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The Canine guide to Exmoor holiday cottages

Destinations

The Canine guide to Exmoor

Kate W 19 April 2021

Running along the magnificent South West coastline and crossing two counties, dog-friendly Exmoor National Park is a fantastic destination for holidays with your faithful hound.

It’s both a romantic destination that is loved by writers and artists – Wordsworth, Southey and Shelley all walked the coast path here – and a playground for sports enthusiasts with surfing and sea kayaking both popular along its rugged beaches.

Explore dog-friendly Exmoor

There’s plenty to do for dogs too who can stretch their legs with long winding walks through reserves and along clifftops. Please ensure you keep your dog on a lead when you’re trekking the magnificent cliffs.

Head to local dog-friendly attractions, enjoy days out with your four-pawed pal by your side, and dine at pubs that welcome both humans and hounds in dog-friendly Exmoor.

You’ll take in two counties as you explore this natural playground – check out our dog-friendly guide to Devon  and our dog-friendly guide to Somerset

Read on for a dramatic coastal dog walk, ancient castle gardens and pubs right by the river. Begin planning an exciting dog-friendly holiday to Exmoor.

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🐾 Top walkies

🐶 Top days out

🏖️ Top beaches

🍴 Top dining spots

🌿 Towns and villages

🏡 Top places to stay

Top walkies on Exmoor

Valley of Rocks
Valley of Rocks

Best for a dramatic coastal dog walk: The Valley of Rocks is an impressive dry valley with towering and unusual rock formations that are thought to have been formed during the last Ice Age.

Spot the famous goats that live and graze along these cliffs and get your heart pumping by peering down the steep drop to the sea and its tumultuous waters below. Take a stroll along the cliffside coast path, but just be sure to keep your dog on a lead during your walk.

Why your dog will love it: Your curious hound is sure to enjoy meeting goats and taking in the incredible surroundings on this dog-friendly walk in Exmoor.

Doone Valley Circuit

Doone Valley Circuit

Best for literary lovers and rural scenery: For something a little more tranquil where your dog can race about to its heart’s content, follow this National Trust Doone Valley circular walk.

Made famous by the novel Lorna Doone, this picturesque route winds alongside the river, past the memorial to Richard Doddridge, and through the earthwork remains of the deserted medieval settlement of Badgworthy. Enjoy woodland and riverside scenery on this Exmoor walk to enjoy with your dog.

Why your dog will love it: History-loving hounds can sniff out the medieval heritage of the area, while you’ll pass through woodland no doubt filled with fallen branches perfect for an impromptu game of fetch.

Wimbleball Lake

Wimbleball Lake

Best waterside walk with dogs: Wimbleball Lake to the south-east of the national park is a scenic dog-walking and popular water sports destination with a café and children’s play area, perfect for a family adventure.

There are a couple of Exmoor dog walks to choose from that wind around the lake, and cycle trails too if you are feeling more active. Take your pick of the short 1.5-mile walk or the longer 9-mile route for serious leg stretches, that both start in the on-site café car park.

Why your dog will love it: The two walks ensure that both dogs who like to enjoy a gentler pace of life and dogs who prefer a real challenge will find a walk to suit them on a day out here.

Top dog-friendly days out on Exmoor

West Somerset Railway

West Somerset Railway

Best for sitting back and taking in the sights: If you’re searching for things to do in Exmoor with dogs, why not hop aboard an old steam train at the West Somerset Railway to see the sights on a trip along the longest heritage railway in England?

Soak up 20 miles on a train track that passes through rural Exmoor villages, past the Bristol Channel, and into the rolling Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Why your dog will love it: It’s a great opportunity for your four-pawed pup to lie down and rest their paws while the world rushes by.

Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps

Best day out for young families: This beauty spot is perfect for paddling with young ones and picnicking on the grassy banks for a relaxing afternoon by the River Barle.

Tarr Steps itself is an ancient 17-span clapper bridge made entirely of stone slabs and boulders that you can walk across, while the surrounding area is a nature reserve with wildlife and walks to enjoy on your visit.

Why your dog will love it: Any water-loving dogs will enjoy having a splash about in the shallow river; just keep an eye on them, especially if you visit after heavy rain.

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle

Best for history buffs and green-fingered gardeners: Another enchanting National Trust site in dog-friendly Exmoor, Dunster Castle welcomes four-legged friends in the grounds, although not inside the castle itself. Luckily, there are lots of beautiful spaces to enjoy within the grounds including the parkland, The River Garden, The South Terrace, and The Keep.

Follow the River Anvil on a walk during your dog-friendly day out in Exmoor, stop by Aunt May's Garden, and spot the highest point on Exmoor - Dunkery Beacon - during your visit.

Why your dog will love it: There are plenty of floral scents to sniff out in the warmer months and space in the parkland to run about.

Top dog-friendly beaches on Exmoor

Porlock Beach

Porlock Beach

Best for bird spotting and views of the Wales coastline: Best accessed from Porlock Weir, a small settlement of old fisherman’s cottages clustered around a harbour, this quiet and stony beach is a lovely place for a stroll with your canine companion and to watch the sun go down in the evenings.

With views across to Wales and a couple of coffee shops where you can sit outside and soak up the scenery, it’s a great choice for a relaxed day by the sea.

Why your dog will love it: The beach is backed by Porlock Salt Marsh so there’s an opportunity for wildlife walks and bird spotting during your day out to Porlock Weir.

Minehead Beach

Dog-frienldy Minehead beach

Best traditional sandy beach: This wonderful dog-friendly beach on Exmoor offers a wide, sandy expanse at the foot of North Hill for dogs to race around.

Minehead’s beach is a beautiful spot any time of year, with some annual restrictions but dogs are still allowed in the east area during the summer months.

