Top days out with dogs in the UK: from beaches to family attractions
If there’s one member of our family who is always up for an adventure it’s Tin Box Dog. She may be eight-years-old – that’s 56 in dog years – but her enthusiasm for getting outdoors means we’re always looking for days out with dogs so she can be involved in family time as much as possible.
And, of course, now that she is the older and more sensible ‘big sister’ – she gave us quite the run around as a pup – it’s easier to keep an eye on our other two when we are out and about.
Our favourite UK days out with dogs
Pet insurance experts Agria Pet Insurance have asked us to share some of our favourite adventures with our ‘senior dog’ to tie in with their Young at Heart campaign.
Here’s the days out with dogs that we love and some dog-friendly attractions in the UK, particularly in the wonderful South West where we live.
Find more days out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in my big round up of 101 UK attractions for families.
National Trust and English Heritage
We love National Trust and English Heritage days out. There’s always a treasure trail to entertain the kids, history and lovely views for Mr Tin Box and I, and a good walk for Tin Box Dog.
Dogs are usually welcome in the grounds of National Trust properties and some gardens. Formal gardens and historic houses are off limits so we take it in turns to look around these while someone stays with the dog.
We love visiting Greenway in Devon, which was once Agatha Christie’s holiday home. You and your favourite pooch can even arrive by train or boat. We also love walking around the grounds of Buckland Abbey, Saltram, Coleton Fishacre and Coleton Fishacre in Devon.
Further north we can recommend Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, which has walks through its extensive grounds and dog-friendly ruins of the Old Hall next door, and also Uppark House and Garden in West Sussex.
The vast majority of English Heritage sites are open to four-legged friends. Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall, Dartmouth Castle in Devon and Portchester Castle in Hampshire are examples of English Heritage sites where Tin Box Dog has stormed keeps and climbed spiral staircases.
Tintagel Castle is a must-visit if you are in Cornwall and has recently had a new bridge built to form a level access to the peninsular from the mainland.
Its not English Heritage but we also loved our recent visit to Carreg Cennen Castle in Carmarthenshire. The views are incredible and Tin Box Dog was even able to join us going underground into the natural cave under the castle crag.
Regardless of the time of year we love walking along the coast with Tin Box Dog. In fact, its sometimes easier in the autumn, winter and spring as more beaches are dog-friendly at this time of year.
We have lots of dog-friendly beaches in South Devon, where we live, and visit them regularly outside the main holiday season.
Cornwall is another place where you’ll find plenty of days out with dogs and dog-friendly beaches. Some of our favourite coast walks and beaches here are dog-friendly throughout the year. Towan Beach, Crantock Beach and Bedruthan Steps in and around Newquay are among them.
In Wales, we can recommend the amazing Cefn Sidan beach at Pembrey Country Park in Carmanthenshire. There’s eight miles of sandy beach and, apart from a central area which doesn’t allow dogs, your pooch can run free in the surf all year round.
We also love the multi award-winning Rhossili Bay and Mumbles Pier beach on Gower Peninsular, which are both dog-friendly beaches throughout the year. Rhossilli is great for a beach day with sand and a ship wreck to explore at low tide. We’ve also been told that a walk to Worms Head is great fun with rock pools for everyone to explore.
Mumbles has brilliant views of Swansea Bay, a pier and a Life Boat station to look around. Top tip: take a seat outside Verdi’s Cafe, which overlooks the Swansea Bay and enjoy a pizza, cream cake or an epic ice cream sundae.
In the summer we do more countryside walks. Dartmoor National Park is a favourite place to wander, as are the South Downs.
In the summer we climbed our first mountain with the girls and Tin Box Dog: Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. It was no mean feat on an unseasonably wet and windy July day, but there was very little complaining during our 13.3km circular walk. Seeing Tin Box Dog bounding up the track ahead of us is always a good motivator! Age isn’t slowing her down, that’s for sure.
A few things we are conscious of when walking with Tin Box Dog in the countryside and along the coast are:
- live stock – we always put Tin Box Dog back on a lead when walking through areas where sheep, cows and other farm animals are roaming free.
- cliffs – while Tin Box Dog wouldn’t deliberately run over a cliff we always keep her on the lead when walking in hilly areas and along coastal paths where drops can creep up on you.
Pet-friendly family attractions
Entertaining kids and a dog can be a bit of a challenge when you’ve had your fill of country walks and beach days. But it is possible to find dog-friendly family attractions around the UK.
It’s not often you can find wildlife-related days out with dogs but in Cornwall, there’s the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. There are just a few areas where dogs aren’t allowed, like the rehabilitation area and playground, but otherwise you can spend a full day here learning about the great conservation work this charity does with orphaned and injured marine life.
Read about more dog-friendly days out in Cornwall
Another type of day out where dogs are often allowed to join you are on steam railways. Tin Box Dog isn’t a fan of sudden noises, like tooting trains, but has humoured us by accompanying us on Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway in Cornwall and South Devon Railway. Even if she doesn’t appreciate the mode of travel it gives Tin Box Dog a chance to take a well needed break from running around.
She’s much more happy on boat trips. The Round Robin tour of South Devon includes a boat trip up the River Dart and is a great opportunity to spot wildlife in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Caves and mines are also a good shout for dog-friendly family days out. Dogs can tour above ground at Geevor Tin Mine near Lands End in Cornwall and even underground at the National Show Caves Centre for Wales in the Brecon Beacons.
Every day adventures
The very best thing about having Tin Box Dog is the every day adventures. I work from home and, aside from the school run, it would be easy not to leave the house all day.
A nudge from Tin Box Dog reminds me to get up from my desk, stretch my legs and fill my lungs with fresh air.
It’s valuable exercise for us both and I’m often more productive after a screen break. Like 33 percent of the pet owners surveyed by Agria Pet Insurance, having a pet gives me a reason to be active every day. I hope that Tin Box Dog and I will be keeping each other young at heart for many more years.
Insurance for senior pets
We wouldn’t be without pet insurance for Tin Box Dog and have always made sure we have a good level of cover should she need treatment or have an accident. However, as owners of a senior dog we know that pet insurance changes a lot as your pet becomes older and usually it isn’t possible to take out a new policy.
During October and November 2019 Agria Pet Insurance will be insuring cats, dogs and rabbits of any age. Find out more about their Age Amnesty and how it aims to help owners of senior pets on the Agria Pet Insurance website and in the video below.
Disclosure: this is a paid collaboration with Agria Pet Insurance.