Best dog-friendly walks in the South West
Our resident dog experts have shortlisted five of the best dog-friendly walks in the South-West, with beautiful scenery for you and plenty of trails for your pooch to enjoy. Discover forest trails, clifftop coastal paths, huge open fields and enormous expanses of beach that’ll leave both of you conked out on the sofa at the end of the day.
1. Wistman’s Wood Walk, Dartmoor, Devon
You won’t find better dog-friendly walks in the South West than at Dartmoor National Park – with over 368 square miles of open moorlands, forest and river valleys you and the pooch could never get bored. This moderate two-hour (five mile) walk takes in both the beauty of Wistman’s Wood as well as epic views from the top of the Tors. The wood has occupied this spot near Two Bridges for over 6,000 years, and features ancient oak trees and over 100 species of lichens.
The walk begins at The Two Bridges Hotel and follows the woodland trail along the West Dart River up to Longaford Tors. Stop here to catch a breath (it’s quite steep!) and take in the magnificent views of the moors, before heading back down via Littaford and Crockern Tors. Once back, it’s off to find a well-earned cream tea in front of a fire.
2. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
At almost 400ft deep and 3 miles long, this is England’s largest gorge and one of the most spectacular natural sights. It is home to specialised plants and wildlife, many of which you’ll spot on this wonderful dog-friendly hike.
You’ll set off from the National Trust centre at the base of the gorge and follow the signs up a steep hill and into the woods. From here, the path takes you along the Cheddar cliffs before reaching Black Rock – a stunning spot with 180 degree views. After a pit stop and a big gulp of fresh air, follow the path back around the gorge and down through woodland. There’s a brilliant dog bakery, Cheddar Paws, waiting at the bottom where you can treat you and your four-legged friend to a cupcake or biscuit.
3. Branscombe to Beer, Devon
Autumn, winter and spring are all brilliant months to visit Beer as it remains a peaceful spot to while away a day or two. To make the most of this dog-friendly stretch of Jurrassic coast, we’d recommend setting off on the 3-mile walk from Branscombe to Beer. Not only do you get to take in breathtaking views of the ocean and cliffs, but there are ample opportunities to ramble down to the beach so your pooch can enjoy a swim.
Starting in Branscombe, follow the South West Coastal Path signs that take you through fields and up over hills. You’ll shortly emerge from the trees to gorgeous views of the coast and beach below. The route follows up around the clifftops and through grassy verges – dogs will love zig-zagging through the paths. Veering into Beer, you’ll pass over two kissing gates and the old Coastguard station. Once you’ve quenched your thirst at one of the pubs, head back via the way you came. Sunsets are spectacular here, so we’d recommend heading back to Branscombe beach for sundown.
4. Fowey Point, Cornwall
Cornwall is home to some of the UK’s best dog-friendly walks, and the Fowey Point route is certainly up there as one of them. Not only is the circular walk four miles long, it also contains two ferry trips: from Fowey to Polruan and Fowey to Bodinnick. You’ll pass the still green waters of Pont Pill, wander through woodland and creek and revel in the striking views of Fowey Harbour. It’s easy to turn the walk into a whole day’s activity, stopping off at some of the town’s many dog friendly-pubs along the way.
Begin the walk at The Old Ferry in Bodinnick and follow the signed footpath for “Hall Walk”. You’ll walk adjacent to the water’s edge towards the Q memorial before heading to Pont Pill. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way until you reach Polruan, where you can pick up the ferry towards Fowey. Despite being only a short boat ride, the views from the water are sensational as you head for the harbour.
5. Corfe Castle, Dorset
A variety of landscapes, views and walking paths are what make the best dog-friendly walks so memorable. This circular route from Corge Common to Corfe Castle takes you around a pretty Dorset village and up to the fascinating ruins of an 11th century ruin. The Common is the county’s largest area of common land, and is particularly lovely in summer when there are plenty of wildflowers and butterflies. From here, you can also climb up to an elevated ridge for gorgeous views of the castle and countryside beyond.
After taking in the views, you’ll descend on the Purbeck Way back to the village and pass pretty churches made from local marble. The trail then passes below the castle before climbing the hills, where you can stop to explore the ruins and take in the wonderful sights, sounds and scents of nature. For adventurers, there’s the option to extend your walk on the Purbeck Way and go further towards Blue Pool. This turquoise lake is surrounded by peaceful woodland trails that you and the pooch will love.
Ella has a great eye for telling a story in a full article or a single picture. Marshall only has eyes for anyone who’ll give him a scratch or a biscuit. He’s also partial to a wander in the woods and days spent digging in the sand. Together, they’re a coastal adventure dream team who love heading back to Ella’s Devon roots or exploring the rugged fringes of Wales.