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Dog Friendly Days Out in Devon

Unspoilt rural scenery, stunning coastline and some of the best dog friendly attractions in the UK make Devon the ideal destination for a holiday or day out with your dog.

The two National Parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon offer 635 square miles of rugged landscape to explore with your dog. A National Park since 1954, Exmoor has over 600 rights of way, taking visitors through high moorland, deep wooded valleys and past dramatic coastline. You may even catch a glimpse of wild Exmoor ponies.

The Two Moors Way is a popular long distance walking route between Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor and Lynmouth on the north coast of Exmoor. It consists of a network of walking routes across a total length of 102 miles. The trails are comprehensively waymarked, except for the open moorland sections, and are well served by local buses.

Visitors to Lynmouth can take a unique water powered Victorian Cliff Railway to Lynton and enjoy spectacular views of the North Devon coast. Your dog can travel with you and help you to eat your ice cream when you reach the licensed cafe at the top. A return train ticket for your dog costs just £1.50. Round off your visit with a trip to sandy Lynmouth Beach. The beach backed by wooded hills and dogs are welcome all year.

Not far from the coastal villages of Lynmouth and Lynton is the Doone Valley, so named as this is where RD Blackmore set the famous novel Lorna Doone. The heart of Lorna Doone country is the tiny village of Malmshead, which lies deep in the valley below County Gate, on Exmoor. It's a magical place for a walk and dogs are welcome in the garden of Lorna Doone Farm at Malmshead.

Close to Exmoor and Barnstaple is Arlington Court and Carriage Museum. Dogs are welcome on leads in the grounds, gardens and inside the carriage museum in the former stables. There are delightful circular walks of different lengths marked around the National Trust estate, which take you through woodland next to the river.

There are lots of dog friendly attractions in and around Dartmoor National Park that the whole family will enjoy. Canonteign Falls in Christow is England's highest waterfall and is situated within Dartmoor. Nature and wildlife trails pass through woodland, wetland, parkland and around tranquil lakes. Dogs are welcome on leads and can join you for a bite to eat in the cafe courtyard.

The River Dart Country Park in Ashburton is well worth a visit. It has 90 acres of lakes, parkland and woods with the River Dart flowing through the park. Dogs are welcome on a lead and can also stay at the award-winning campsite. Dogs on leads are also very welcome in the delightful gardens and rhododendron valley surrounding Castle Drogo in Drewsteignton.

Becky Falls is a woodland park with a beautiful waterfall and walking trails to suit all levels of fitness. There is a small petting zoo to entertain the children. Dogs are welcome on a lead but wear sensible shoes if it's rainy as some of the steeper paths can be slippy in wet weather. A good dog friendly attraction to visit if the weather is not kind is South Devon Railway. You and your dog can ride on a steam train on a former Great Western Railway branch line through the River Dart valley between Buckfastleigh and Totnes.

The 95 miles of coastline from East Devon to Dorset is England's first natural World Heritage Site and is known as The Jurassic Coast. So a visit to Devon wouldn't be complete without a trip to the seaside. The good news is that there are many beaches in Devon that allow dogs all year round so your pooch can join you for a paddle in the sea.

The three mile stretch of wide golden sand at Woolacombe is very popular with families and is easy to access. The facilities in the centre of Woolacombe are excellent and there are plenty of opportunities to sample some delicious Devon ice cream or a cream tea. As you approach the centre of the beach, dogs have to be on a lead from April to September. If you park at the Marine Drive car park you can walk down through the sand dunes straight onto a large part of the beach that dogs are allowed to explore off lead.
Saunton Sands is a wide and long golden stretch of sand backed by dunes and a golf course. It costs £5 to park for the day. Dogs are welcome on the entire beach but have to stay on a lead until you pass the beach huts.

Churston Cove at Brixham is a sheltered cove accessed either along the coastal path or through Churston Grove woods, following the John Musgrove Heritage trail. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round and will enjoy a walk through the woods to get to the shingle beach. The Churston Court Inn welcomes dogs in the bar so you can enjoy a meal when you have worked up a hearty appetite.

With such a great range of dog friendly places to visit, isn't it time you planned your next holiday or day trip to Devon?

Louise Dolan
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