Our favourite lake and mountain destinations for dogs
The UK’s mountain and lake destinations make the best dog friendly holidays. The combination of open space, crisp air and cool water give a soul-cleansing dose of nature for both you and the pooch. Here are a few of our favourite destinations, from the craggy shores of Scotland’s Loch Awe to the emerald lakes that lie at the base of the Brecon Beacons.
Derwent Water, Cumbria
With mountains rising from the southern shores and four islands dotted across its few square miles, Derwent Water presents a dramatic, striking scene. But with the centre of charming Keswick just a ten-minute stroll from the water’s edge and the National Trust at work on the trails and viewpoints, it’s more easily reached and enjoyed than its remote feel might suggest. From the lakeside shop, waymarked trails lead out to the iconic Friar’s Crag, the Hundred Year Stone and the Chinese Bridge over the wetlands in the south. An eight-mile path runs right around the lake, providing one of the best dog-friendly Lake District walks there is.
Loch Awe, Scotland
Loch Awe is a majestic 25-mile strip of water carving between the mountains of the western highlands. At its northern end sit the brooding ruins of Kilchurn Castle, a 15th-century Campbell clan stronghold, and other crumbling buildings along its length are testimony to a long history of settlement and conflict. These days, Kilchurn Castle can be visited by taking a short boat trip or a walk over the bridge from Dalmally and the surrounding mountains offer incredible wild hikes. A three-mile route from Dalmally leads up into the hills, ending at the foot of the looming Cruachan Dam, while halfway down on the western shore is the bog and boardwalk scramble of the Inverinan Trail. It’s also a renowned spot for fishing, so you can spend a relaxing day going after char, trout and salmon, with a chance of seeing the eagles and ospreys showing you how it’s done.
Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons, Wales
The Brecon Beacons National Park is home to a stunning collection of mountains and lakes, all of which offer ample opportunities to tire out an active dog. Our team are big lovers of Llyn Y Fan Fach, a wild mountain ridge and 10 hectare lake. There are a variety of dog walks to enjoy, where you can marvel in the striking landscapes and even have a refreshing dip or two. Whilst shorter than its towering neighbours, Llyn y Fan Fach is certainly not any less spectacular. A manageable 4-mile walk starts in the small town of Llanddeusant and trails south towards the lake, which sits under the baseline of Bannau Sir Gaer.If you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk east along the entire ridge, crossing the Black Mountain to Fan Hir. Otherwise, descend north, stopping from time to time to absorb the view.
Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia, Wales
Nestled in the rock formation of Cwm Idwal is Llyn Idwal, a glacial lake supplied by freshwater coming off the nearby mountains. Recognised as Wales’ first National Nature Reserve, the landscape is hugely popular with hikers, rock-climbers and botanists. Dogs will adore the dramatic valley walk, which meanders through the heart of Snowdonia National Park. You pass miniature Ice Age relics and get to experience some of the most breathtaking views in all of Wales. The 3-mile walk begins at Idwal Cottage in Nant Ffrancon and follows the edge of the lake anticlockwise passing the ancient stepping stones before heading through Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve. There are opportunities to swim at the north end of the lake, perfect for finishing off an invigorating hike.
At first glance, Kielder is a pure wilderness of sweeping water and scattered islands. It’s a peaceful place that’s pretty empty even by Northumberland’s tranquil standards, with trails leading through thick woods all around the shore. The woods are plantations (and Europe’s largest forest), ferries help you cut the corners of the longer trails and the lake is in fact the UK’s largest reservoir, built in the late 70s and early 80s. Lakeside Way is a trail that follows the entire 27-miles around the lake’s shoreline. A manageable 2.5 mile dog walk starts at Bakethin car park, takes you through woodland alongside Bakethin Reservoir and onto the lake. As a designated nature reserve, you can expect to see all sorts of wildlife – from Roe Deer to Otters and Buzzards.
Kinder Scout, Peak District
Mountains tower over the rugged landscapes of the Peak District, and provide a scenic escape for walkers and their dogs. It was the first national park to be established in the UK and covers more than 550 square miles. The park has stunning landscapes to enjoy throughout the year, from the edges, to the reservoirs, viaducts, cycleways and varied wildlife and habitats. The highest peak, Kinder Scout, is a moorland plateau with stunning panoramic views and is one of the best dog-friendly walks in the Peak District. The classic trail starts from Edale Village and follows the Pennine Way; passing Kinder Downfall waterfall, Edale Rocks and Jacobs Ladder. Once back at ground level, both you and the pooch will be ready to cuddle up in front of a pub fire with a pint of local ale in hand.
Megan our in-house designer and Winston the whiplington are inseparable whether at home or away. They tend to lead a fairly outdoor life and love a big road trip in the van, but Winston’s whippet side means he’s not really one for the long hikes. A quick sprint along the beach or wander in the woods and he’s ready to sleep for most of the rest of the day, which leaves Megan to free to park him under a pub table and settle in.
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