The Best Dog-Friendly Walks in the UK
UK residents love their dogs and we’re truly blessed with some incredible locations to take them on walks. With rugged coastline, picturesque countryside and 15 spectacular National Parks to explore it’s no wonder that people are ditching their overseas holidays and opting for dog-friendly holidays in the UK instead.
With this particular trend on the rise, “staycations” with our furry friends present an opportunity for both owner and pet to get outside into the fresh air to go exploring. The question is, where do you start?
If this sounds like a dilemma you’ve been having then our dog walking guide has been designed with you in mind! We’ve put together some of the very best dog walks in the UK along with some important information for you to consider to help you and your pooch to enjoy the best of the UK together.
Where are the best places for dog walking in the UK?
Each area of the UK has its own beautiful walking areas from the rural landscapes of East Anglia to the historic country estates in the Midlands and the vast green parks and lakes in the inner cities.
Here we’ve picked out nine of the very best dog walks in the UK including National Trust locations and public spaces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; enabling you to choose the region, area, coastline or park that appeals to you:
- East of England: Sheringham Park, Norfolk. Sheringham Park is just a short distance from the North Sea coast, and will tick all your boxes if you enjoy both coastal and woodland walks. The beautiful 1,000 acre landscape and woodland garden offers mile after mile of coastal views with plenty of space for your pooch to explore.
- The Midlands: Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire. This National Trust location offers almost 4,000 acres of natural woodland along with a dedicated indoor space for dogs and a number of water bowls. There are animals in the Park so you will have to keep your dog on a lead for the majority of the time; and there are a variety of signposted walks of varying lengths for you to explore.
- The Lake District: Sticklebarn, Cumbria. Widely regarded as the best part of the UK to walk with your dog, the Lake District offers a varied landscape with everything from rugged terrain around the Lakes to trails in the hills with some truly breath-taking views. Sticklebarn may not be as popular as Windermere and Ambleside; but it does offer a wonderful dog friendly pub, the Sticklebarn Tavern, which even has its own menu for dogs!
- The North East: Wallington, Northumberland. The 13,000-acre Wallington Estate in Northumberland is filled with secret walks and treasures waiting to be discovered. From the beautiful river walk to the woodland that has its own hidden walled garden and – of course – the House itself; Wallington is a haven for dog walkers in Northumberland.
- Yorkshire Dales: Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate. Situated on Marsden Moor near Harrogate are the beautiful natural rock formations known as Brimham Rocks. With miles of open countryside to walk your dog through, there are some amazing views over the Yorkshire Dales and many are just a 10-minute walk from the car park – ideal if you only have a small dog or don’t fancy a long trek.
- South East: The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent. One of the most famous locations in the whole of the UK, the White Cliffs represent a beautiful part of the British coast but also one where you need to keep your dog on a short lead at all times. On a clear, sunny day you can see for miles and miles making the windswept coastal walk one of the most popular. Just be wary of the grazing sheep and ponies.
- South West: Killerton, Devon. There aren’t many places in the UK that are as dog-friendly as Killerton .Throughout the park there are all kinds of things for them to discover, plus water bowls located around the area and even a dog washing area for you to clean down muddy pups! Dogs are allowed off the lead in the majority of the parkland but pay attention to where they must be on a lead and where they’re not allowed (these areas are signposted and often contain livestock).
- Wales: Chirk Castle, Wrexham. With 5-and-a-half acres of beautifully maintained lawns finished with colourful borders and rock gardens; the woodland and gardens surrounding Chirk Castle are a fabulous place to take your dog for a walk. The spectacular 14th Century Castle makes for a wonderful backdrop that stands proudly above the meeting point of the rivers Dee and Ceiriog with wild ponies, sheep and more wildlife to be spotted at every turn.
- Northern Ireland: Divis and the Black Mountain, near Belfast. Within the Belfast Hills are the Divis and Black Mountain – two peaks that stand out above the capital of Northern Ireland. With almost every type of terrain to walk on ranging from heath and stone tracks to road surfaces and farmer’s trails; your dog will have plenty of space to stretch their legs.
Where are the best dog-friendly beaches in the UK?
Holidays at home continue to grow in popularity and holidaymakers are able to take their beloved pets with them rather than having to pay expensive kennel bills. There are now an abundance of pet friendly holiday cottages around the UK that even provide beds for pets, and many of these are on the coast.
If you’re considering booking a beach holiday in the UK, it’s worth checking that the local beaches allow you to take your dogs onto them before going for a walk; but here are some of the best and most popular dog friendly beaches in the UK are:
- Old Harry Rocks walk, Dorset. A dog-friendly, circular walk along the Dorset coast with a pub waiting for you at the end – what’s not to love? The Old Harry Rocks walk takes between one and two hours and covers 3.5-miles along the beautiful Jurassic Coast.
- Whitehaven, Cumbria. A highly challenging walk, the Whitehaven coastal walk is one for experienced walkers with fit and healthy dogs. Taking approximately four hours to complete, this 7-mile trek features a dramatic cliff-top walk that passes through the town and out to the coast.
- Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire. One of the most picturesque parts of Yorkshire (and that’s saying something), Robin Hood’s bay is a beautiful stretch of the coastline where dogs are allowed all year round. With plenty of space to run and play they’ll have just as much fun exploring the coast as you will!
- Compton Bay, Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is a place that lots of people have heard of but never visited – and trust us, you’re missing out! With over 17-miles of National Trust coastline to explore you can see the whole of the island during a short holiday, especially if you’re taking your dog. Compton Bay is a great sandy beach with some wonderful views, but dogs are not allowed between mid-May and mid-September so that the beach can be protected and managed during the peak season.
- Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland. The two-mile stretch of golden sand at Portstewart Strand on the North Coast of Northern Ireland is an ideal place for a quiet but picturesque walk with your dog. The soft sandy beaches make for a perfect playground for pups with all kinds of birds and wildlife to spot.
- Gower, Wales. The Gower peninsula in South Wales was the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. All over the region there are a number of coastal walks of varying distances, the majority of which allow you to let your dog run free. There are clifftop walks as well as strolls along the seafront with something surprising to see around every corner.
Where are the best places to go for dog-friendly pubs?
After going for a long and picturesque walk with your dog you’ve probably earned yourself a drink and maybe even a bite to eat. A lot of pubs have changed their policies in recent years so that they allow dogs in, particularly those in popular walking areas.
Here we’ve selected some of the most popular walking areas in the UK with some lovely dog-friendly pubs at the end:
- The Mill House Inn, Trebarwith Strand in Tintagel, Cornwall. It’s hard to pin down just one fabulous dog-friendly pub in Cornwall because it’s such a fantastic and welcoming area; but seeing as the actual dog from Doc Martin is a regular here, this one gets our vote! Serving local food and drink as well as plenty of pub favourites and offering a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere; be sure to pay a visit if you’re in the area.
- The Inn at Whitewell, Clitheroe, Lancashire. With views over parkland and sitting just above a beautiful, flowing river; The Inn has understandably become a popular venue for dog walkers. It has a restaurant but also offers drinks and food in the bar and an outdoor terrace. There are even beds specifically for tired pups to get their heads down while you enjoy a drink or nice meal.
- The Globe Inn, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. The beach at Wells-next-the-Sea is a shingle spit; and the beautiful village is filled with character and wonderful dog-friendly pubs such as The Globe Inn. With a sun-trap at the front for you to sit and soak up the sunshine, comfortable indoor seating complete with log-burning fire and beds for your dogs; it’s a pub you have to visit if you’re walking in Norfolk.
- Castle Inn, Bakewell, Derbyshire. The Peak District is filled with fantastic little pubs that maintain their original look and feel, so choosing a favourite was difficult. The 16th-Century pub at Bakewell, however, takes the honour because of the beautiful local scenery and countless dog walking trails in the area.
- Finally, of course, The Sticklebarn Tavern in the Lake District. Mentioned earlier in our guide, The Sticklebarn Tavern is so dog friendly that it even offers customers a menu designed specifically for dogs.
Can you take dogs into National Parks?
All 15 of the UK’s National Parks permit you to take your dog for a walk, provided that you’re responsible. There are a number of truly beautiful areas just waiting to be discovered and they are also among the best places to walk dogs anywhere in the UK with the vast open spaces for you to explore at your own pace while your furry friend gets plenty of exercise.
That doesn’t mean that you can just let your dog run wild in the countryside, however. National Parks are filled with wildlife, livestock and working farms so it is vital that you pay attention to signs and keep your pet on a lead around other animals.
Does my dog need to be on a lead at all times in a National Park?
National Parks are a wonderful place for you and your dog to explore and you are allowed to take them off the lead – provided that you follow some fairly straightforward guidelines.
For instance, if you know that the second you take the lead off your dog will be off into the distance it is possibly best to keep them on a lead. This is especially vital if you’re walking with your dog anywhere near farm animals and wildlife. These animals are particularly sensitive and there have been instances where animals have attacked each other.
A lot of the land within the 15 National Parks is used for grazing and that means that animals are often in the fields or birds that nest at ground level may even have laid their eggs on the ground. If this is the case then, again, it is advisable to keep dogs on their leads in order to preserve the nesting sites.
When is my dog allowed off a lead?
When you’re walking your dog they are permitted to be off a lead provided that they are not deemed to be “dangerously out of control.”
According to the UK Government website, a dog is out of control if it injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them. The case can also be taken to court if, for example, it attacks another animal. If your dog is deemed to be out of control then you may face a prison sentence of up to six months and/or receive a fine.
Are there any other dog walking rules I need to be aware of?
You may also receive a fine if you don’t clean up after your dog. It is your responsibility to clean up any mess and fines can range from anywhere between £50 and £1,000 depending on the location, the council and your refusal to pay the fine.