Dorset is home to many dog-friendly attractions, from world-famous natural landmarks to sweeping estates to stunning castles from centuries gone by. Giving your pup a wonderful opportunity to stretch their legs and sniff out new scents whilst you take in the scenery together, the variety of things to do will thrill even the most seasoned paddy-pawed adventurers.
Ensuring that no one has to get left behind this year, we’ve put together a list of the must-see dog-friendly attractions in Dorset.
1. Durdle Door
Situated on the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door is one of the most famous attractions in the UK. If it hasn’t already found its way onto your bucket list, then its dog-friendly accolades may well be the incentive you needed. Featuring an incredible natural limestone arch that rises 200ft in the air and descends into the sea, this jaw-dropping archway makes for one of the most photogenic locations imaginable and is a must-see destination.
2. Lulworth Cove
A great way to extend your sightseeing tour and wrack up the paces, there is an excellent 1.5-mile walk along the coast path from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove. Another iconic natural landmark, Lulworth Cove is one of Dorset’s most recognisable sights. Haled the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, it was formed at the end of the last Ice Age and attracts countless visitors each year for its unique geology, sheltered bay and year-round dog-friendly beach.
3. Agglestone Rock
Dorset’s much smaller answer to Ayers Rock, Agglestone Rock (known more menacingly as the Devil’s Anvil) is a giant 400-tonne sandstone block. Perched atop a conical hill, its incongruous mass makes for dramatic viewing and is a great destination for walks with your dog. While some believe it is the product of weathering, local legends say it was thrown there by the Devil – who was actually aiming for Corfe Castle! To get to Agglestone Rock, there is a walk from Studland Village of about 1 mile.
4. Corfe Castle
The striking ruins of Corfe Castle are some of Britain’s most significant survivors of the English Civil War. An important fortification since the Roman times and a stalwart guard to the gateway of Purbeck, its hilltop position still affords incredible views over the surrounds. Open to two and four-legged visitors alike, today you can amble around the castle ruins together, following the Corfe Common history walk before stopping off at the tearoom or picnicking in the sunshine.
5. Arne RSPB Nature Reserve
This dog-friendly Arne RSPB Nature Reserve features a mix of heath and marsh. Covering 563 hectares, it is a haven for a wide variety of local wildlife and is one of the few remaining places in the UK where all of the UK’s native reptile species can still be found. Pop your dog on their lead and discover beech woodlands, wildflower meadows and heathland trails, looking out for the shy sika deer, grey squirrels and rare birds who all call the area home.
6. Kimmeridge Bay
Located just half a mile from the village of Kimmeridge, Kimmeridge Bay showcases some of the most important geology found anywhere along the Jurassic Coast. A superb marine reserve, this year-round dog-friendly beach is also hugely popular for its shallow, sheltered waters that are great for swimming and paddling. Roll up a towel, bundle up a picnic hamper and find a shady spot on the beach, ready to cool off in the refreshing seawater after games of catch and fetch along the shore.
7. Golden Cap Estate
The great rocky promontory of Golden Cap marks the highest point on Britain’s south coast at 191m high. As well as its far-reaching views, this must-see attraction is also popular for its array of walking opportunities, with access to the coast path and 25 miles of footpaths around the Golden Cap Estate. To get there, you can make use of the National Trust car parks at Stonebarrow Hill or Langdon Hill.
8. RSPB Radipole Lake and Lodmoor Nature Reserves
These two wetland nature reserves are nestled within the centre of Weymouth town, just behind the harbour. An unlikely setting for a plethora of wildlife species, a walk around the reserves may reward you with sightings of kingfishers, otters and even water voles. Keep your loyal canine chum on their lead and enjoy the tranquillity, before heading back to the lively thrum of Weymouth and tucking into an ice cream on the prom.
9. Sherborne Castle
Commissioned by Sir Walter Raleigh and completed in 1594, the historic Sherborne Castle has 42 acres of dog-friendly English Landscape Gardens. A truly regal setting for leisurely strolls with your pup, just some of the gems you will discover include a huge lake, Raleigh’s Seat and the Cascade – an ornamental waterfall feature built by Capability Brown in 1753. One of the must-see attractions in Dorset, the gardens are particularly beautiful in spring and autumn when breath-taking colours transform the trees and borders.
10. Swanage Railway
The Swanage Railway offers a nostalgic steam train experience and scenic journey around the Isle of Purbeck. Step aboard with your dog and lap up the stunning views, stopping off at the station at Corfe Castle if you would like to stretch your legs and explore the village. First opened in 1885, this heritage railway offers one of the most extensive timetables of all of Europe’s preserved railways and is a real must for all generations. Hosting many events throughout the calendar, you should also look out for the railway’s themed days.