The Best UK Winter Holiday Destinations for Dog Lovers

Winter is the season for charging across misty fields, splashing in muddy puddles and hopping through the snow – and dogs love it, too. We’ve sourced dog-friendly destinations around the UK where pups can enjoy the surroundings, yet still be sure of a warm welcome. The best UK winter holiday destinations for dog lovers include these amazing places to visit.

Rhossili Bay, Wales

Known for miles of surf-happy waters, this beautiful sandy shore in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) was voted number one dog-friendly beach by The Times. Perfect for long sprints and wave-jumping, the beach is a playground for humans and pups. Then take a walk up Rhossili Downs for spectacular views along the beach and across to Worm’s Head. Rhossili is the final stop at the end of the Gower Peninsula, which is famous for its wave-lashed coastline, sandy beaches and dog welcoming restaurants and hostelries.

Coniston, The Lake District

This mountainous Lake District conjures up images of green fells, but the lakes in snow are magical and serene. If the weather’s not good for climbing, stay on one of the lower trails that winds around the waters. Older pets will appreciate taking one of the National Park Miles Without Stiles routes, perfect for tired paws. Make the route circular by hitching a ride on the outer decks of the Coniston Water gondola, accessible to pups on leads. The town of Coniston is a spectacular place for a wintry escape with a dog with plenty of pup-friendly establishments to rest weary legs and refuel after long walks.

Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire

Head straight to the heart of Sherwood Forest and the legend of Robin Hood in this delightful Nottinghamshire village. Explore the woodland trails, then stop for lunch in one of the many dog-friendly pubs in Edwinstowe. As well as the forest, there are other fine places to visit nearby including Clumber Park – a beautiful National Trust estate that offers acres for fun for dogs and their owners. In most areas dogs require leads, but the park has plenty of space for off-leash leaf snuffles. Best of all, the Clumber Bark café is a pooch-friendly place with dog beds and hot snacks for owners. Pup-fact: the Clumber Spaniel breed was developed here, so no wonder doggies are welcome.

Ruislip, London

Located on the outskirts of London, Ruislip is an interesting choice for a dog-friendly winter holiday. If your dog is not phased by people, the attractions of the capital are just a short train or tube ride away. While Ruislip itself is a charming place to explore with a four-legged friend. Ruislip Lido’s 60-acre lake is a little-known secret for those seeking quiet wintry walks. Pups must be kept on leads in the bigger bits of the park, but an off-season visit means more room at the little beach set aside just for dogs. After a scamper on the chilly sands, a miniature rail line means you can rug up on a bench seat and enjoy a ride through the woods. For stays in the area, there are dog friendly retreats in nearby Beaconsfield.

Loch Ness, Scotland

A visit to Loch Ness in winter is a hit for the hardiest walkers and their willing pets. With trails that loop around waterfalls and misty fields, keep an eye out for hidden malt whisky distilleries, offering mellow warming drams. After a ramble around the hills, a little snifter will be just the ticket before heading back out to stroll by the gleaming waters. Be sure to visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle for dramatic views and a useful vantage point to look out for Nessy in one of the largest and deepest lochs in the Scottish Highlands. Find your dog-friendly winter retreat in Drumnadrochit or Inverness.

Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds

One of the better-known picture-postcard villages in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a lovely, bucolic setting for a winter getaway with a dog. This quintessential English village is known for its low bridges over the gentle river and its traditional local stone houses. There are hikes galore in the area with the Cotswold Way connecting many of the area’s villages and landmarks. There are long walks on offer for stalwarts, plus shorter trails for those who only want a quick stomp. Charming at any time of year, the pretty Cotswold towns come into their own during the winter. Warming cafés are tucked around every corner, while gift shops offer Christmas shopping opportunities.

Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Glassy seas meet the endless blue horizon beyond miles of frosty sand on this spectacular stretch of the North Norfolk coast. Dogs are welcome year-round on the beautiful beaches at Holkham and Brancaster, and there is a myriad of footpaths to explore around the idyllic town of Wells-Next-the-Sea. On the Norfolk Broads waterways, plenty of local narrowboats accept doggies, and boat trips allow access to towpath walks and field romps. If the weather turns, head back to Wells where there are plenty of dog-friendly pubs and cafés for a bite to eat or warming drink.

St Agnes, Cornwall

Photo by Mark Fairhurst on Unsplash

Nothing says winter like the Atlantic crashing romantically against Cornish rocks. For the best view (and the chance of sea spray if the waves are high), hike your pup along the cliffs and coves surrounding St Agnes or stroll up to Wheal Coates for fantastic views of the old tin mine engine house perched above Chapel Porth beach. For a longer ramble, head up to the summit of St Agnes Beacon, where you’ll see the full curve of the North Cornwall coast. For a spot of food and shelter, pad along to the Chapel Porth Café, which is open most weekends during the winter.

Lymington, New Forest

Explore the town quay, riverside walks and paths across marshland and lagoons at the Lymington Nature Reserve. Lymington is one of the New Forest’s prettiest seaside towns and a great base for invigorating winter walks along the coast. For a day out, head to Hurst Castle – a fortress built by Henry VIII to guard the entrance to the Solent. Loyal watchdogs will love pacing the surroundings, though wild storms on windy days may force a retreat to nearby Milford-on-Sea for a warming café break.

Seahouses, Northumberland

Brace for windy weather, as you walk your dog along scenic beaches on this notoriously chilly north-east coast of England. Hardy pups are rewarded with miles of sand to scamper on, a pretty harbour for happy trotting, and plenty of fish and chip shops for scrap scavenging. North Sunderland Beach is big enough for racing up and down, and spacious enough for dogs craving room to roam. Travel further up the coast for striking views of Bamburgh Castle from the beach, which is a local favourite for dog walkers. Seahouses is a natural choice for a wintry break on the Northumberland coast.

Bovey Tracey, Devon

With carols ringing through the high street of this small Devon town, it’s tempting to hide out and drink coffee all day. Dogs may have other ideas, such as taking you for a tail-wag around the Parke Estate. Russet with autumn leaves, shrouded in winter mists, this parkland is skirted by the River Bovey’s bubbling waters, perfect for taking in the cool air. For a bigger adventure, head up to the high hills and granite tors of Dartmoor, which are often sprinkled with snow during the winter months. As the gateway to the moor, Bovey Tracey is a handy spot for a holiday away with a dog.

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