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Minehead - Somerset
Situated on the northern coast of Somerset, on the eastern fringes of the high, bare plateau of Exmoor, Minehead is a pleasing resort town with a Victorian atmosphere (take M5 to Bridgewater, then coastal road A39). From Higher town very steep lanes lead to the Quay Town, the harbor area. Here, every May in three-day celebrations, the ancient ritual involving the Hobby Horse takes place. The boat-shaped horse, known as the Sailor's Horse, bedecked with colored ribbons. prances through the streets begging for alms, until the evening of May 2, when it is ceremoniously retired until the next year.
Minehead is the starting point for the South West Way, at 600 miles, the longest footpath in Britain (which traces the coastline along Devon's northern seaboard, around Cornwall, back into Devon, finishing at Poole Harbour, Dorset). It is also the terminus of the West Somerset Railway, which takes tourists into the Quantock Hills.
Dunster Castle is three miles inland from Minehead. After the deprivations of the Civil War, it was beautifully restored into something of an architectural showpiece by the Luttrell family, who lived here for 600 years. Now owned by the National Trust, the castle, set in terraced gardens offers interior tours in addition to occasional drama productions.
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