Wanting some inspiration for UK outdoor adventures with your furry friend for your next holiday? Try these tips and links to make the most of your caravanning or camping canine adventures!
In celebration of a new furry addition to our extended family, (my brother’s family have bought a cute Cavapoo puppy this month), and as a result of adoring all things dog, I thought an article on dog friendly holiday tips, places to go and dogtastic holiday hacks might be in order. As a dog lover, I know that anywhere outside is likely to be a winning idea for your furry friend. Most dogs love the great outdoors and it’s really good for their health as well as ours. According to recent studies, dog owners are more likely to exercise half an hour more than the general population. The PDSA website has got some great ideas about getting the right type of exercise with your dog. So where can you go to find great tips for holidaying with your hound?
The UK is very much a dog friendly destination for a holiday, as is much of Europe for that matter. After being welcomed on the basis of our dog, rather than ourselves, to a restaurant in Germany, we’ve been incredibly lucky to have had extremely positive experiences pretty much wherever we have travelled. Only on one occasion in the UK, have we ever been disappointed, (a cafe which told us that we were welcome to eat with our dog, but as long as it was outside, where it was raining, and if we sat on plastic bags!). Cherry, our four-legged furball, has travelled with us on many ships, motorboats, cable cars, bendy busses and trains in the UK and on the continent, meaning that holidaying and exploring has been relatively free and easy. Obviously, like other dog owners, we are much more mindful in hotter weather and have to adapt our activities appropriately, where she is quite happy to chill out in a pub, coffee shop or three when things get too warm.
I would recommend the following destinations below for being particularly brilliant in terms of their dog friendliness. There are also plenty more guides to great dog friendly destinations here, here and here.
- Keswick. It seems that there isn’t a shop in Keswick which doesn’t allow dogs inside and it is a regular dog friendly award winner! Although this Lake District town is busier in the summer months, if you visit off peak, it’s a great base from which to enjoy the beauty and splendour of its surrounding countryside. Great walks nearby include scaling Cat Bells, Skiddaw and Buttermere, but there are plenty of quieter walks which aren’t too far away.
- 2. Wells-next-the-Sea. This lovely town along the North Norfolk coastline is also exceedingly popular with dog owners, having been voted as the 2nd best dog friendly town and beach in the 2019 Dog Friendly Awards. You can walk from its beach to the beautiful wide sands of Holkham just a little further up the coast. Having highlighted the attractions of Holkham beach in a previous blog, I would recommend Norfolk as a great holiday destination for caravanners and campers with dogs.
- 3. Other dog friendly options. For quieter and more offbeat dog friendly destinations, Mid Wales, Northumberland, South West Scotland, and the Highlands of Scotland are brilliant for offering a mixture of outdoor adrenalin based, water related and walking adventures.
Further afield, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany are very welcoming and often allow dogs into shops and restaurants. In fact, in plenty of motorway service stations on the continent dogs are allowed inside, as we found in Luxembourg and Germany. Although travelling abroad may be out of reach right now for UK citizens, these destinations are great bets for a European canine camping adventure in the future.
Pawfect caravan and camping sites for dogs
So many caravan and camping parks allow dogs to stay with their owners that it is impossible to cover them all in this section. Holidaying on wheels with a dog is a perfect way to get closer to nature and many campsites and touring parks offering plenty of dog friendly features such as dog walks on site, heated dog showers, fresh water bowls and free biscuits! All of the UK’s Caravan and Motorhome Club sites allow dogs to stay for free with their owners. This is great for the budget conscious holidaymaker. They also have a recommended list of sites which are perfect for dog walks here. Most Best of British Holiday Parks also allow dogs to stay alongside owners on pitches, or in their lodges, holiday homes and glamping accommodation, with plenty of extra dog friendly facilities onsite.
