Pawsome places – our top ten Spots for dog days out
Taking your dog out and about? You’d be barking mad not to. More and more businesses are seeing the sense of courting the hound pound and making their establishments dog-friendly – so it’s easier than ever to introduce your dog to some culture and a few decent pubs (for a pint of Bulldog or a dash of Beefeater gin?).
It’s about time, says dog-friendly Pitchup.com, who thinks it ruff when we can’t go into a café or pub with our best friend. Harumph.
In celebration of Crufts starting today, we’ve put together our top ten dog-friendly places and events in the UK. Let us lead the way:
But this very purty Gower Peninsula stretch of sand is well worth another mention, as it’s been called the UK’s most dog-friendly beach: mutts are allowed on the sands here all year round (Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula are pretty pooch-friendly in general: see here for their list of dog-friendly beaches).
Finding a dog-friendly beach that’s also clean and safe can be as tricky as trying to get your hyper spaniel back indoors, as Blue Flag criteria says that access to the beach by dogs and other animals must be ‘strictly controlled’.
The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide criteria are less stringent as the society only assesses water quality: search its beaches for dog-friendly sites here.
The Horse and Jockey , Manchester
We are perplexed as to why a lot of pubs don’t allow dogs, since they’re generally quieter, cuter and less germy than many children.
Luckily, some pubs like the Horse and Jockey in Chorlton Meadows see the sense of allowing pooches around the hooch; this pub even won the Kennel Club’s Open for Dogs award in 2010 for its innovation in stocking beef flavoured dog beer from its own brewery. Woof.
Even before its debut in ‘Tarantino meets Nuts in May’ gorefest Sightseers, this period village with retro trams was a favourite of ours, and it’s now rocketed to the top of our list for its approach to dogs.
Furry friends are ‘warmly welcomed’ free of charge and ‘as our car park gets the sun all day we would much rather you brought your dog in with you,' they sensibly say.
The village also has a woodland walk and sculpture trail with sumptuous views across the Derwent Valley – even if your dog will be more interested in sniffing the scents around the art than appreciating its form.
Keswick and the Lake District
‘Where else in Britain could you walk your dog through the woods into town to run your errands at the post office and bank, then call at the pub for lunch before taking a taxi home?’ Well, quite.
These were the words of resident Alison True after Kennel Club voters named Keswick the most dog-friendly town in Britain in 2012: dogs are welcome in many local shops, cafés and pubs, and woodlands and fells are all around for walkies.
The Lake District is a top spot for dogs overall, with miles of walks (any self-respecting pooch should like the Cartmel valleys and bounding up Great Gable from Borrowdale) and many dog-friendly attractions including Windermere cruises and mine tours: more ideas at Lake District for Dogs.
There’s just something about tearing around an island with a dog that feels spiffingly Famous Five/Kirrin and Timmy, so we’re mighty pleased to see that ferry operator Wightlink carries canines to the island for free (we suspect they must be accompanied by a human and not be travelling alone like some kind of bandanna-clad furry hippy).
Even better, Wightlink has compiled a Pawprint guide to the island from a dog’s eye view, including dog-friendly beaches, surfer dog Sherrie and the best walks and accessible pubs.
We don’t think many things are a Patch on a heritage train ride in gorgeous Cornwall on a warm summer’s day, particularly with a dog at one’s feet ready to have its ears scratched.
The Bodmin & Wenford Railway steams gently through the Cornish countryside from Bodmin General to Bodmin Parkway, crossing the viaduct at the River Tamar and climbing up to Bodmin Moor. And the biggest billy bonus? Dogs are welcome – and ride for free on standard daytime services.
Historyheads and furballs should have a cracking day out at Yorkshire’s open-air museum covering six acres in the North York Moors and telling the story of over two thousand years of the Ryedale area – lots of paws for thought then. Dogs are ‘more than welcome’ on leads and can go into all the buildings including shops, cottages and the Tudor manor house.
Also in North Yorkshire, Helmsley Walled Garden, open from 1 April,has five acres to scamper around, water bowls available and a ‘dogs welcome’ policy in all areas, including the first bay of the café.
If you’re into your open air history (your dog will be into the open air at least) the rather fabulous Blists Hill Victorian Village in Shropshire also welcomes dogs in its outdoor areas.
Not that dogs need any more reason to get stupidly excited when their owner rattles the lead, but if you’d like to combine a dog day out with collaring some goodies then ‘Doggy Treasure Hunts’ around Hampshire and the south should hit the Spot.
Each team has one dog and as many humans as it likes, and spends around an hour hunting down doggie clues. Treats, sorry, prizes for all at the end.
The next treasure hunt is on 16 March around Lee on Solent seafront; keep an eye on the website for future jaunts.
We would probably spend next month’s rent at one of these, and possibly the month after that too. All About Dogs shows are weekends packed with dog activities and goodies, including agility displays to embarrass your clumsy mutt, competitions (same) and exhibitions/stalls to stock up on all things dog.
Take the furball along to shows at:
Suffolk , 18 – 19 April
Lincoln , 28 – 29 June
Southend , 5 – 6 July
Norfolk , 24 – 25 August
The esteemed Dogs Trust is holding its second summer show this year, at the measly price of £1 per human; dogs, of course, are free (as is parking).
Expect oodles of entertainment such as a dog show, displays, kids’ zone and agility show, all alongside refreshments, craft and charity stalls, raffles and a bar – we’ll see you there.
Also in Leicestershire, the Kennel Club’s famed International Agility Festival has been extended to four days in its tenth anniversary year and will run from 7 – 10 August at Rockingham Castle.
It’s utterly simples to find dog-friendly places to stay these days – we have hundreds of campsites, caravan parks and glamping sites that are dog-friendly: take a peek at our complete guide to camping with dogs, including a few of our top sites, the legal lowdown and how to keep the pooch healthy and happy on his hols.