It’s hard not to fall in love with Somerset. This green and bountiful county is one of England’s finest and the ideal spot for a dog friendly holiday. One of Somerset’s biggest advantages as a holiday destination is how easy it is to reach. Though many of its 400 villages feel remote and peaceful, Somerset is bordered by the M5 which runs from Bristol in the north, down past Taunton, and on to Devon and Cornwall. You can walk out of the office and into your country escape well in time for last orders.
The Somerset Landscape
The Somerset countryside has been inspiring artists and poets for hundreds of years. Lush rolling pastures are scattered with traditional villages and towns, and punctuated with geographical marvels including Cheddar Gorge. You can also enjoy huge swathes of Exmoor National Park, two-thirds of which is in Somerset.
The Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills, and Blackdown Hills are all designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). You’ll definitely want to bring your walking boots when you come here and your four legged companion!
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 Festival at Glastonbury is not a dog-friendly event, Glastonbury itself is still worth a visit simply to see the mystical ruined abbey (dogs are welcome but it is requested they are kept on a short lead to protect the wildlife in the grounds). Rumoured to be the burial site of King Arthur, the Grade I listed monastery was destroyed in the Reformation.
The surrounding town has a number of great pubs and independent shops. Your dog will relish a romp to the top of Glastonbury Tor every bit as much as you will love the incredible views. Glastonbury is the perfect base for dog owners to visit Somerset as it is so dog friendly. There is even the 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 and it is worth a visit, if only to wander around and marvel at the historic sights (and sites!).
Whilst some of the cities attractions may not be appealing to dog owners, there are still plenty of places that you can enjoy visiting with your dog that will give you a taste of Bath’s beauty without too much hustle and bustle. Take a picnic and enjoy the incredible birds eye views over the city from Alexandra Park, or see the cities highlights from the water and take a river tour from Pulteney Weir (dogs are welcome on the Pulteney Princess). Take your dog for a walk along the Royal Crescent or through one of the spectacular Victorian parks and drink in the atmosphere that has attracted holidaymakers in their droves for millennia.
There are a good variety of places in Bath where well behaved dogs are welcome including Bath’s smallest pub, The Coeur de Lion, The Bath Brew House right in the centre of the city, and the Long Barrow Neolithic Tomb in Stoney Littleton.
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. In fact, Somerset is a gastronome’s paradise and you’ll find a wide choice of restaurants to satisfy a raging appetite after a day of exploring. Dog friendly places to eat in Somerset include Eco Friendly Bites at the Avalon Marshes Centre in Westhay, the Kings Head in Merriott and The Plough in Taunton.
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).
Dog Friendly Attractions in Somerset
We’ve mentioned a few dog friendly attractions in Somerset such as Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor, but there are many more places you and your four-legged family members can enjoy in Somerset including dog-friendly attractions in Exmoor.
The West Somerset Railway in Minehead welcomes well behaved dogs on its trains for a small fee. Train enthusiasts love the longest heritage railway in Britain which runs through stunning countryside from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. Passengers can see not only gorgeous coastline but also the famed Quantock Hills. Alight at Williton for the Coleridge Way – a 36 mile route taking in the scenery that inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet after whom it is named.
Oatley Vineyard is in Cannington near Bridgewater, where dogs on leads are allowed to walk with owners through the vineyard and the surrounding nature area. It’s a friendly family run business with a welcoming cellar door!
Dogs are allowed to go into most areas of Cheddar Gorge and Caves. It’s a great attraction with plenty to keep everyone happily entertained regardless of the weather. Other dog-friendly attractions in Somerset include Nunney Castle in Frome, Muchelney Abbey near Langport, and Hestercombe Gardens in Taunton where you and your dog (on lead) can wander around fifty acres of beautiful gardens, woodland walks and lakes.
Dog walking in Somerset
From the diversity of Exmoor National Park with its miles of tracks and trails through ancient woods, heather-clad moors and breathtaking 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 Quantocks 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 not only Samuel Taylor Coleridge but also Wordsworth; or venture over to the Devon / Somerset borders to the serene tranquility of the rolling Blackdown Hills where you have a great choice of walks for all abilities.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into music, food, history, or nature, you’ll love your time in Somerset, and so will your dog.