The Lake District is one of Britain’s treasures. Its stunning scenery ranges from chilled to challenging, offering something for each of the 15.8 million tourists who visit it each year. The good news is that you don’t have to leave your four-legged friends behind because there are so many dog friendly activities and places to visit in the Lake District, including these unforgettable days out.
Conveniently sited between Lakes Coniston and Windermere, Grizedale Forest is a brilliant choice for a walk with your dogs. A variety of walking trails cater for all abilities, with friendly staff on hand in the information centre to help you plan your route. Nearly forty sculptures have been specifically created for the forest, adding to the beauty and intrigue of the trails. There is also a café that will welcome you and your dog (providing it is on a lead).
Windermere Lake Cruises
As the Lake District’s largest lake, a Windermere Lake Cruise is certainly worth the time. The view from the water really highlights the breathtaking majesty of the lake’s surrounding peaks. Their ‘Bus & Boat’ and ‘Freedom of the Lake’ tickets offer fantastic value and flexibility, letting you see the lake and lakeside attractions exactly the way you want to, and there is no extra charge for travelling with dogs.
Rydal Mount and Gardens
No one has done as much to promote the Lake District as a holiday destination than William Wordsworth. Born in Cockermouth, the former Poet Laureate spent the last 37 years of his life at Rydal Mount in Ambleside, which provided inspiration for poems like The Daffodils and To a Snowdrop. The house and gardens are open all year round though times are restricted during winter. Dogs aren’t allowed in the house but are welcome in the grounds if on a lead.
Home to the Pennington family since 1208, Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass is both fun and informative. Explore the castle and grounds and learn not only about the people who lived there, but about the ghosts who reside there still! There’s an interesting programme of events throughout the year including teddy bears picnics, ghost vigils, musicals, and Christmas fairs. Dogs on leads are welcome in the gardens and the Owl Centre.
One of the best ways to explore the lakes and admire the scenery is from the water. Coniston Launch offers both scheduled cruises and hop-on-hop-off tickets and make well-behaved dogs welcome for a small cost. Just behind the jetty is the popular Bluebird Café where you can tuck into a delicious menu created from seasonal, regional produce. It is dog friendly and the ideal spot to indulge your appetite.
Cumbria may be best known for its lakes, but it’s also home to amazing beaches and clean, if chilly, waters. St Bees is a pretty village a few short miles west of the Lake District National Park. Explore the historic village with Norman priory and promenade, then head for the sand and let your dog run around until its shaggy heart is content. Dogs are welcome in St Bees village and on the beach, though there are some restrictions regarding leads (not on the sands where dogs can run free providing owners clear up any mess!). Nearby dog-friendly beaches include Whitehaven and Nethertown; while if you’re in the south of the Lake District, the beaches at Bardsea and Askam-in-Furness are popular with dog owners. No holiday is complete without a good run on the beach!
Nenthead may feel like a sleepy village now, but it was once a busy hub of lead and silver mining. You can learn about the history of the mines and Nenthead – England’s highest village – at the Nenthead Mines Heritage Centre near Alston. While dogs are not allowed to go underground, they won’t be bored with paths traversing more than 200 acres of woodland and moorland to snuffle and romp their way around.
Aira Force Waterfall
The Lake District gets its fair share of rain but all that water only enhances the appeal of Aira Force Waterfall near Ullswater. Take a picnic and enjoy a walk along clearly marked paths to the waterfall. The National Trust managed site allows dogs on leads, so bring them with you as you enjoy the sort of scenery the area is famous for. There’s enough to keep even the liveliest pooch happy, but if you fancy a change of view, the dog-friendly gardens and tea-room of 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.
Cumberland Pencil Museum
Have you ever fancied seeing the world’s longest colour pencil? You can make your dreams come true at the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick. The history of the humble pencil is surprisingly interesting and well behaved dogs are allowed inside as well as out. The museum is not a full day out but it’s a different way to spend an hour or two, especially if the weather is wet and there are no shortage of other attractions in Keswick to visit whilst there.
One of the biggest pleasures of a trip to the Lake District is dining at some of the area’s superb pubs and restaurants. Many of the traditional inns throughout the Lakes are incredibly dog-friendly, serving traditional local fare with a log fire for your dog to warm his paws in front of after a long walk. Keswick and the surrounding area has numerous dog-friendly places to eat, including Booths Café, Java Chocolate, and Sweeny’s Bar in the town centre; and the Swinside Inn, Pack Horse Inn, and Lakeside Tea Gardens nearby. Heidi’s Café and Baldry’s Tea Room are two dog friendly eateries in Grasmere; while in the south the Pooley Bridge Inn in Ullswater provides dog treats and water bowls to make their canine guests feel welcome. These are just a few of the many pubs, restaurants and cafes that welcome dogs in the Lakes.
Dog Walking in the Lake District
To keep the national park pristine and enjoyable for all walkers there are rules and guidelines responsible dog owners should follow. Dogs don’t always have to be on a lead, but should always be kept under control, especially when around livestock. The national park is a haven for all types of wildlife and there are lots of intriguing scents which can send a less disciplined dog tearing off in pursuit. This is a particular issue between March and July when ground nesting birds are hatching and rearing their chicks. Take a look at our useful tips to help keep your dog stay safe on holiday.
Make sure you clear up any mess your dog makes out on a walk and please make sure poo bags are disposed of correctly and not left hanging from trees or hidden in bushes. If you are out on a long walk, it is likely you may need to carry poo bags for some distance before you find a bin so take provision to double bag or contain them whilst carrying.
Get a good map of trails in the area (local information centres and libraries can provide one) so you know where there may be cyclists and horse riders around. Be aware of ticks and adders – rare but hazardous and take advantage of the many dog friendly pubs who will happily provide your dog with water while you enjoy a reviving drink of your own.
With the right choice of dog-friendly accommodation in the Lake District, you and your four-legged family members can have a fantastic time. Self-catering is great choice for dog owners as you have plenty of space and privacy to relax at the end of the day. Why not take a look at our selection of dog-friendly accommodation – whether you have one or a number of dogs, we can help you find your ideal cottage.