And dog came too…
One of the best things about holidays in Dorset is long walks that end up in a cosy pub – and it’s just not the same if you don’t take your four-legged friend with you. Luckily we have some of the best dog-friendly cottages in Dorset – and the good news is most of them are really handy for some of the best beaches and cliff walks in the area.
Best dog friendly walk in Dorset
A dog walker’s paradise, the jutting prow of Hengistbury Head has the sea on one side and Christchurch harbour on the other. Starting at the visitor centre, it’s a two mile round walk out to the beach huts at the end of the sandspit and back. The joy is the variety of terrain that you – and your dog – can enjoy in a relatively small distance. First head up over the top of the Head with its sandy soil, open spaces and steep cliffs, riddled with rabbit holes to explore: the views are fantastic – from the Isle of Wight to the Purbecks in one direction, and over the sandspit and across to the New Forest in the other. Then descend the other side along a lovely long sandy beach, either walking back along the beach – the waters and tidal inlets are ideal for dogs to swim in – or wending your way through the beautiful native woods behind. End your walk with a fine bacon, egg and mushroom bap at the Hiker Cafe, where they provide dog bowls of water for your thirsty friend.
Best dog friendly pub in Dorset
We love the wonderful Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers, which is dog-friendly in the extreme. After a fantastic walk along the Purbeck clifftops, it’s the perfect spot to sit outside with a pint of local cider and a homemade pie at the stone tables and take advantage of the great views – just watch out for the chickens that roam freely around the garden. Inside is a series of tiny rooms, where dogs are welcomed too, and on a winter’s day you’ll find several dogs stretched out proprietorially in front of the roaring fire, while their owners huddle around the bar.
Best dog friendly beach in Dorset
There are countless beaches on which to walk your dog in Dorset, though if you’re coming in summer you should check if there are restrictions in place, as some places limit dog access in the summer. One beach that welcomes dogs all year is Ringstead Bay, a lovely shingle beach backed by vertiginous cliffs. You can access it from the clifftop, a lovely walk along ancient farm tracks, though if you want to avoid the steep walk back up at the end there’s a car park down by beach. And if you and your hound get bored of the beach, you can follow the South West Coast Path for just over a mile from here to the excellent Smugglers Inn at Osmington Mills, which is an extremely dog-friendly pub with a lovely beer garden.
Best dog friendly views in Dorset
Can you have dog friendly views? Well, the views are for the owner really but you can take the dog with you!
One of Dorset’s most iconic sites is the archway of Durdle Dor and the semi-circular bay of Lulworth Cove, both of which allow dogs all year round. The steep walk up to the clifftop that looks over Durdle Dor is great for dogs, though if yours is prone to running off to explore, you may want to keep it on the lead as the drops down to the sea below are steep. Lulworth Cove itself is almost enclosed so very sheltered, and its gently shelving beach it makes a great spot for dogs to cool off after a long hot walk. One of Britain’s most dog-friendly pubs is just up the road in East Lulworth, the Castle Inn, which serves decent pub grub and real ales and ciders, with free dog treats available at the bar. In fact, dogs are so welcome that they even have their own page on the pub website!