Frolic along sandy shores from Merseyside to Scotland

Wild and windswept beaches make the UK’s more northerly regions—Merseyside, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland—invigorating destinations where energetic dogs and humans alike are in their element.

North region


Four-legged friends are more than welcome at the National Trust’s glorious Formby Beach, with its miles of sand, dunes, and pinewoods dotted with picnic areas. You’ll even find self-filling water bowls for them at the toilets and parking areas, and the welcome kiosk dispenses dog bags if you’ve left yours behind. You need to keep your dog on a lead if you go through the squirrel-walk area (the site is a habitat for rare red squirrels) or past the fields where sheep are kept for conservation grazing at certain times of year.

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Best known for its inland bodies of water, the Lake District is also blessed with some lovely coastline. Among the best for a gusty dog walk is sand-and-shingle Maryport Beach, with its rock pools and views towards the Scottish shoreline. You can continue your stroll around the harbour and marina of the town itself.

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Take your dog to join the fossil hunters, surfers, and windsurfers on wide, sweeping, sandy Cayton Bay between Scarborough and Filey, with a beach hut cafe yet a remote feel. You’ll find a similar wild vibe to Robin Hood’s Bay farther north in the North York Moors National Park. Nestled in the fissure between two cliffs, it’s reached via a steep street down through the old fishing village and a cobbled slipway followed by a return along the clifftop. Nearby sandy Runswick Bay with its old lifeboat station is another rugged spot, with a steep coastal path to negotiate.

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The windswept coastline of northeast England makes for a blissfully uncrowded destination for a pet-friendly break. Two of the best beaches in the region are hidden away on the remote northern side of Holy Island of Lindisfarne, itself cut off from the world at high tide and accessed only via a causeway. With their high dunes, Coves Haven Beach and Keel Head Beach make up for what they lack in facilities with a raw, elemental feel.

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Gairloch Beach in Wester Ross in the Highlands entices dog walkers with its glorious island and sunset views, while dogs themselves make full use of its smooth sands, dunes, rocks, and heather-swathed moorlands. Further south, in Dumfries and Galloway, Sandyhills Beachis a great place to bring your furry friend for a picnic, with shallow waters to romp in plus a cafe. And rocky Seton Sands in East Lothian has a Blue Flag rating and a dedicated dog exercise area.

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