Our four-legged friends love the outdoors as much as we do, so it goes without saying that they should join us on our holidays - but it certainly helps to do a little planning for it.
We’ve got some great tips for glamping with your dog. And if you’re looking for some inspiration on where to visit, in this guide we’ve put together some of our favourite dog-friendly things to do in the beautiful southwest county of Devon. Whether you love a long ramble on the coast and roaming free on the moors, or cosying down in a welcoming pub and exploring historic villages at a more leisurely pace, Devon has plenty to offer the whole family, canine companions included.
Just 15 minutes outside of the city of Exeter, this stunning park is made up of 3,500 acres of woodland that dogs will love to wander and explore. There are multiple walking, running and cycling trails throughout the park, with terrains and distances for all abilities to choose from. Children will love the 1.5 miles ‘Superworm’ trail where they’ll get their own activity packs to discover the forest’s minibeasts. Adventure-loving families can also partake in segway, archery or the well-loved treetop ropes attraction Go Ape (where dogs are also welcome). When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Ridge Cafe - and don’t miss their homemade doggie treats! Or if you’d prefer to take your own packed lunch, you’ll be pleased to find tie rings at the picnic tables to keep leads secure while you eat.
Set in a breathtaking ancient valley, Dartmoor’s Becky Halls is an idyllic spot to take your four legged friend for the day. There are over 50 acres of woodland, waterfalls and wildlife to sniff and discover, with several different walking trails to choose from too. Choose the Red Trail for the most dramatic waterfall, at 70 feet high (don’t forget your camera). Refuel with coffee and cake at the Woodland Cafe and be sure to call in to the Gift Shop before you leave - there’s a dedicated area for pooches to spend their ‘pawcket money’! Dogs are welcome in all areas except for the Animal Petting Area and Animal Discovery Zone, and they must be kept on a lead at all times.
Valley of the Rocks, North Devon
There are hundreds of breathtaking walks to choose from on the Southwest Coast Path - but this has to be one of Devon’s most spectacular. Start in the picturesque port town of Lynmouth, where you can park and walk up to Lynton town, or you can take the charming Lynton and Lynmouth funicular Cliff Railway, the highest and steepest totally water powered railway in the world, built in 1890. Dogs are welcome to travel with a small charge.
From Lynton, the pathway leads you to the dramatic Valley of the Rocks. The steep, craggy cliffs are very high, so it’s not a walk for the faint of heart - but if you and your dog can brave it you’ll be rewarded with phenomenal ocean views and a decent stretch of the legs. At just 2.9 miles long, and with relatively level terrain (despite the height!), it’s a pleasant walk with dogs or children.
The SDR is a seven mile long former Great Western Railway branch line and the longest established steam railway in the south west, built in 1872. The glorious steam train recreates the golden days of travel, meandering along the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, through Devon’s idyllic countryside - keep an eye out for wildlife along the valley. The Railway is a multi-award winning attraction and a relaxing, nostalgic day out for all of the family, including your pup (dogs can enjoy the ride for a ticket price of £2.00). At certain times of year they run ‘Days out with Thomas’ events too, where children and grown-ups alike will marvel at everyone’s favourite blue engine - although dogs can’t go aboard this one. Take a look at the SDR website for more information.
Baggy Point, North Devon
This 2.8 mile walk along the coast path to Baggy Point and back is nice and easy for families and dogs of all shapes and sizes, from daschunds to dobermans. It takes in stunning views across the rugged coastline towards Westward Ho! and Hartland on the left and Woolacombe and Morte Pointe on the right. The steep cliffs look down to the wild ocean below (so dogs and children should be closely supervised) and it’s an excellent spot for seabird-watching and seal-spotting, so take binoculars if you can. You might see rock climbers scaling the cliffs too! Take a look at the full route on the Southwest Coast Path website.
This characterful 200 year old pub is situated in the picturesque village of Widecombe in the Moor, surrounded by peaceful moorland with Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor (pun unintended!) near by. It’s a popular spot with Dartmoor walkers and their pooches, with its sheltered garden and tranquil stream outside and a cosy open fire inside. After hours spent hiking the dramatic landscape and wild swimming in secluded ponds, the hearty home-cooked food, real ales and welcoming atmosphere at The Rugglestone is the perfect respite. Just be aware that chickens and ducks roam freely in the gardens so dogs will need to be kept on a lead.
Discover more of Devon’s best pubs to really round off your stay.
