Devon is renowned for giving a warm West Country welcome to all its visitors, whether on two legs or four. Many dog owners visit Devon just for the wonderful walks alone. Try fossil hunting on the Jurassic coastline, brace the elements on Dartmoor, hike through the heather on Exmoor or spot the wildlife in the tranquil valleys of the South Hams. Alternatively, explore Devon’s pretty thatched villages before enjoying a leisurely lunch in one of the many dog-friendly pubs. If you are looking for days out to keep the kids entertained too, there are numerous family and dog friendly attractions to keep everyone happy. The choices are endless, but we have narrowed it down to our top 8 dog friendly days out in Devon.
Dog friendly beaches
- Devon’s incredible coastline is one of its biggest draws. There are numerous beaches that allow dogs all year around.
- Strete Gate beach, near Dartmouth, is a fine shingle beach which is popular with canoeists and windsurfers. There is a picnic area and it is a great spot for a swim.
- Salcombe North Sands is a large sandy beach which is great for swimming and rockpools. It is a lovely spot for a morning or evening walk if you’re staying in or near Salcombe town, but check the tide times as it is underwater at high tide.
- Anstey’s Cove, near Torquay, is a small and quiet shingle beach nestled between high cliffs and a wooded hillside. It has direct access onto the coastal path making it a perfect spot for a walk. There is a cafe and shop on the beach.
- Landcombe Cove, hiding between Slapton and Blackpool Sands, is another great beach to escape the summer crowds. There is a steep and challenging descent to reach this pretty beach, but you will be rewarded with a secluded bay backed by high cliffs. The passing boats that often moor up in the bay gives it a Mediterranean feel. When you get tired of relaxing you can venture off to explore the coastal path. There are no facilities on this beach so make sure you bring your picnic and water for your dog.
- Other year round dog friendly beaches in Devon include Clovelly near Bideford (pebble), Saunton Sands (sandy), Welcombe Mouth near Bude (sand), Slapton Sands (sand and shingle), Torcross (sand and shingle) and Hele Bay near Ilfracombe (sand).
Walking on Exmoor
With over 1000 kilometres of footpaths through open heather, woodlands, rivers and the coast, Exmoor National Park is a walker’s paradise. There are numerous dog friendly pubs and cafes perfect for refuelling after a long walk. The Black Venus Inn in Challacombe is one of many great bases to start a circular walk. With a beer garden, kids play area and refreshments specially selected for dogs everyone is welcome here!
Becky Falls Woodland Park
Thousands of people witness the beauty of Becky Falls every year. It’s not far from Newton Abbot and has enough to keep the entire family busy for a day with a quiz trail, a variety of animals including guinea pigs and Shetland ponies and a café and picnic areas.
The falls themselves are very impressive and there are several graded walks taking you around the falls and the ancient woodland surrounding them. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads at all times.
The Tarka Trail, named after the classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’, is a 180 mile walking and cycling route traversing some of the most picturesque Devon countryside. Passing through Okehampton and Sticklepath in the south and Illfracombe and Lynton on the north Devon coast the route includes rugged moorland, stunning coastlines, wooded river valleys and peaceful countryside. There are numerous cycling routes along the trail but perhaps the most popular is the 30 mile traffic free path between Braunton and Meeth on a disused railway line.
Tarka Trail Cycle Hire, next to Barnstaple train station, hires both bikes, trikes, tagalongs and trailers for dogs with tired legs. Torrington Cycle Hire is further down the track by Great Torrington.
Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum
Another attraction local to Barnstaple is Arlington Court and the National Carridge Museum. This beautiful Regency House not only has gorgeous gardens to explore, but there is also a range of interesting exhibits collected over several generations by the Chichester family. It’s managed by the National Trust and dogs are welcome in the gardens and the carriage museum. There are acres of grounds for them to snuffle and romp their way through, along with cooling streams to splash in and drink from. The carriage museum is a real treat where you can indulge in a Jane Austen daydream of being driven by horse and carriage.
Dartmouth River Cruise
So much attention is given to Devon’s awesome beaches that it can be easy to forget the region’s magnificent rivers. Dartmouth River Boat Company allows well behaved dogs aboard their boat trips as long as they are kept on leads. The paddle steamer is the last operational coal powered steamer in the UK and a fantastic way to see the River Dart. Add to the ambiance with a journey on a real steam train which runs between Paignton and Kingswear along the English Riviera Geopark coast line. You don’t have to be a train buff to appreciate the beauty of the landscape as you pass through Goodrington and Churston. If you book on the popular ‘Round Robin’ trip there is even a bus – also dog friendly – to take you back to your starting point!
Smugglers and Pirates Experience
Once something respectable Devonians denied, Devon’s smuggler and pirate history is now something to be celebrated and where better to celebrate than in the village of Beer. The birthplace of Jack Rattenbury, Devon’s most famous smuggler, Beer still has nautical activities at its heart with a fishing fleet that has been working the waters for centuries.
Browse the galleries and shops, enjoy a crab sandwich and a pint, and take your dog for a walk over the cliffs on the South West Coastal Path to the picturesque village of Branscombe. Here you will find pretty thatched cottages clustered with flowers, an excellent pub, shingle beach and an ancient church of St Winifred’s dating back as far as 995.
The Milky Way Adventure Park
The Milky Way Adventure Park promises a fun day out for the entire family and it is one of the few family oriented adventure parks in the area that allows well behaved dogs on leads. There are masses of things to see and do both indoors and out, including shows, rides, play areas, sports, craft sessions and bird of prey centres. As well as the Cosmic Typhoon, Devon’s longest rollercoaster, you will find a massive bouncy pillow, a dedicated play area for babies and young children, and an indoor assault course that’s big enough for adults. There are also some lovely walks through acres of countryside on each side of the park. The Milky Way is open daily from the end of March to early November. It is close to both Bideford and Barnstaple and accessible by public transport – although it’s up to the bus driver whether they will allow pets on board!
If you are planning a holiday in Devon there is no need to leave your dog at home. The dog friendly beaches, country parks, walks and attractions and a huge choice of pet-friendly holiday cottages means that your four legged friends can have a holiday too! From large family houses to cosy romantic cottages, we have something to suit everyone!