The Cotswolds is incredibly dog friendly which is hardly surprising considering it is one of England’s most rural regions. A vast outdoor playground with miles of tracks, trails and footpaths across its rolling countryside, this beautiful region is a walkers paradise and an ideal holiday destination for dog owners. Peppered with honey-coloured villages and ancient market towns, there are plenty of fascinating places for you and your dog to visit and explore. Browse the historic streets and alleyways lined with independent shops; enjoy lunch in one of the dog-friendly gastro pubs the Cotswolds is so famed for; enjoy a picnic by the river on a sunny day; visit one of the many stately homes and gardens or enjoy a fun family day out at one of the dog-friendly attractions. To help you and your dog get the most out of your stay in the Cotswolds, we have put together some great doggie days out.
Sherborne Park Estate – Found near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, the Sherborne Park Estate is a perfect place to take your canine friend for a day in the country. A working estate that has a wide variety of wildlife and vast open spaces for both you and your dog to enjoy, Sherborne has 3 main walking routes that provide a relaxing but entertaining trek. The Family Fun Walk in particular is great if you have kids. The lodge which is present on the estate is said to be one of the most haunted in the area with sightings of the original inhabitant John ‘Crump’ Dutton on several occasions. The park is open until dusk and there is certainly are eerie feeling about the place as the light goes down!
Spend a day in and around Stow – Possibly the most attractive market town of them all, Stow-on-the-wold is the highest point in the Cotswolds, making all the walks from it a pleasant down-hill affair (but up-hill on the way back!). Surrounded by beautiful countryside, this ancient market town offers great independent shops to browse, a vast choice of places for a meal out (The Queens Head, Old Butchers, Porch House, The Old Stocks and The Bell to name just a few welcoming dogs) and lots of lovely walks to nearby Cotswolds villages. For a shorter walk, Stretch your legs along the track to the little hamlet of Maugersbury (twenty minute amble so perfect for older dogs); or walk along the Monarch’s Way past the ancient wells to the pretty village of Broadwell (apx half an hour) with a pub (The Fox welcomes dogs!) for refreshments and green where you can spread a blanket beside the little stream. For those looking for something a little more challenging, walk from Stow via Hyde Mill across the fields to Lower slaughter (apx an hour and a quarter), where there is The Slaughters Country Inn with riverside terrace for refreshment (or try an ice cream at The Old Mill). From here you can walk along the river to Upper Slaughter (twenty minutes); or head in the other direction and walk from Lower Slaughter to Bourton-on-the-Water (approximately forty minutes). Buses do run from Bourton to Stow if the walk back up hill is too much!).
Woodchester Park – A secluded and enchanted wooden valley near Stroud, Woodchester Park is a haven for dog owners who want a taste of nature and to give their pets some exercise. There are 3 well marked walks that range from 2 to 7 miles long and the 5 lakes that can be found in the area offer a tranquil setting and a chance to see some carp in their peaceful waters. An interesting building is an old Victorian mansion that was never completed and left in 1873. For kids (and adventurous adults too) there is a free play trail and with acres of woods and open space the park is a dogs dream.
Birdland Park and Gardens – Combining native and exotic birdlife, Birdland Park and Gardens is a fantastic place to take the whole family on a day out. Found in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswold’s, the park is home to over 50 aviaries as well as woodland and parkland. With some 500 exotic birds including penguins, flamingos, pelicans, owls and cheeky parrots, there are plenty of feathered delights to encounter. Dogs are only restricted in the aviaries and the café and there is extensive space to have a family picnic too if the weather suits! The park and gardens are open all year and are great to visit in every season with activities to suit all weather conditions. When you visit Birdland, make sure you leave a couple of hours to explore Bourton-on-the-Water, one of the Cotswolds’ most popular villages with a great choice of shops and dog-friendly places for a meal or snack.
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens – A tourist attraction that you wouldn’t think would be particularly dog friendly is the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. Set within 160 acres on the outskirts of Burford, Oxfordshire the park and gardens allow you to bring your dog as long as you keep it on a lead and they aren’t allowed (sensibly) into the areas with free roaming animals or bird enclosures (but there’s still plenty to see!). With Rhino, wolves and lions, it is certainly an opportunity to show your dog something new and introduce them to animals they aren’t going to see out on their daily walk! Great attractions for the whole family (including your four legged members!) can be hard to find and the Cotswold Wildlife Park certainly offers one that is likely to be a holiday highlight.
Batsford Arboretum – Also found in Gloucestershire, near to Moreton-in-Marsh is Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre. Open throughout the year it is a great place for families with good deals on family entrance tickets. With 56 acres and being home to the biggest private tree collection in the whole of the UK (including a spectacular large handkerchief tree),the Arboretum can trace its roots back to the 17th century. Dogs can come into both the Arboretum and the visitors centre with the only stipulation being that they are kept on a lead. Batsford Arboretum is a great day out for the whole family with plenty of wooded plants, beautiful vistas, a lake and interesting curiosities such as the oriental resting house and the bronze Buddha. There is a cafe for refreshments and a garden shop to browse selling gifts and plants. A wonderful tranquil place for you and your dog to relax, walk and enjoy a picnic.
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway – Our final dog friendly day out is a little different. Dogs love the great outdoors but many also love travelling. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which consists of a 25 mile round trip through the beautiful rolling Cotswold countryside, is one of the best ways for you (and your dog) to explore the great outdoors in a leisurely fashion. There is a large element of nostalgia with the steam train that rolls through the seemingly endless countryside, dotted with little villages and towns that make this part of the world so enticing. Your dog is welcome on board to sit and look out at the majestic views and this is a day out that can be enjoyed by everyone from families to individuals with their pets. Keep your eye out for Tewkesbury Abbey that can be seen when you are leaving Gotherington as the 1000 year old building cuts an imposing figure on the horizon.
With so much beautiful countryside and so many fantastic dog-friendly attractions, the Cotswolds is a very good choice of holiday destination for dog owners at any time of the year. Why not take a look at our great selection of dog-friendly cottages with many that take 2 or more dogs. We can also make plenty more suggestions for things to do in the Cotswolds.