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Woof-tastic dog friendly beaches  holiday cottages

Woof-tastic dog friendly beaches

Elainne Reed 19 February 2018

We believe our pooches have the same rights to an amazing holiday as we do. And what better place to do this than along the beautiful sandy beaches of our sunny isles. Long drawn out days on the beach, dips in the sea and ice-creams that you may just let your best pal share are all a part of what makes a day out with the dogs special. Canine companionship shouldn’t be restricted to the summer months though, just think of all those memorable winter walks on windy days, finishing with a hot chocolate snuggled up beside a log burner.

We've sniffed out some of the very best beaches from around the UK for you and your family to enjoy. Some beaches do have dog access restrictions, but we didn’t want you to miss out on some lovely walks for that reason, especially if there are dog-friendly zones at the same location. We have tried to give you the most up-to-date information, but do double check local websites before you go as things change!

We know that if you are reading this, you are a loving owner with experience, so we don’t want to give a long list of rules and regulations that you will have already thought about. However, here’s a short list of a few things that no pooch owner will mind being reminded about:

  1. Hot days and hot dogs do not go together – leave walks for early morning and evening.
  2. Take care with tides – the only thing worse than being stranded is being stranded with a dog.
  3. Keep dogs under control around children, wildlife and livestock.
  4. Cliff edges are nearer than you think – keep canines on leads.
  5. Only allow dogs to bathe in shallow waters – currents can be deceiving.
  6. Do not follow your dogs into the sea or rough water, they generally get out of trouble more easily than us.

We won’t even mention to not leave dogs in cars, however cool you think the weather is. Okay, so here is our selection of beaches for the beasts.

Woolacombe Beach to Putsborough, Devon

The bustling seaside resort of Woolacombe is where you will witness the North Devon Coast welcoming the gentle Atlantic waves to its sandy shores. This award-winning beach has been number one on Trip Advisor for two years running and is most famous for its biscuit industry. The simply stunning three-mile sandy beach, situated in between Morte Point and Baggy Point, is the highlight of the area. Popular with surfers, you may even see a sea-faring dog on a board in shallow waters. The beach is perfectly separated into three zones - no dogs, dogs on leads and mad dogs running free.

Vibe: Laid-back

Canine control: Restrictions April-November in Zone A (no dogs), May-October in Zone B (dogs on leads) and nothing in Zone C (dogs free as the wind). Putsborough has its own zone segmentation too.

Lifeguard: Yes (May-October)

In addition: Nearby cafes, restaurants and shops, disabled facilities, first aid, toilets, dog bins, parking, tourist information, water sports available including jet-skiing, sailing, surfing, windsurfing.

Weymouth Beach, Dorset

This traditional seaside town complete with pier is an award-winning three-mile crescent of sand and shingle. There are inviting, shallow waters to dip warm paws in and Punch and Judy shows in the summer for children. They do have summer fireworks so make sure that your dog is kept away and watch out for the beach volleyball if you have a dog that likes to get involved.

Vibe: Fun and traditional

Canine control: Restrictions April-October in main zone (dogs have free access at the Pavilion end)

Lifeguard: Yes (May-September)

In addition: Nearby cafes, restaurants and shops, disabled facilities, first aid, toilets, park and ride, tourist information, amusements.

Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea

With a mountain of awards to its name and called ‘the supermodel of British beaches’ by The Independent, this beautiful beach has also nabbed the greatest award and the only one that we are interested in – ‘the UK’s No.1 dog-friendly beach’! There you have three miles of gorgeous golden sands and views across the shimmering Atlantic, with the possibility of catching a glimpse of seals and dolphins splashing in the surf. You can also cross over to the small tidal island of Worms Head but do watch the tide here if crossing over and inform the Coastwatch Centre. We would only advise this for humans as it is rocky and if you are stranded, better that your dog is safe on dry land. Dogs have lots of space to paddle and chase each other on the main beach but do keep them on a lead on the way to the beach as there are grazing sheep on the way down. There is wonderful cliff top walking here as well for dogs on leads, needless to say canines and cliffs don’t mix, so exercise care! Please note that there are steps on the way down to the beach and no wheelchair access.

Vibe: Appreciative

Canine control: None – Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Nearby refreshments, shop, disabled facilities, toilets, nearby parking.

