. This beach has a 25-mile long coastal path located on the border of Exmoor in West Somerset, South West England.
Every year visitors from across the globe throng the place to cherish the scenic view of the Bristol Channel and the Blue Anchor Bay. Read this entire article to explore the history of the Dunster Beach Chalets, facilities at the beach, and things to see and do during your visit.
Early History – Dunster Beach Holiday Camp
The beauty of Dunster Beach was the key inspiration for Walter Luttrell who set up Dunster Beach Holiday Camp during the 1920s. This was the first chalet or a hut built on the edge situated between the sea and the Hawn.
Sources depict that the chalet was moved several times as Luttrell wanted to keep it out of the view from the Dunster Castle. At that time, the hut was painted in green to match it to the surrounding meadows.
Even today you can point out the striking difference between this hut (number 17) with other chalets built around this building. It is smaller than those built in the due course and retains the legacy of the place.
The Holiday Chalets – 1920-1950
Soon after the construction of the first chalet, a new project was started to build a series of chalets at the Luttrell estate sawmill in the Marsh Street. At that time, the cost of building a chalet was £65 and for those with a verandah was £75. More than 90 chalets were built in a row during this decade.
The developers were bound to stop the expansion temporarily following the Great Depression in the 1930s. However, by 1939, they were able to build another row of chalets. Initially, there were some basic amenities without toilets, electricity, or water supply in the chalets.
The defense authorities strengthened the coastline with pillboxes, open furrows, and anti-landing posts during the Second World War. Royal Observer Corps also had an observation post at Dunster. Even today you will find pillboxes around the chalets as a token of remembrance of those days.
The holiday chalets were overcrowded with the coastal fortification constructors and had meandered open ditches, infantry posts, pillboxes, and were surrounded by thorny wires for defense and safety.
Post World War Era
With passing time and during the aftermath of World War II, the holiday camps were again opened to the public. In 1951, the Luttrell estate including the 185 chalets of Dunster Beach Camp was put up for sale. Herbert Reeves of Porlock purchased the chalets along with the licenses to sell meat and milk, for a carpentry shop, and regulate rental car services at the beach with an annual income of over £2,090.
At the start, Reeves tried to convert the Hawn (now a nature reserve) into a working harbour again but did not succeed. In the due course, he tried to build toilets and a bathhouse on the site.
Not-for-Profit Company of the Chalet Owners-1965
In 1965, 230 chalet owners formed a not-for-profit limited company and purchased the 41-a. site. The present-day holiday village is spread over an area of 50 acres.
There is a small shop at the site beside the beach office of the company. The chalet owners also elect a board of directors every year to look after the beach affairs. Despite the modernisation, the chalet owners have successfully maintained the innate nature of the place.
Today many of the chalets have toilets with luxurious interiors. The chalet owners also appoint a team of caretakers headed by a beach manager to take care of the businesses at the beach and manage the small shop.
The old harbour at Dunster does not exist today but the large lake or the Hawn is one of the most beautiful remains at the place. It is situated on the inward side of the chalets. It unites the sea at the private P&D car parking area.
Do you want to know more about the History of Dunster Beach?
Read Bernard Concannon’s book- ‘The History of Dunster Beach’. It is a lovely compilation full of high-resolution images, verified facts and figures, and elaborate history of the beach throughout the years until 1995. The latest edition also has an additional chapter composed by Martin Harborne inclusive of the rare photos of Dunster Beach Holidays’ 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2015.
To grab your copy today, visit http://www.dunsterbeachholidays.co.uk/shop-cafe/history-of-dunster-beach/.
Facilities at Dunster Beach
While the place is not suitable for swimming, there are the following basic amenities offering a comfortable holiday experience to the tourists.
Toilets: Apart from the chalets, you can find fully accessible toilets and shower blocks at the beach.
Dogs are allowed: You can take your dog to the Dunster beach and the surrounding areas at any time of the year.
Car Park: There is a massive car parking area behind the beach where you can safely keep your vehicle and enjoy your day. Do not miss the view of the channel from the P&D cark park. Just leave your car and take a short walk towards the west to reach Dunster Beach Holiday village or the way to the 230 chalets.