Why your dog will love it: Your pup can dig in the sand and scamper about on this pretty beach.

Lynmouth Beach

Lynmouth beach

Best family beach for rock pooling: Beneath the towering Exmoor cliffs so prominent along Lynmouth’s stretch of coastline lies the pretty 500-metre-long Lynmouth Beach.

It’s a shingle beach and, when the tide is out, it’s a great place for some rock pooling! Peer into the pools and see what coastal critters you can spot on your trip to this dog-friendly beach.

Why your dog will love it: You can pop into town afterwards to pick up fish and chips or stop by a café and your dog will no doubt be happy to get a couple of titbits.   

Top dog-friendly pubs on Exmoor

The Bridge Inn, Dulverton

The Bridge Inn, Dulverton

Best for a meet-up with friends: Bring your four-pawed pup along to this rustic dog-friendly pub on Exmoor for a meal out during your break. Found in the small town of Dulverton, The Bridge Inn is a wonderful place for a meal after braving the Exmoor heaths.

From Devon crab cakes to Somerset brie, there’s a wide selection of local produce on the menu which changes with the seasons.

Why your dog will love it: Your pup might be lucky enough to be offered a gravy bone from behind the bar.

The Exmoor Forest Inn

The Exmoor Forest Inn

Best for relaxed family dining: This is a welcoming country pub near the River Barle, with a beer garden with benches and an atmospheric inside seating space.

At The Exmoor Forest Inn, they aim to use West Country produce wherever possible; their menu includes award-winning fresh fish, local meat and game dishes.

Why your dog will love it: The Exmoor Forest Inn is perfectly positioned for your group to head out on a short walk along the banks of the river to work up your appetite.

The Stag Hunters Inn

The Stag Hunters Inn

Best for waterside dining: Sit in the traditional pub surroundings or outside on the banks of the East Lyn River at The Stag Hunters Inn.

More wonderful local produce including seafood, poultry, game and Exmoor venison can be found on their menu, and if you’re hoping for a refreshing drink, why not try the highly regarded Exmoor Real Ale?

Why your dog will love it: There’s seating right beside the river, the perfect place for your pup to have a snooze while the humans dine together.

Dog-friendly towns and villages on Exmoor

Lynton and Lynmouth

Lynmouth Harbour

Best for coastal breaks: The twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth sit right on the coast with dog-friendly Exmoor attractions like the Valley of Rocks and the Lynton Cliff Railway to discover.

Visit either of these delightful villages and ensure you head out on a walk along the South West Coast Path before stopping by a seaside café for a bite to eat.

Why your dog will love them: The South West Coast Path is the ultimate walking route at 630 miles long – there’s no need to walk the entire length during your holiday though!

Allerford

Allerford

Best for a tranquil setting: The pretty, traditional Exmoor village is a lovely place for a river walk and to take in thatched cottages and rural scenery. It’s an ancient settlement, having a mention in the Doomsday Book, and there’s a picturesque 15th-century packhorse bridge the crosses the river in the village's heart.

From Allerford, you could walk up the popular Selworthy Beacon, a hill with views of the sea, or you could stroll down to the coastal hamlet of Bossington where there’s a small pebble beach.

Why your dog will love it: This quiet, peaceful setting is an ideal place for older dogs who prefer gentle trips out.

Dulverton

Dulverton

Best for easy access to amenities: A historic market town down on the southern border of the national park, Dulverton is a local hub with independent shops, award-winning restaurants and the chance for cycling the local trails and fishing on the River Barle.

The National Park Information Centre is in the centre of the town and the perfect place to begin planning an exciting, adventure-filled holiday itinerary.

Why your dog will love it: This Exmoor hub is just the place to begin your walking holiday travels, and a great place to start is with a stroll alongside the River Barle.

Top dog-friendly places to stay on Exmoor

High House, Dunster | sleeps 2 dogs and 10 humans

High House, Dunster in Exmoor

Best for big group celebrations: This grand, stylish, large holiday retreat boasts exquisite décor from original wooden beams to deep-buttoned sofas with a chic blue and grey colour palette.

This retreat is perfect for entertaining guests, with a host of amenities. Soak in the hot tub, enjoy a game of pool, table tennis or darts by the minibar or step up your game in the Moroccan-inspired fitness room – everyone can find a corner of this cottage they’ll love.

Why your dog will love it: There’s a wonderful lawn outside with space for your canine companion to play while the humans in your party relax on the comfy outdoor furniture.


Gulls Way, Combe Martin | sleeps 2 dogs and 6 humans

Gulls Way, Combe Martin in Exmoor

Best for a family retreat: Enjoy a dog-friendly holiday with fantastic views of the Combe Martin beach and cliffs through the windows and from the private decked area.

This luxury, detached bungalow is a great choice for families or groups of friends planning to explore the great Exmoor coastline with their four-pawed pals in tow.

Why your dog will love it: The chance to get up and enjoy a seaside stroll every morning will make this holiday extra special.


Exmoor Hideaway, Exmoor | sleeps 2 dogs and 2 humans

Exmoor Hideaway, Exmoor

Best for a romantic break: Escape to this stylish bolthole just east of Challacombe in the heart of Exmoor countryside for wild rambles and active days out and about.

It’s a studio-style cottage set on a working farm so you can be assured of a tranquil, back-to-nature getaway. Step out on rural walks from the back door before returning to relax in front of a film on the Smart TV.

Why your dog will love it: There are plenty of country walks near the cottage, while it  also has a rug right in front of the wood burner that dogs can stretch out on for an evening slumber.


Get inspired by browsing through our collection of pet-friendly cottages and start looking forward to your dog-friendly holiday to Exmoor National Park. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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