Porthmeor Beach, Cornwall

This heavenly Cornish beach, the largest in St. Ives, offers masses of running space for the exuberant hound all through the winter months. With a backdrop of artist’s studios and the Tate St. Ives gallery, this beach with its colourful changing huts, is only a bone’s throw from the centre of St Ives which has a cool, arty feel and lots of cafes and shops to wander around. Cuddle up with your canine chum(s) and watch the waves crashing against the rocks in the occasionally strong Atlantic sea winds!

Vibe: Cool

Canine control: Restrictions April-October

Lifeguard: Yes (April-October)

In addition: Nearby cafe, disabled facilities, toilets, first aid, shop, beach chalets for hire, surf school, parking

Luskentyre, Isle of Harris

If quarantine laws make it too difficult to fly your pooch to Hawaii or Bora Bora, this iconic, wild, unspoilt beach in the Outer Hebrides may be the closest you will get to a tropical island. Green rounded hills dotted with pink rock, creamy white sands stretching out to sparkling aquamarine seas meet golden eagles swooping down the slope of Ben Luskentyre. You will both feel a sense of tranquillity and light as you relax away from the crowds at other beaches. Take refuge in the sand dunes where you can spot birds to photograph, including long-tailed ducks, red breasted mergansers and oystercatchers – your dog will be kept busy with their nose down one or two of the many rabbit holes.

Vibe: Tropical

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Toilets, nearby free parking, boat trips available.

West Wittering, West Sussex

This privately-owned beach is dedicated to preserving the environment and keeping the area clean and is a real pleasure to visit. Not only offering a great expanse of sand but also 20 acres of grass lawn on which to frolic (and picnic), your dog will have a whale of a time here, dipping their paws into the shallow lagoons at low tide. Brisk winter walks give views of both Chichester Harbour and the infamous South Downs (also great for walking) and in summer, grab the kids and dogs and take a picnic.

Vibe: Respectful

Canine control: Restrictions May-October but some zones available all year round (either side of the groynes: 14a-18)

Lifeguard: Yes (summer season)

In addition: Café, shop, limited disabled access, first aid, toilets, dog bins, parking, tourist information, wind and kitesurfing club.

Holkham, Norfolk

There is only one word to describe Holkham beach and that is ‘magical’. Sand dunes stretching for miles with beautiful coloured skies above, it really is the most perfect beach for a walk. As one of the most important sites in the UK and looked after by Natural England, the Holkham National Nature Reserve deserves a mention – just bear in mind that there are nesting birds and so nosy canines should be kept under control! To reach the main beach, you will go down a boardwalk and encounter some mud but persevere – what lies beyond is worth the wait. When the tide is out, expanses of hard sand make this no work at all for dogs, so those pooches suffering from hip and leg problems shouldn’t find the sand too difficult. The copious sand dunes and pine forests have natural paths that you can follow but if it is too hot to walk, set up camp for the day in the sand dunes with an umbrella for shade. To top it all, during the summer, the Household Cavalry bring the military horses here to exercise – certainly worth a look if your dog doesn’t go mad at the sight of equines.

Vibe: Magical

Canine control: Restricted areas in summer and nesting time

Lifeguard: Yes (summer season)

In addition: Nearby beach cafe and shop, disabled facilities, first aid, toilets, parking.

Camber Sands, East Sussex

A long stretch of golden sand stretching along the coast to the shingle desert of Dungeness – hugely popular with surfers. Paradise for dogs in winter where at low tide they can run and run. During the summer, they are also welcome in restricted areas but it is such a huge beach that you will always find somewhere. Near to the ancient Cinque Ports town of Rye which also counts on many dog-friendly cafes and pubs, this beautiful beach with its sand dunes behind ticks all the boxes for the holidaying hound.

Vibe: Surfy and laid-back

Canine control: Restrictions May-October in main zone but access in other zones

Lifeguard: No – in discussion

In addition: Nearby beach cafes and shops, disabled facilities, first aid, toilets, dog bins, parking.

Runswick Bay, Yorkshire

Open to dogs all year round, this picture-postcard sheltered bay is well worth a visit. The cliffs at Kettleness Point are shaped like a crocodile’s head and local folklore has it that it gobbles up sailors at night! As you walk the beach, you can admire the pretty red-roofed cottages that gaze down onto the beach. Let your dog join you in searching the rock pools and fossil hunting, just make sure he doesn’t venture out towards the crocodile! There is quite a steep descent down into the bay which you may need to save some energy for to walk back up!

