Dog friendly short breaks
There’s nothing like skipping town for a few days and getting out into the countryside with your dog. With so much of the UK perfectly set up for dog-friendly short breaks, here’s a few suggestions of our favourite areas, so you can spend less time planning and more time out there worrying if your over-excited dog is ever coming back. You’ll find a few ideas for what to do on your short break and some great dog-friendly places to stay wherever you choose to go.
The Lake District is famously one of the best places for getting away with your dog, thanks to miles of trails through some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery. That popularity can lead to crowded trails in summer, so consider a shoulder season visit or exploring some of the lesser–known areas. One of our team recommends the hike up Helvellyn from Glenridding on the shore of Ullswater. It’s a stunning route but has a challenging, narrow ridge and while she did see a collie or two, it certainly isn’t French bulldog territory. For a gentler walk, try a wander round Castlerigg Stone Circle in its dramatic natural amphitheatre of surrounding mountains, wild swimming in the pools along the Hardknott Pass or an eerie, echoey visit to Cathedral Cavern.
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly short break in Scotland, you’ve got two main options. While the far north and the west-coast islands are superb for scenery and snuffling among rockpools, you’re probably best keeping to one of the two national parks close to the big cities if you’re short on time. The Trossachs is so close to Glasgow that it almost leaps up on you as you leave town. Within an hour you can be on the shores of Loch Lomond and from there it’s not far to the wild Loch Voil, home of the delightful and dog-friendly hotel, Monachyle Mhor. A little further north, the massive expanse of the Cairngorms could swallow the Lake District with room to spare. It’s a gorgeous landscape of peace, mountains and fresh water that fuels fabulous distilleries. Finally of course, you can’t mention dog-friendly breaks in Scotland without talking about a climb of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury crags on the outskirts of Edinburgh, surely one of the finest dog walks from a city centre anywhere in the world.
The idea of a dog-friendly short break in Cornwall instantly conjures thoughts of days at the beach, waiting for your ball to be washed back in on the waves. However, many of the beaches have restrictions on when dogs are welcome, so you might want to check out our guide to Cornwall’s best dog-friendly beaches here. Even if you have to stay off the sand, Cornwall offers plenty of dog-friendly entertainment, from the winding coastal paths to the brooding expanse of Bodmin Moor. The route to the prehistoric site on Buttern Hill in the north tip of the moors is a team favourite for taking in beautiful woodland and sweeping views, while also showcasing Cornwall’s flair for mixing culture and history with stunning landscapes. Another such hike is the winding climb from the Counting House at Botallack, that goes through wildflower meadows and up the cliffs via the ruins of the engine houses left over from the once-thriving mining industry.
If you’re planning a trip to Wales with your dog, it helps to think about the direction you’re approaching from and a little about what you’re after. In the north, Snowdonia is a wonderland for the hardier walker, but creature comforts are few and far between. Aside from the relatively easy walk up the eponymous mountain, the park’s routes can be quite challenging. A good map is a must and if you happen to have a St. Bernard, top up that brandy barrel before you set off. Further south and slightly more user- and dog-friendly are the Wye Valley and the Brecon Beacons, where you can stroll the ruins of Tintern abbey, find wonderful pubs hidden in the hills and drift down the river in kayaks, which gives your dog a chance to wear their fancy buoyancy jacket. Last, but certainly not least is the Pembrokeshire Coast. Despite being fairly far west and south, this is probably the easiest part of Wales to enjoy a dog-friendly short break. Its wealth of coastal paths, coves and charming seaside towns and villages have led it to become known by some as “the new Cornwall”, but its beauty is all its own.
The gentle hills of the Cotswolds make it perfect for even the stumpier of your four-legged friends and one of the best places for dog-friendly short breaks in the UK. There are short and simple strolls like the climb to Broadway Tower, a Capability Brown folly with stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding greenery, or the 100 miles of the Cotswold Way running down the whole of the region’s western edge. From that main trail, lovely circular walks loop off through woodlands and meadows. A team favourite is the route to the Belas Knap barrows that curves round to end in Winchcombe, a timeless village of peaceful pale stone. It gives you a lovely blend of hilltop views and forest paths, plus the chance to seek out one of the many dog-friendly pubs in the Cotswolds, where your dog can stretch out under the table as you enjoy fine food and great local ale.
Chris is our copywriter, who spins enticing articles out of rough notes and travel tales. Having grown up in rural Wiltshire with only cats, he defected to Team Dog and now roams the countryside with Porth, a gorgeous spaniel named after a Welsh town in what he considers to be a joke. They love disappearing into the hills and coming back hungry for a good pub meal, although Porth has not been convinced to follow Chris into vegetarianism.
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