Planning a holiday with your four-legged friend? Look no further than the glorious county of Devon. Filled with beautiful countryside, stunning coastline and more dog-friendly beaches than you can shake a stick at, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect spot for a getaway with the pooch. Need more convincing? Okay, gather round dog owners – here are the best things to do in Devon with dogs.
The South West Coast Path
Best for: Pups who just love to hike.
Did someone say ‘walkies’? Spanning a whopping 630 miles, the South West Coast Path is England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath. Hailed as one of the best walks in the world, this incredible long-distance trail spans the entire Devonshire coast, taking in some of the most beautiful sights of the Jurassic Coast.
Whilst you may not be up for walking the whole thing, tackling a few different sections is much more manageable and will give you a great insight into the local scenery, history, geology and culture. The South West Coast Path is generally dog-friendly, but it’s best to use this handy guide to check which beaches allow dogs etc. During the walk, you should keep dogs on leads to ensure they don’t disturb any wildlife or stock.
South Devon Railway
Best for: Getting out and about with the dog when you don’t feel like a big walk.
Gather up the pooch and hop aboard the South Devon Railway, to journey back in time together. This multi-award-winning steam train adventure is the longest established steam railway in the whole of the South West. Most visitors start their adventure in the town of Buckfastleigh, at the railway’s headquarters.
Chug your way through seven miles of stunning countryside – past gently rolling hills, winding rivers, enchanting woodland and herds of cows grazing in the fields. The bucolic Dart Valley is one of the most beautiful spots in Devon and is even more magical when viewed from the window of a traditional steam train.
Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum
Best for: Cultured pooches.
Visit the village of Arlington and take the pooch to spot wild red deer on the elegant Arlington Court Estate. This fascinating Regency house is set amidst acres of beautifully-landscapes gardens and grounds, just perfect for strolling through. The Chichesters, who owned the estate for 11 generations, absolutely loved dogs and have made sure that dogs on leads are welcome in the carriage museum, surrounding gardens and across the wider estate.
At Arlington Court you’ll also find The Deer Park Walk, which is three miles long and takes about two hours, starting and ending at the estate’s tearooms. The nature trail takes you through ancient woodland, past the Carriage Museum and through a nature reserve. If you fancy making a full day out of it, then you can always explore the museum and estate afterwards. Before finishing things off with a hot chocolate and a slice of cake in the tearooms, of course!
The Donkey Sanctuary
Best for: Animal lovers who want to support a great cause.
Home to 100’s of rescued donkeys, The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth makes for a great day out with the pooch, especially if you’ve got any keen animal lovers in the group. Growing from humble beginnings in 1969, The Donkey Sanctuary is now one of the world’s largest equine charities, helping donkeys all over the world.
The sanctuary is open to visitors every day of the year and is free to enter. It’s also dog-friendly, providing pups are kept on a lead throughout the visit. As well as a herd of loveable donkeys, you’ll also find scenic farm trails, a nature centre, multiple play areas, a maze and an ‘Understanding Donkeys’ zone here.
Westward Ho! Beach
Best for: Sandy paws and splashing in the sea
Head over the the seaside village of Westward Ho! to visit one of the best dog-friendly beaches in North Devon. Westward Ho! Beach welcomes dogs all year round. This stretch of long sandy beach is bordered by a pebble ridge, giving you the best of sand, stone and rock pools. There’s plenty of space for the dog to run around or chase new found friends in, and you’ll also see plenty of surfers and sun-seekers out and about too.
On one side of the beach, you’ll find Northam Burrows Country Park, which is a great spot if you want to make it into a proper walk. Dogs are allowed at this end of the beach all year round – perfect for a sunny summer afternoon. Pups are permitted on the rest of the beach from October through to April, making it the perfect choice for a beautiful coastal winter walk.
The Dart Valley Trail
Best for: Any dog whose favourite word is ‘walkies’.
Take the pup out on an adventure along The Dart Valley Trail. This 16-mile route takes in both sides of the River Dart and passes through some stunning Devon countryside. For a circular route, start your trail in the town of Dartmouth.
Following the beautiful River Dart, you’ll wander past ancient woodland, rolling hills and quaint stone cottages. The pooch will just love exploring the different habitats and sniffing around while you stop to take pictures and admire the view.
Best for: Families with kids and dogs.
Another incredible dog-friendly beach, the lovely mile-long Beesands Beach in Totnes is bordered by picturesque countryside and dramatic cliffs. Welcoming dogs from October to April, this shingle beach is also a family-friendly spot, complete with a children’s playground.
Close by the tiny village of Beesand, you’ll find a cosy pub here to head to after you’re done on the beach. Unchanged for the last 50 years or so, Beesand is a great example of a traditional West Country fishing village. What’s more, you reach both the village and the beach by journeying down an old country lane – giving the sense that you’ve stepped back in time.
Best for: Epic photos with the pooch
One of the UK’s most iconic sights, Durdle Door is a magnificent geological wonder close to the village of West Lulworth. This incredible limestone arch can be found along the Jurassic Coast, towering out of the aquamarine water at 200 feet high. Within the World Heritage Site, the arch is also part of the Lulworth Estate and a short walk from Lulworth Cove, which dogs will love too.
A sweeping expanse of secluded cove leads to Durdle Door, which is perfect for picnicking and relaxation. Sit back and watch the dog have the time of its life splashing around in the sea or fetching sticks from along the beach. This iconic spot welcomes dogs all year round, just make sure you clean up after them!
Best for: A relaxing day on the beach with the pup
Woolacombe Beach is a three-mile stretch of beautiful golden sand and it receives some of the best Atlantic breakers in this part of the world, attracting surfers from far and wide. Although it is a family favourite during the summer, its vastness means that it rarely feels overcrowded. Dogs are allowed on most parts of the beach and will absolutely love playing in the vast sand dunes and fetching sticks from the shore.
This award-winning beach is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Surf lessons take place on the beach and provide fun for all the family. The bustling seaside resort of Woolacombe village provides facilities for tourists.
Haldon Forest Park
Best for: An outdoor adventure all together
Just 15 minutes away from the bustling city of Exeter, this 3,500 acre stretch of woodland is the perfect spot to explore on foot or bike. Home to four lovely walking trails, five epic cycling adventures, a Go Ape course, segways and orienteering courses, there’s plenty to do in Haldon Forest Park.
Named the Best Free Family Day Out in the South West in 2019’s Family Favourites Awards, Haldon Forest Park provides the perfect opportunity to get out into the great outdoors together as a family, pup included. You’ll have lots of laughs together and get fit and healthy along the way – what’s not to like?!