Food and Refreshment: Whether you would like to savour the favourite flavoured ice cream at the kiosk or try some appetizers, there is everything at the beach. Pick up any preferred snacks at the picnic and BBQ area, stop by a kiosk or ice cream van to satiate your sweet tooth, or visit the time-honoured Luttrell Arms Hotel for a drink.
Other Facilities: The beach shop is open 7 days a week from April. From bird seeds to basic supplies, it offers every bit of support to the tourists. The travellers can also find necessary information and support at the site office beside the shop from the beach staff team whenever needed. Apart from other amenities, there is also a laundry room at the beach site.
For emergency support, beach authorities provide access to a defibrillator and phone. There is also a post box next to the beach office.
Things to do at Dunster Beach
Whether you love nature or want to explore the beauty of the tranquil beach life, Dunster Beach is the ideal place for the holiday alone or with the family.
Don’t know yet what to do during your stay at the dunster beach chalets?
While on your visit do not miss the most splendid views of the following places as you enjoy a great adventurous journey.
Enjoy Your Stay at the Classic Stylized Chalets
Unlike the luxurious hotels, the huts at Dunster Beach holiday village have a homely environment. Most chalets now have a flush toilet, kitchen with washbasin, electric shower, sofas, etc. Some also have patio furniture sets. Some chalet owners let allow only family friends or close associates to stay at the property.
Most of them offer accommodation at marginal costs just enough to meet the maintenance expenses. This is why some owners do not provide cleaning services. Rather they request the guests to leave the chalet in a condition they found at the time of entry.
Walk at Dunster Beach
When at the site, no one can ever miss the chance to walk across the 400 acres of dazzling private sandy beach and the pebble bank. While the adults can’t swim here, the destination is safe and calm for kids bathing.
There are a lot of activities to do at the beach- play cricket, ball games, fly kites, or just walk along the coastline to relax your mind.
Explore the Wildlife at Nature Trail
When on a visit to Dunster Beach, also go for the Woodland Walk- a half-mile of walk through the flat pathways beside the placid lakes, bridges, etc. This is where you will find the flora and fauna of the region.
Feed the Birds- The abode of birds paradise amid the green surroundings, there are beautiful native and migratory birds in the Nature Trail.
For avid bird lovers, it can be a good experience to feed the birds seeds (available at the beach shops) to the geese and ducks on lakes. Watch out for the sea birds feeding at shores and the heron diving for the dinner.
Butterfly Garden – The native vibrant flower bed in the region is the home to numerous butterfly species.
Before you even step out, do not forget to carry the binoculars and your camera to capture the spectacular views of the wildlife.
Ride the Steam Trains
Away from the hustles of city life, here you can still see and ride the steam trains just like in older days. While on a ride the visitors are left mesmerised by the beauty of the Quantock countryside.
Panoramic View of the Sky at Night
For those who are lucky to spend the summer holidays at Dunster Beach, it is lovely to lie down on the ground watching the open sky. Free of noise, crowd, and pollution, this is the best place to view the constellation with few lights around.
Take Your Dog for a Stroll at the Beach
Many tourist places do not allow dogs on the premises. Thankfully, dogs are always allowed at Dunster Beach throughout the year. Now you do not leave your puppy back home during the tour. You can enjoy all the refreshments during your holidays on the beach with your pet.
Go for Sport
Dunster Beach has something for everyone. For those who love playing tennis, the private tennis court is available for hire at the beach shop. Spend an hour or even more time playing there as everything from rackets, balls, and accessories are available for hire.
Mini Golf- The 6264-yard 18-hole and 72 links mini-golf course at Dunster Beach is situated just beside the Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club. For those who have their golf club-ready, can spend some time sporting here throughout the year. If not, hire your golf club at the Club.
Feel the Charisma of the Ancient Times
Dunster Beach is the best place to relieve yourself of the stress of the contemporary metropolitan lifestyle. There are fewer flower plants and grass near the pebble bank. The beach huts in the holiday village, still have the same exterior preserving the traditional look and feel of the village.