Mile upon mile of jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches in the seaside counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, and all along the dramatic coastline of Wales, make this part of the UK a no-brainer for those looking for a pet-perfect getaway.
West and Southwest region
CANINE CAPERS IN CORNWALL
More than 300 miles of coastline make Cornwall paradise for pooches. Two of the best that welcome them year round lie just north of the surfer town of Newquay: Watergate Bay, with two miles of golden sand where dogs can frolic among rock pools and refuel in the Beach Hut restaurant; and nearby, quieter Mawgan Porth, where amenities at hand include The Blue Fish Bar with its seaview terrace. Further south, tranquil Porthkidney Sands has almost a mile of beach at low tide, backed by dunes and edged by the South West Coastal Path. Dogs need to be on a lead on the footpath down from St. Uny Church.
In South Devon, Blue Flag Beesands Beach near Kingsbridge is a mile-long stretch of shingle in a lively fishing village. Popular with watersports devotees, it has a charmingly old-fashioned feel and a rustic beach-shack-style cafe where your canine companion will find water bowls in its “dog park”. Alternatively, close to chic Salcombe but worlds away in feel, relish in the little gem that is Soar Mill Cove, tucked away in a remote spot accessible only on foot from the South West Coast Path, surrounded by National Trust land.
DOG DAYS IN DORSET
Stretches of sand to check out with your dog on the World Heritage site that is Dorset’s Jurassic Coast include Chesil Beach. For much of its 18 miles, this nature reserve is separated from the mainland by the Fleet Lagoon, providing prime frolicking territory for energetic canines. Further east along the Jurassic Coast and popular with fossil hunters, the National Trust’s Ringstead Bay is a dog-pleasing combo of unspoilt shingle and sand, cliffs, farmland, and a simple beach cafe. Or east of Bournemouth and Christchurch, sand-and-shingle Steamer Point Beach, below Highcliffe Castle, delights dog lovers with its setting at the base of a 24-acre clifftop nature reserve.
SEASIDE STROLLS IN SOMERSET
In west Somerset, Doniford Beach is fertile hunting ground for fossils, but your pooch will appreciate it more for its mixture of sand, mud, and rock pools. You’ll also love the pleasant marina-side strolls in the adjoining ancient harbour town of Watchet. Not far west, Porlock Weir is a four-mile-long pebble beach that links up with an enchanting woodland walk on the overlooking hillside. Meanwhile, as part of Europe’s second-longest stretch of sand, Berrow Beach in northern Somerset is boundless fun for dogs and their humans alike, with huge open spaces and more secluded dunes plus a famous sea wreck—be wary of soft sand and mud at the water’s edge at low tide.
The Gower Peninsula in the southwest is a fail-safe spot for a pet-friendly break, especially three-mile golden-sand Rhossili Bay, rated best beach in Britain by TripAdvisor reviewers and “the UK's No.1 dog-friendly beach” by The Times. Part of the Gower Coast Path and accessible only by steps from the village, it gets lively with surfers, families, and dolphin and seal spotters. Other prime pooch-friendly beaches on the peninsula include Mewslade Bay, a surfer’s favourite that you can only reach by a rocky wooded path, and horseshoe-shaped Tor Bay Beach, accessed via a cliffside path and with a wonderful headland, Great Tor, to explore. Or get away from it all further east in Swansea Bay, where sandy Crawley Beach can only be reached via woods or a footpath.