Devon is renowned for giving a warm West Country welcome to all its visitors, whether on two legs or four. There’s no need to leave your dog at home while you take a holiday because there are loads of dog-friendly attractions in Devon, along with a great choice of dog-friendly accommodation.
Many dog owners visit Devon just for the wonderful walks alone. One day you and your dog can be fossil hunting on the Jurassic coastline; the next bracing the elements on Dartmoor (to discover more about Dartmoor click here); hiking through the heather on Exmoor (take a look at our dog-friendly attractions on Exmoor) or spotting wildlife in the tranquil valleys of the South Hams. Explore Devon’s pretty thatched villages then enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the many dog-friendly pubs or treat the kids to a day trip out at one of Devon’s tourist attractions that allow dogs. The choices are endless so let us give you a few ideas.
Dog Friendly Beaches
Devon’s incredible coastline is one of its biggest draws. There are numerous beaches which allow dogs all year around.
- Strete Gate Beach – popular with canoeists and windsurfers, Strete Gate Beach is a fine shingle beach near Dartmouth in South Devon.
- Salcombe North Sands – a small beach handy for a morning or evening walk if you’re staying in or near Salcombe town. Check the tide times as it is underwater at high tide.
- Beesands Beach – close to the market town of Kingsbridge, Beesands is a mile of soft shingle. It’s a good surfing beach and has a Blue Flag award for cleanliness. There’s a free car park and a café and shop, making it a top spot for a day out.
- Anstey’s Cove close to Torquay offers a peaceful place to escape the crowds with direct access onto the coastal path, allowing you to combine relaxation with a good walk. There is also a cafe on the beach for refreshments and shop.
- Sitting between Slapton and Blackpool Sands, Landcombe Cove is another great choice for dog owners. You have a fairly steep descent to reach the pretty little sand and shingle beach but it is worthwhile as the climb down deterrs crowds and children. Often visited by passing boats who moor up in the bay, Landcombe has a Mediterranean feel and when you get tired of relaxing, you can venture off to explore the coastal path that passes by. There are no facilities on this beach so make sure you bring your picnic and water for the 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), and Torcross (sand and shingle).
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 you busy for an entire day if that’s what you’re after. 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. There are no dog waste bins on the path so you’ll need to be considerate about where your dog does its business and make sure you take your waste bags away with you.
Becky Falls is a very family friendly attraction with a quiz trail, all sorts of animals including guinea pigs and Shetland ponies and a café and picnic areas.
Once part of a busy railway, The Tarka Trail has been created from 30 miles of disused tracks that run through some of the most picturesque Devonian countryside you’re likely to experience. Follow the Devon Coast to Coast NCN27 cycle trail or pick up a map from Braunton Tourist Information Centre. Tarka Trail Hire is next to Barnsataple Train Station and hires both bikes, trikes, tagalongs and trailers for dogs with tired legs. Torrington Cycle Hire is further down the track by Great Torrington. The Tarka Trail is named after the classic tale of Tarka the Otter. It runs beside the River Torridge, much of which inspired Henry Williamson to write the book and which remains relatively unchanged.
Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum
Another attraction local to Barnstaple is Arlington Court. It’s a beautiful Regency House with gorgeous gardens to explore, along with the work of several generations of a family of collectors. 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-esque 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.
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, then take your dog for a walk over the cliffs on the South West Coastal Path to the picturesque village of Branscombe. A delight to visit with its pretty thatched cottages clustered with flowers, excellent pub, shingle beach and ancient church of St Winifred’s (one of Devon’s oldest dating back as far as possibly 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 dogs (providing they are well behaved, child friendly and kept on a lead). There are masses of things to see and do both indoors and out. Whilst dogs are restricted from the shows, rides, play areas and bird of prey centres, there are lovely walks through acres of countryside on each side of the park. The Cosmic Typhoon is Devon’s longest rollercoaster (no fighting over who sits out and walks the dog while the rest of the family experience the thrill!), there’s a massive bouncy pillow, a dedicated play area for babies and young children, an indoor assault course that’s big enough for adults, and so much more to keep all family members entertained. It’s open daily from the end of March to early November, is close to both Bideford and Barnstaple and accessible by public transport, though it’s up to the bus driver whether they will allow pets on board!
You treat your dog as one of the family for the rest of the year so don’t leave them out when you visit Devon. Between beaches, country parks and indoor attractions, you can all have a great time without the added expense of a kennel, or the guilt that you’ve left your family friend behind.