The 12.37 from Dunster

On the second day of our short break in the beach chalet we decided to take the steam train from Dunster to Watchet.

The West Somerset Railway operates a quaint and very popular steam train service from Bishops Lydeard to the seaside resort of Minehead. The station at Dunster opened in 1874, the stone station house is a grade II listed building and I believe the signs and fixtures are original too. It was like stepping back in time standing on the platform especially when the train came steaming towards us.

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The journey took less than 25 minutes initially along the coast, then through the countryside and very soon we arrived at Watchet station, another lovely station trapped in a time warp. This station was first opened in 1862 and the cute waiting room comes complete with a coal fire, a cafe and second hand bookshop which provided much needed shelter from the rain when waiting for the train back.

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Watchet harbour is a very short walk from the station over the railway bridge, it was first recorded in the Dark Ages when a physician later called St. Decumen sailed from South Wales on a raft with a cow!

Above the harbour is Daws Fort that was built in the Iron Age for protection and was rebuilt by King Alfred to fight off the Vikings invading from the Bristol Channel.

The small resort gets it’s name from wacet, the blue dye found in the cliffs and it was an early trading centre, in the 10th Century coins were minted there for Ethelred II and five more Saxon kings.

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Eating lunch and a wander around the shops and harbour took the best part of 3 hours and soon we were chugging away back to our temporary home. This time we managed to get a seat in one of the little compartments and this afforded a much better view for us all the way back.