It’s hard not to fall in love with Somerset. The lush rolling pastures, traditional villages and towns and geographical marvels such as the Cheddar Gorge have been inspiring artists and poets for hundreds of years. The Mendip, Quantock, and Blackdown Hills – all of which are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – are fantastic walking spots. Or if you are looking for rugged moorland, dramatic coastlines or wooded valleys visit Exmoor National Park. With such a huge variety of beautiful countryside you definitely need to bring your walking boots and your four-legged companion when you come on holiday here!
Whilst many villages in Somerset feel remote and peaceful, the easy access from the M5 makes it a relatively straightforward journey for many of us. Walk out of the office on a Friday evening and arrive at your country escape well in time for last orders.
For a seemingly quiet and rural county Somerset has a huge array of attractions that keep visitors entertained all year round. Whilst the world-famous Glastonbury Festival is not a dog-friendly event, the market town of Glastonbury itself is definitely worth a visit. Set in 36 acres of parkland, Glastonbury Abbey is a lovely spot for a family day out with the dog. With duck and fish ponds, picnic and wildlife areas, a cider orchard and a busy events calendar there is plenty to keep both the younger and the four-legged members of the family happy. Please note that dogs must be kept on a lead to protect the wildlife in the grounds.
If you really want to stretch your dogs’ legs they will relish a run to the top of Glastonbury Tor. The hike to the summit is not for the faint hearted but the views are incredible. Glastonbury town itself has a number of great pubs and independent shops that are dog friendly. There is even a Glastonbury dog walker’s group who can ‘pet-sit’ if you want to go somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs.
You don’t have to be a history buff or Jane Austen fan to appreciate the beauty of Bath. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987 in order to protect the splendid Georgian architecture and Roman ruins. It is worth a visit, if only to wander around and marvel at the splendid historic sights.
Whilst some of the cities attractions may not be appealing to dog owners, there are plenty of places that you can enjoy visiting with your dog that will give you a taste of Bath’s beauty without too much of the hustle and bustle. Take a picnic and enjoy the incredible birds eye views over the city from Alexandra Park. Or go for walk along the Royal Crescent. If you are interested in American history, dogs are allowed in the 30 acre garden at the American Museum and Gardens. Explore the various trails around the parklands which includes an American rose collection, an arboretum, a natural amphitheatre and a replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon. Whilst you are walking around, see if you can spot the sculptures of the six key figures in American history.
If you are looking for a bit of peace and tranquillity whilst still enjoying the Bath sky line, head to the National Trust’s Bath Skyline walk where you can admire the views of the city whilst walking through meadows, woodlands and sheltered valleys. If you want to try something a little bit different go for a walk through the two disused railway tunnels as part of the Two Tunnels Greenway path. One of the tunnels is over a mile long! The music and atmospheric light installations will keep you entertained along the way. If you are looking for a longer walk there is a 13 mile circular loop which starts and finishes in Bath and includes the two tunnels.
Somerset food and drink
Somerset is renowned worldwide for the quality of its cider and cheese but many visitors don’t know that it also produces succulent pork and other edible goodies. Somerset farmers markets are a foodie’s heaven. The one in Wells runs every Wednesday morning. Though small, the quality of produce is outstanding and the markets were voted the best in the South West. There are also good markets in Frome (second Saturday in the month), Glastonbury (fourth Saturday of the month), Green Park Station in Bath (every Saturday) and Midsomer Norton (first Saturday of the month).
If you are looking to taste some local cider, dog friendly Torre Cider Farm is a great place to visit. Take a walk in the orchards and allow the kids to let off some steam in the play area before refuelling in the tearoom. Before you head off visit their shop where you can stock up on local produce as well as their very own cider and juice.
If you are wanting to eat out you will find a wide choice of dog friendly pubs and restaurants to satisfy a raging appetite after a day of exploring.
Dog walking in Somerset
The huge choice of coastal paths, wooded trails, rugged moors or wild flower walks makes Somerset a real dog walkers paradise. From the diversity of Exmoor National Park with its miles of tracks and trails through ancient woods, heather-clad moors and breath-taking coastal paths, to the dramatic peaks and gorges of the Mendip Hills, you could fill-up a whole week and more exploring Somerset by foot (and paw!).
Discover the raw natural beauty of the Quantock Hills and walk in the footsteps of famous romantic poets, discovering with every step the beauty, wildlife and incredible views over the Bristol channel that inspired the likes of Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Alternatively you can venture over to the Devon/Somerset borders to the serene tranquillity of the rolling Blackdown Hills where you have a great choice of walks for all abilities.
Other dog friendly attractions in Somerset
It’s not all about food, poets and walks in Somerset! If you are visiting Exmoor you can have a day on the beach, travel on the longest heritage railway in Britain or visit the spectacular Dunster Castle.
Oatley Vineyard in Cannington near Bridgewater allows dogs to walk with owners through the vineyard and the surrounding nature area. It’s a friendly family run business with a welcoming cellar door. Bring a picnic and wash it down with a bottle of Oatley wine!
Alternatively, you cannot fail to be wowed by the Cheddar Gorge, England’s deepest natural canyon. Carved out by glacial meltwater during the last ice age these awe inspiring cliffs are a truly magnificent site. Climb the 274 steps to the top of Jacobs ladder for the best view and to enjoy a walk on the cliff top trails. If the weather isn’t on your side visit the ancient caves. The stalagmites and stalactites in Gough’s Cave are truly amazing!
Any history lovers should visit the moated Nunney Castle in Frome or Muchelney Abbey near Langport. Kids will love dressing up in the Monk’s clothing and once you have finished exploring inside there is plenty of room for children to play and dogs to run around in the grounds. Keen gardeners should visit the stunning Hestercombe Gardens in Taunton. The fifty acres of beautiful gardens include woodland walks, lakes, temples and an impressive Orangery. Dogs are welcome in the gardens, café and shop.
This green and bountiful county is an ideal spot for a dog friendly holiday. Enjoy good food, stunning walks and fascinating historic sites. Or simply appreciate a break away from it all in one of the prettiest corners of the country. Somerset really is holiday destination for everyone and their dog. Whether you are looking for somewhere to stay that has a large enclosed garden, walks from the front door or a cosy log burner to snuggle up in front of in the evenings, Independent Cottages has a huge range of dog friendly holiday cottages in Somerset to choose from.