There are also a number of Tranquil Parks sites which are brilliant for dog owners staying in their caravan, motorhome or camper. We love the Old Oaks Touring and Glamping Park in Somerset which is very well placed for walks straight from the site in any direction. You can walk up Glastonbury Tor nearby, whilst it has its own enclosed dog walk complete with a dog shower onsite too. It’s 5 star luxury washroom facilities ensure that your stay is very relaxing. Red Kite Touring Park in Powys is similar in terms of the high standards of pitch, facilities and excellent dog walks both onsite and off site. It also has a dog shower for muddy walks and like the Old Oaks, has a well landscaped fishing lake onsite. We had visited Red Kite last summer, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, as we knew how safe we would be due to its excellent safety and cleaning practices onsite.
Dog friendly UK attractions
There are great online guides such as the Good Dog Guide and Dog Friendly Britain providing a plethora of recommendations for attractions to visit with your four pawed adventurer once you arrive at your destination. To start off, you can’t go wrong using English Heritage and the National Trust guides. Most of their sites are dog friendly and even free, if you become a member. There are also plenty of other UK attractions which are great options for dog owners. Some recommendations which we have visited with Cherry are….
Wells Cathedral, Somerset – Yes a cathedral! I’m not making this up! We were kindly allowed inside to be able to experience the beauty of this medieval building, set at the heart of England’s smallest city. Cherry had to be on a lead, well-behaved and accompanied at all times by us and it was an added extra that she was able to join us inside for a visit.
The Eden Project, Cornwall- Aside from the biome areas, we could walk carefree and explore the many exhibits and gardens with Cherry, whilst there were plenty of water bowls throughout this attraction. We took it in turns to visit the biomes but due to the huge choice of gardens, cafes and scenic places to sit, this was not a problem for us. We felt that it was excellent value for money as a daylong dog friendly attraction.
Nothe Fort, Dorset- A 100% dog friendly attraction overlooking Portland Harbour. This C19th fort was built to protect the naval harbour at Portland. There is a museum with many fascinating exhibits of military technology including one of the role of the fort in World War Two. We were able to take Cherry through each tunnel and my husband enjoyed posing on one of its many anti-aircraft guns!
There are plenty of other individual attractions that we are still to visit post Covid such as the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire, England, (a highly rated dog friendly award winner), and Inveraray Jail in Argyll, Scotland, (a place we have stopped at but not realised that dogs were allowed inside). Hopefully, we can explore more of these places safely soon.
Doggy proof your holiday home
The beauty of having your own home on wheels is the fact that Cherry immediately settles as soon as we have pitched up. After a few choice radio tunes and a quick drink, she’s already hogged the sofa, leaving us to get the rest of the caravan/ awning set up in peace. It also helps to have researched the site already. Where are the nearest dog poo bins? Where can your dog go and where not? How long should your lead be around the site? Camping and caravan sites are really welcoming places for dog owners but by paying attention to doggy etiquette, you’ll be appreciated by everyone. Remember, not all campers are animal lovers! The Caravan and Motorhome Club Guidance has a good guide to visiting its sites with a dog which can be accessed here.
As a proud caravan owner, I had to quickly improvise when we planned to go away for the first time. However, experience had already taught me the basics-pack a few towels, and a few more just in case, then a few more because you know a mischievious spot of sheep poo will turn up where you least expect it. The addition of several cheap coordinated fleecy throws has also ensured not only Cherry’s comfort, but my sanity! In addition to the usual, (a few toys, food, light weight bowls etc), we also carry different types of leads in the van- the screw in, a short lead, (for pub trips), and a longer extendable lead for our varied walks. The last item we find invaluable is a silicone folding water bowl for our walks. Not only are these lightweight and easy to attach to your rucksack, but they are much easier to carry and reduce water wastage when you are limited to how much water you can carry on longer walks. They can also double up as bowls in the caravan and unlike the bottle tray combos, are lighter, less clunky and easier to clean. Cherry is set up then to enjoy her evening entertainment of watching birds/ people/ other dogs and snoring.
I hope that you enjoy planning your next camping or camping holiday with your canine as soon as it is safe enough to enjoy the summer!
For further information on any of these destinations, please click on the embedded link for each attraction. Please also be aware of the up to date Covid-19 regulations within the UK which may affect the access to each attraction. For an up to date guide to the latest travelling advice in the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic, please visit the 4 websites in the RESOURCES section of my website.
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