This figure-of-eight shaped trail is around 180 miles long, traversing North Devon’s scenic countryside and coastline. The route is mostly smooth, flat and traffic-free, making it perfect for cycling or walking for people of all ages. The 32 mile stretch from Braunton to Meeth is particularly lovely for a leisurely stroll with your canine companion (just make sure you keep them on the lead so they don’t disturb wildlife or cyclists). The route runs alongside the area’s old railway lines from Brauton to Barnstaple, Instow, Bideford, Great Torrington and finally Meeth, with a number of pub and cafe stops for refreshments along the way. If you don’t fancy the full 32 miles, try the first part up to Barnstaple and stop at Fremington Cafe for a cream tea - dogs are allowed in the outside area.
Instow, North Devon
This North Devon village is popular with both local and visiting people-with-pooches. With a backdrop of the rolling hills of Exmoor and views over to the charming Appledore across the estuary, the beach here is part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - it’s a stunning place for a walk, as you’d expect. Except for the southern end where there are some restrictions, the long beach welcomes dogs all year round and is the perfect place to throw a ball while you breathe in the fresh sea air. Once you’ve all burned off some energy there are some lovely waterfront pubs to relax at with a pint or two. Instow Arms gladly accepts doggy guests - they’re known to provide treats at the bar! Make the most of the views from the decking area outside, where there are blankets and heat lamps for cooler days, or umbrellas for shade if the sun’s beating down.
Read all about the many sandy beaches in Devon.
This award-winning attraction and charity is a must-visit for animal lovers. Their sites in Ivybridge (South Devon) and Sidmouth (East Devon) are home to hundreds of rescue donkeys and mules. During your visit you’ll learn all about this fascinating species with talks, donkey-grooming demonstrations and interactive displays - and you’ll even be able to meet and stroke the friendly residents. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on leads! Once you’ve visited the donkeys, your dog will enjoy the walking trails while children can let loose in the maze and farm-themed play area. Entry is free but donations are welcome to help the charity continue its amazing work.
Situated on the Hartland Heritage Coast in North Devon, Clovelly is a picture-perfect 14th Century fishing village, rich in maritime history. Its steep cobbled streets are lined with quaint cottages and flower pots, leading down to the ancient fishing harbour and quay, and it’s completely traffic-free except for donkeys and sledges carrying supplies. There’s an entrance fee for the village but once you’re in there’s plenty to explore, including the Fisherman’s Cottage, Clovelly Court Gardens, Charles Kinglsey Museum, silk and pottery craft workshops and donkey stables. Dogs are welcome in the village on leads - and there’s a small pebble beach where they’re allowed to run around all year round.
Lying in a beautiful deer park on the banks of the River Exe, just a stone’s throw from the city of Exeter, Powderham Castle has over 600 years of history and heritage to explore. It’s well worth going on a guided tour to take you behind the scenes, where you’ll discover secret tunnels and learn all about the castle’s intriguing past. In the grounds, small family members will love Pet’s Corner and the Play Fort complete with a suspension bridge, climbing wall and zip wire. Dogs are very welcome at Powderham on a lead (admission is £1) and they’re allowed everywhere except the Deer Park and Walled Garden.
For a unique and peaceful way to explore Devon and its wildlife, why not try canoeing? Singing Paddles runs guided canoe tours in the stunning Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary, and they have stable canoes that can easily be paddled by two people - with room for a dog! Run by the knowledgeable and experienced Dave Halsall, Singing Paddles tours involve travelling on the water at a leisurely pace, stopping occasionally to talk about the area’s abundant wildlife. There are all sorts of tours to choose from - and on some you’ll stop off at deserted beaches to light fires, have a brew and watch the world go by while your dog can stretch its legs a little.
Branscombe to Beer, East Devon
This 6 mile circular walk is rated as ‘moderate’ by the National Trust, with some uneven terrain - but it’s a stunning route for a walk with more energetic dogs. Starting in the heart of Branscombe village, the scenic countryside route passes by the historic Forge, Old Bakery and Manor Mill before heading towards Branscombe Beach, where you can see the huge anchor of the MSC Napoli which grounded the beach in 2007. It follows the coast path along to the pretty seaside village of Beer, with fantastic views of the white chalky cliffs on the UNESCO Jurassic Coast along the way. The return journey takes you down the wildlife-rich undercliff path back along to Branscombe. Take a look at the full route on the National Trust website.
Find more circular walks in Devon here.
Staying in Devon with your dog
In our Devon collection, we have plenty of beautiful hideaways that will warmly welcome you and your dog. From a bohemian yurt with a hot tub to a tranquil shepherd’s hut in the woods, each of our cosy glamping sites has a unique character and stunning surroundings. Browse all of our dog-friendly Devon glamping accommodation.