VITAL work to restore Dunster's 17th Century working water mill has been completed.

Extensive use and exposure to the elements had left the wooden water wheel in a poor condition.

The restoration work will help to ensure the survival of one of Dunster's key attractions and tourism businesses.

The mill, visited by 10,000 people every year, still operates as a working water mill producing between six and eight tonnes of organic flour a year.

Mill tenant, Mike Bushen, said: "As a small business the restoration of the main wheel was crucial for us.

"Not only does it mean that we can carry on milling, but also that we can continue to offer visitors the chance to experience a real life historic working mill.

"The difference between this and a non-operational mill is stark. Visitors here can experience all the sights, sounds and smells of the mill and really imagine what it would have been like running at full capacity."

The present mill, owned by the National Trust, was thought to have been built on the site of a previous one in1680.

The Doomesday Book mentions Dunster as having two working mills, so milling could taken place on the site for some 900 years.

With its two wheels, the mill is regarded as the finest example of its kind in the West Country, and one of only three or four left in the country.

Mike added: "The mill represents a valuable piece of our cultural heritage.

"As a tenant of the site I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to help preserve it for the future, and the work that we've done here will now help to do that.

"We are also able to continue contributing to the local economy by producing good quality traditionally-made, organic flour, which is sold in many local shops."

Money for the restoration has come from the Exmoor Sustainable Development Fund, provided by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the South West Rural Development Agency, administered by the Exmoor National Park Authority.

Dunster Mill is open to the public between 11am-4.45pm most days throughout the season, which runs from April 2- November 6.