The Lake District is one of Britain’s finest treasures. The combination of the breath-taking mountains and beautiful lakes makes it the perfect spot to either unwind and relax in the stunning scenery or challenge yourself to an adventure. Climb to the summit of the highest peak in England. Take a leisurely stroll through ancient forests. Hire a boat, go for a swim or enjoy a riverside picnic. Visit historic villages, explore fascinating castles and admire beautiful gardens. The list of walks, activities and attractions in this beautiful National Park is endless. Whatever you decide to do, the huge number of dog friendly attractions in the Lake District means that your four-legged friends can join you.
Dog walking in the Lakes
Whether you are looking for awe-inspiring mountains, ancient forests or picturesque wooded shorelines, the Lake District is a dog walker’s paradise. Any mountain goats amongst you will love the challenge of reaching the summit of Scarfell Pike. Whilst hiking to the top of the tallest peak in England is no mean fit, it is perfectly doable for any fit dogs who are used to long walks and hill climbs. Alternatively, enjoy the dramatic scenery on a walk to the top of Stickle Tarn near Langdale. You will be rewarded with impressive waterfalls and rockpools and stunning views across the valley. On a warm day you can enjoy cooling your feet off in the small mountain lake at the summit. There are also numerous easier mountain trails for anyone who enjoys spending time in the hills but is looking for something a bit less strenuous. The easy trail around Blea Tarn is perfect to get everyone of all ages and abilities out into the fells.
If you are looking for something equally as beautiful, but with a bit less ‘up’, you can explore one of the many enchanting forests or enjoy a gentle riverside stroll. With ten different walking trails, unique sculptures to spot and breath-taking views to admire, the Grizedale Forest is a fantastic place to take your dog for a walk. You can even try your hand at swinging through the trees on the Go Ape course, riding through the forest on a Forest Segway or hiring a bike. Make a day of it and either take a picnic or have lunch in the dog friendly café. Alternatively, backed by dramatic mountains and pretty villages both Lake Coniston and Lake Windermere are the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll. On a warm summers day you and your dog might even be tempted to have a quick dip!
It is worth noting that there are a few rules and guidelines that all responsible dog owners should adhere to whilst walking in the Lake District. In particular, please do remember that whilst dogs don’t always have to be on a lead, they should always be kept under control, especially when around livestock. Even the best-behaved dogs might be tempted by the large number of intriguing scents that they are likely to find amongst the wildlife in the National Park. You might find it helpful to look at our useful tips on how to help keep your dog safe and happy whilst on holiday.
Go on a lake cruise
The Lake District is a perfect holiday destination for any dogs who love water and no trip would be complete without going on a lake cruise. At Windermere Lake Cruises both you and your dog can enjoy the breath-taking views of the majestic peaks from Lake Windermere. Both the Bus and Boat and Freedom of the Lake tickets allows you to hop on and off the boat to see the lake and lakeside attractions exactly the way you want to. Enjoy exploring the informal grounds at the National Trust’s Wray Castle or continue your trip around the lake on board an historic steam train at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. If you want to combine your time on the water with a gentle stroll the Walkers Ticket allows you to stretch your legs across the western shore of the lake before boarding a boat to take you back to your starting point.
Coniston Launch also offers scheduled cruises and hop-on-hop-off tickets. You can combine a boat trip with a walk around the shores of Coniston Water or sail to the historic house, museum and gardens at the home of John Ruskin at Brantwood. Kids can enjoy the range of activities and quizzes and dogs will love a walk in the mountainside gardens and 250 acre wooded estate. From low level walks through lakeshore meadows to energetic hikes to the top of Crag Head there is plenty to keep all two and four legged members of your family entertained. Just behind Coniston jetty you will find the popular Bluebird Café where you can tuck into a delicious menu created from seasonal and regional produce. It is dog friendly and the ideal spot to indulge your appetite.
Visit a castle
You and your dog will love a trip to Muncaster Castle and Gardens. Located in an idyllic setting near Ravenglass, a trip to this historic haunted castle is a fascinating and fun day out. Learn about the history of the Pennington family as well as the tales of the infamous ghosts who still likes to haunt this Cumbrian castle. There is an interesting programme of events throughout the year including teddy bears picnics, ghost vigils, musicals and Christmas fairs. Dogs are welcome to join you for a walk in the 77 acres of wild woodland and Himalayan gardens.
A trip to Lowther Castle and Gardens also makes a fantastic family and dog friendly day out. The dramatic ruins, 130 acre estate and huge adventure playground at the Lost Castle is sure to keep everyone happy. The beautiful parkland at Furness Abbey near Barrow in Furness is also a great place for a gentle stroll. Whilst it is not quite a castle, it is a fascinating spot for anyone interested in history whilst also allowing your four-legged friends to stretch their legs. English Heritage have recently uncovered a number of medieval treasures which are now on display. Enjoy a picnic on a warm sunny day or head to the dog friendly Abbey Mill Coffee Shop for afternoon tea or an ice cream.
Cumbria may be best known for its lakes, but it is also home to amazing beaches and beautiful clean seas. St Bees is a pretty historic village a few miles west of the Lake District National Park. Explore the Norman priory and promenade before heading to the long sandy dog friendly beach. With no dog restrictions all year round this is the perfect spot to let your four-legged friends really stretch their legs or splash about in the sea. After all, no holiday is complete without a good run on the beach!
The rocky promontory at St Bees Head is the start of the Coast to Coast walk, or if you are looking for an exhilarating cliff top walk you can head north towards the Georgian seaside town of Whitehaven. On a clear day you will be rewarded with views as far as the hills of Dumfries and it is possible to spot terns, guillemots and puffins on the way. Whitehaven also has a dog friendly beach. If you are lucky you might find a fossil in the shingle on the shoreline.
