It really is a dog’s life in South Devon, thanks to all the walks, beaches, pubs, restaurants and attractions open to man’s best friend in our region.
Being dog lovers ourselves, our locally-based team has put together a list of our favourite dog-friendly Devon attractions to help you plan your days out. All of these are just a short drive away from Salcombe, Dartmouth and other popular holiday destinations in the beautiful South Hams.
1. Fantastic beaches for Fido
The first thing that comes to our minds when we think of dog-friendly Devon attractions is of course our region’s wonderful range of beaches.
Wherever you are in South Devon, you’ll be in easy reach of a dog-friendly beach. Some welcome dogs all year round, such as Beesands, East Portlemouth beach, Hallsands, Millbay, North Sands and Slapton Sands. Or if you’d like a more secluded South Devon beach, why not pay a visit to Mattiscombe Sands or Lannacombe Beach, where you can enjoy our coastline at its most rugged and dramatic?
Other beaches allow dogs outside of the peak summer period, either everywhere on the beach or on specially reserved areas. These include South Sands near Salcombe, the renowned surfing beach at Bantham, and the Blue Flag-awarded beaches of Bigbury-On-Sea and Blackpool Sands.
2. Walks to get tails wagging
Back home, most of us tend to repeat a certain number of walks we know well. One of the delights of a holiday in the countryside is the chance to discover new trails, whether through woodland, along the coast, or across unspoilt farmland. Walking through our region, you’ll uncover unforgettable panoramas, hidden coves, ‘secret’ picnic tables and benches, and much more.
That’s why a simple stroll with your four-legged friend is number two on our list of dog-friendly Devon attractions.
3. A pint with the pooch
Lots of dog owners comment that having a pet helps them appreciate the simple things in life – for example, fresh air and exercise, companionship and generally making the most of the moment. It follows that the best dog-friendly Devon attractions are about straightforward pleasures like beaches, walks and the humble pint in the pub.
Indeed, no holiday in the countryside is complete without a drink in a traditional, cosy old inn, whether that means relaxing in a beer garden on a sunny day or warming yourselves by an open fire in the winter.
Some of the most popular pubs in South Devon offer a warm welcome to customers bringing their canine companions. In one case, there’s even dog beer on the menu!
4. The South Devon Railway welcomes Rover
The South Devon Railway offers a chance to step back in time to experience the golden age of steam. Ironically, what was once a symbol of the breakneck speed of industrial living has come to represent a gentler, more civilised way of life. Arrive early in Buckfastleigh to appreciate the quaint little station, with its museum, shop and café.
The scenic rail journey follows a beautiful stretch of the River Dart to Totnes, via the village of Staverton. Enjoy a cup of tea and a snack from the buffet carriage as you take in the views. The experience is made all the sweeter by the fact you can bring your four-legged friend along with you.
5. Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat
Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company offers a range of dog-friendly trips. These include a steam railway ride from Dartmouth to Paignton and back – taking in some spectacular riverside, woodland and coastal views. Plus, there’s a range of boat trips, as well as the option of the ‘Round Robin’. This is a combined rail, river and bus journey, taking in Dartmouth, Paignton and Totnes.
6. Canine-friendly castles
It’s probably a fair assumption that your dog won’t be particularly interested in the rich history of South Devon. But it will still appreciate being able to tag along with the family, getting the stimulation of new smells, sights and textures as you explore one of South Devon’s castles.
The castle’s purpose may have changed beyond all recognition – from keeping outsiders at bay to drawing them in – but it remains an impressive, imposing complex of buildings. Work on Dartmouth Castle began in the late 14th Century, and the fort remained militarily relevant right up to and including the Second World War. Discover the history of this fascinating building and bring your dog along.
Dartmouth Castle Ferry
A ferry runs from the Embankment in Dartmouth to just outside the castle, and dogs are welcome to come for the ride. Since the Castle sits just on the edge of the South West Coast Path, why not take the ferry from the centre of Dartmouth? That way, you can reserve some energy for the walk to Blackpool Sands.
There’s yet more South Hams history to discover with your dog. The motte and bailey castle in Totnes, worth visiting for the spectacular views alone, is happy to accommodate your four-legged friend. Perhaps if you’re completing the popular Round Robin, a visit to this glorious Norman castle could fit perfectly with your plans.
7. Pennywell Farm – a Devon attraction with a day kennel
Understandably, South Devon’s many animal attractions are unable to permit dogs. But Pennywell Farm, a popular petting zoo particularly adored by younger children, offers free day kennels for visitors. So you can leave your dog in their capable hands as you discover a world of adorable animals, from miniature pigs to giant horses.
Finally, another attraction of South Devon for dog owners is the extensive range of high-quality holiday accommodation available. In our region, ‘luxury’ and ‘dog-friendly’ aren’t mutually exclusive, which is one reason so many discerning dog owners make their way here every year.