Vibe: Relaxing

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Nearby café and pub, toilets, parking.

Brean Beach, Somerset

The three miles of golden sands here will certainly excite any pooch who loves an adventure. Walk along the beach and then head up to Brean Down to have a significant moment with the pooch – the views over the sea and countryside all around are magnificent and if you like a bit of history, have a look around the iron age fort. Keep dogs on leads up here as it can be dangerous at the edges. Word on the street is that there are always tennis balls on the beach left behind by careless pooches, so there is scope for lots of playtime with other doggies.

Vibe: Fun

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Nearby refreshments, shop, disabled facilities, first aid, toilets, parking, watersports.

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales

A huge beach backed by an extensive system of dunes, this gorgeous beach even counts on its own Freshwater Stream for a mid-walk drink. At the southern end of the beach there is a rocky reef, whilst at the opposite end, quieter bays can be explored if your dog fancies a bit of ‘me’ time! There is a spectacular walking route with a nine mile hike to West Angle Bay but it is not for the faint-hearted! Let him run in the shallow waves, and dream of becoming a surfer when he grows up. The sunset is breath taking and so why not sit back, forget about your worries and spend some quality time with your best pal.

Vibe: Camper-van cool

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: Yes (summer months)

In addition: Café, disabled facilities, toilets, parking, watersports.

Formby, Liverpool

One of the only beaches on the Sefton Coast without seasonal restrictions on dog access, Formby has three self-filling water bowls, dog bags on request and woodland picnic areas to stop for a well-deserved lunch. Whizz over the dunes down onto the expanse of sand – in the evening, the sunset is spectacular and you can walk for miles when the tide is out (be mindful of very fast moving tides). Coastal pinewoods surround this lovely beach, just be aware of wildlife (including rare red squirrels) and livestock, so keep the pooch under control.

Vibe: Doggy heaven

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: Yes (summer months)

In addition: Nearby refreshments, disabled facilities, toilets, parking, tourist information.

Alnmouth, Northumberland

Sometimes you just want to escape to a quiet beach with your dog and nobody else. When you feel like this, Alnmouth is the perfect place for you both. Miles of golden sand and sea invite you to keep walking until you can walk no more. Come back and settle down with a hot chocolate and watch the waves lapping against the shore.

Vibe: Unruffled

Canine control:None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard:: No

In addition:: Nearby cafe, toilets, parking.

Seaham, County Durham

The Durham Coast is the place to go if amazing views mixed with wildlife is your thing. Dogs and humans head for the lively harbour town of Seaham when they want a special day out exploring – the rugged coastline sets off the beach perfectly and counts on a long sea wall that protects the cliffs from the dangerous North Sea. For something a little different, visit the harbour and finish with fish and chips on the beach – no dog will refuse a sausage or two! Other points worth visiting are Seaham Hall and don’t leave without paying tribute to the First World War statue, Tommy – you will not fail to be moved. For a spot of history, visit the St. Mary the Virgin church, one of the oldest in the country dating back to the 7th Century.

Vibe: Rugged

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Nearby pub and cafes, toilets, nearby parking.

Drigg Beach, Cumbria

Take a relaxing stroll along this tranquil beach from Ravenglass to Drigg – a great place to let your dog stretch his paws. Please bear in mind that the dunes are full of wildlife, so keep them under control. Early morning walks are best for the solitary pooch – you are unlikely to see anyone within miles. Look inland and you will enjoy beautiful views of the Lake District mountains and fells, the Isle of Man to the west on a clear day, and the cliffs of St. Bees Head to the north.

Vibe: Remote

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Parking

Kingsgate Bay, Kent

Kingsgate Bay is a sheltered sandy cove backed by imposing white chalk cliffs with sea caves thought to be amongst the best in the country. With a smuggling history, like much of this coast, you can have an adventure of your very own, exploring the little caves and rock pools. Great for quiet walks, access can be limiting because of its natural paths but there is a more formal path as well. Walk through the gap in the chalk cliffs to get to Botany Bay when the tide is out – bear in mind that the beach is cut off at both ends when the tide is in.

Vibe: Adventurous

Canine control: None - Dogs allowed all year round!

Lifeguard: No

In addition: Nearby café and pub, parking, beach hut hire.

We have a lovely collection of cottages within striking distance of a beach. Take a look here to find the perfect pooch pad for your next holiday.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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