If you are looking for a holiday that involves your four legged family members, then Exmoor is a great choice. You will find hundreds of miles of footpaths running through the National Park and along the coast making it easy to explore this vast and varying landscape. Immerse yourself in a bit of history, ride the West Somerset Railway, enjoy some stunning National Trust properties, take a dip in the sea at one of Exmoor’s beautiful beaches and finish the day off at one of the dog friendly pubs or cafes.
Here are some of the best dog-friendly attractions in and around Exmoor.
Tarr Steps across the River Barle
If you are looking for a tranquil and historical day out in Exmoor you should take a trip to the Tarr Steps. This medieval bridge spans the 55 foot River Barle with 180 foot of flat stone, thought to be crafted around 1,000BC. The Tarr Steps truly are a sight to behold and dogs will thoroughly enjoy an off-lead run across the steps and along the river.
Families will also find plenty of things to love about Tarr Steps Woodland National Nature Reserve, which is packed with a wide variety of wildlife from otters to red deer and even the rare Barbastelle Bat. Once you’ve explored the diverse landscape and woodlands you can investigate the nearby burial mounds of Bronze Age men, dating back 5,000 years.
Tarr Steps really does appeal to everyone, from historians to young children and dogs. There are well marked footpaths along the valley, a circular walk from the car park across the river, and facilities such as disabled parking, toilets and refreshments.
West Somerset Railway
Even if the skies begin to cloud over in Exmoor, there’s still plenty of things to see and do when the weather isn’t on your side. Taking a ride on the West Somerset Railway, which runs all the way from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, is an excellent way to revel in the beautiful landscapes. Enjoy a leisurely trip through the Exmoor moorlands, and if the weather brightens up choose one of the many stops to get off and explore. As the trains are dog friendly, the whole family can come along for the ride too!
Washford is one of the closest stations to the Exmoor National Park. Here you can visit Cleeve Abbey, a peaceful English Heritage site that is packed full of history. Alternatively any Cider lovers should visit the Torre Cider Farm. Learn how real Somerset cider is made, whilst trying out some of the produce.
The train also stops at the quiet seaside village of Blue Anchor which has a long sand and pebble beach that is perfect for families and is dog-friendly all year round.
There are plenty of other places to visit whilst taking a trip on the railway, so check out their website for a full map and timetable.
Dunster Castle has to be on your bucket list when visiting Exmoor. This ancient castle, nestled on a wooded hill and surrounded by breathtaking grounds, is a truly impressive sight. Whilst dogs are not allowed inside the castle itself, once you have finished nosing through the lavish rooms, your four legged friend is welcome to join you to explore the extensive grounds. There is a restored 18th century watermill, a gentle river, wooded pathways, Mediterranean gardens and a whole host of wildlife to spot. Walking through the gardens is a peaceful and relaxing way to spend a day in Exmoor.
When you have finished at the castle pop into Dunster’s picturesque medieval village where you will find everything from gift shops to tea rooms and dog-friendly pubs with beautiful beer gardens like the Luttrell Arms Hotel . End the day at nearby Dunster beach which is dog-friendly all year round and a great place to let your dog off-lead for a good run.
A day on the beach
Exmoor has more than its fair share of beautiful beaches. As well as Dunster and Blue Anchor you will find plenty of dog friendly beaches to enjoy some seaside fun all year round.
Lee Bay, near Lynton, is a wonderfully secluded beach that is surrounded by stunning countryside. The village of Lee is well-known for its plethora of awe-inspiring local walks which take you across the bay, into the countryside and through the heavily wooded areas.
Visit Lynton and take your dog along North Walk to visit the Valley of Rocks where the wild goats graze. Afterwards visit the pretty harbour town of Lynmouth via the dog-friendly Victorian Cliff Railway. Check out the gorgeous Lynmouth beach which is known for rock-pooling and surfing. Taking the train is a great way to experience the breathtaking views, whist allowing you to enjoy both Lynton and Lynmouth in a day.
Finally, Porlock has a lovely beach and is another dog-friendly area that has some great walking routes. Take the leisurely 4.1 mile circular walk where you will pass through stunning woodland, marshy pastures and Porlock beach and Weir.
Explore Heddon Valley
Heddon Valley, our final dog-friendly attraction in Exmoor, will quite simply take your breath away. This National Trust site consists of heady cliffs, beautiful coves and a lush wooded valley. You can explore the area under your own steam or take your family along the Heddon’s Mouth Circular Walk. This mapped out walk includes the dog-friendly beach, a fantastic array of wildlife and even a pub for refreshments.
There’s so much to see and do at Heddon Valley that we recommend taking a whole day to explore the area. You can enjoy one of the several woodland walks, grab one of the best ice creams in the West at the Heddon Valley Shop or have a picnic on the beach while your dog plays in the water. Dogs are encouraged at Heddon Valley, although the National Trust ask that they be kept on leads across any farmed land and moorland. The whole family, including your pets, will absolutely adore everything Heddon Valley has to offer.
Exmoor is a fantastic spot to have a holiday. We’re willing to bet that both you and your dog will be fully rested and relaxed by the time you get back home. If you are looking for further inspiration of things to do please read our Exmoor Guide. We also have a great selection of pet-friendly accommodation in Exmoor and the rest of the South West and UK.