If you head south from St Bees you will find another dog friendly beach and grassy dunes at Nethertown. A bit further south the beaches at Bardsea and Askam-in-Furness are also popular with dog owners.
Aira Force Waterfall
The waterfall at the National Trust’s Aira Force near Ullswater is another stunning spot for a dog friendly family day out in the Lake District. Watching the water crash 65 foot over the falls at Aira Beck is a truly impressive site, especially if it has been raining! The walk up to the waterfall is perfect for a leisurely family stroll. But there is more to Aira Force than just a waterfall. Kids can become a detective for the day on the Cycril red squirrel walk or you can explore the network of trails that will take you from Ullswater all the way to the summit of Gowbarrow. Once you return to the shores of Ullswater you can enjoy a picnic by the lake, or any brave souls can go for a swim or a paddle in the shallow waters.
If you are staying near Glenridding the most scenic way to get to Aira Force is across the water with Ullswater Steamers. At the end of the day you can stroll back to Glenridding either through Glencoyne Park or along the shore of the lake. Ullswater is relatively underdeveloped compared to other areas of the Lake District which makes this beautiful valley feel particularly peaceful and secluded. If you fancy a change of view, the dog-friendly gardens and tea-room at Acorn Bank are a short drive away in Temple Sowerby.
Aira Force is only one of the wonderful waterfalls you and your dog can visit in the Lakes. Hidden away in a deep tree-lined gorge, Scale Force is also well worth the short climb from the pretty village of Buttermere. Falling over 170 foot this impressive waterfall is the highest in the Lake District. If you are looking for a longer walk you can include a circuit of Crummock Water.
Alternatively, enjoy a beautiful walk around Rydal Water near Ambleside where you will pass the very pretty Rydal Falls and infamous ‘Grot’. This 18th century summerhouse, which was originally designed for viewing the waterfalls, is one of the most famous landmarks in the Lake District. The waterfalls, Grot and stunning surrounding area at Rydal Falls has inspired poets and artists for centuries. Just a short distance away you will find Rydal Mount, the home of poet William Wandsworth. Whilst dogs aren’t allowed in the house they are welcome to explore the 5 acre garden with you. Any wild swimming fans shouldn’t miss the opportunity to go for a dip in Rydal Water before ending the day with a cream tea or pint of local ale at the dog friendly Badger Bar.
Do something a bit different
Have you ever fancied seeing the world’s longest colour pencil? You can make your dreams come true at the home of the first ever pencil at the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick. Enter the museum through a replica graphite mine as you follow the journey of the pencil industry. Be wowed by the secret WW2 pencils with hidden maps, enjoy an art class or browse the fine art shop. Your four-legged friends are welcome to join you on your pencil adventure!
The museum is not a full day out so you could spend the rest of your day exploring the beautiful Derwentwater. There are plenty of stunning walks to choose from, including a scenic 10 mile walk around the whole lake. However, arguably the best way to explore the water is to jump onboard the Keswick Launch. Dogs are welcome too! Alternatively, garden lovers and Beatrix Potter fans will love The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden located near the shores of Derwentwater. Beatrix Potter spent many of her holidays here and the impressive walled garden was the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s infamous vegetable plot in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. If you are really looking to indulge yourself book an afternoon tea at Lingholm Kitchen.
Anyone looking for an adventure should head to West Lakes Adventure in the Eskdale Valley where your four-legged friends can join you on a variety of exciting activities. They even have buoyancy aids specifically for dogs so they can join you for a trip down the lake in a canoe! If you are looking for something a bit less wobbly, dogs are also welcome on board the steam trains at The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Hop on and off the train at any of the seven request stops to enjoy some of the most scenic walking trails in the Lake District. It is also a lovely walk from Ravenglass Station to Muncaster Castle.
Dog friendly places to eat
There is more to the Lake District than stunning scenery and fabulous walks. It is also well known for its’ gastronomical experiences. Whether you are looking for a cosy pub to refuel after a walk or a riverside café to soak up the views, there are a huge number of fantastic dog friendly pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from. The list is endless but there are a couple that deserve a mention.
The Dog and Gun in Keswick is the perfect spot to rest those wearing paws after a day in the fells. Enjoy a roaring fire in the winter, a selection of local ales and hearty food. The Hungarian goulash is highly recommended and your four-legged friends can enjoy their own doggie menu. If you are just after a snack, the coffee and cake at the dog friendly Java Chocolate is seriously good. If you are looking for a pub with a view, The Drunken Duck perched on the hills near Ambleside or the National Trust Sticklebarn near Langdale are both the perfect spot to enjoy a pint. If you are after a lake-side view you can’t beat The Wateredge Inn on Lake Windermere. In the summer treat yourself to a prosecco cocktail on the lakeside terrace or if it’s chilly warm up with a mulled wine next to the roaring fire. With a lunch, diner and afternoon menu, you and your dog could settle in here for the whole day!
Dog friendly places to stay in the Lake District
After a long day exploring, you and your four-legged friends will need somewhere comfortable to rest your wearing limbs and plan the next days’ adventures. Whether you are looking for a cosy bolt hole for two with a roaring fire and walks from the door, or a large family pad within walking distance to the village pub, our fantastic selection dog friendly cottages in the Lake District is bound to get those tails wagging. With cottages to rent near the stunning lakes of Windermere, Coniston and Ullswater as well as the picturesque towns of Keswick, Ambleside and Ravenglass, you can enjoy walking across the fells, strolling around lakes, hiking up mountains or simply pottering around the pretty villages. Wherever you decide to stay, it’s time to dust off those walking boots and start planning your next adventure to this breath-takingly beautiful corner of the country.