Home to England’s oldest oak forest, the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is a pup’s paradise of leaves to scamper through, sticks to gather and streams to bound across. And not only is there a whopping 42 square miles of unspoilt woodland to roam with your top dog, but there is also an abundance of history to uncover as well as pet-friendly attractions, eateries and furnomenal places to stay.
From canoeing along the majestic River Wye which snakes its way through the lush, wooded valley to tail-wagging adventures onboard heritage steam trains, we have sniffed out some of the very best things to do with your happy hound in the dog-friendly Forest of Dean.
What have we got to get tails wagging?
Click to fetch the Forest of Dean’s…
🐶 Top days out
🐾 Top walkies
🍴 Top dining spots
🏡 Top places to stay
Great dog-friendly days out in the Forest of Dean
Dean Forest Railway
Best for scenic scampers: If there’s one thing certain to get your pup bouncing with delight during Forest of Dean dog-friendly holidays, it’s a magical ride onboard a heritage steam train. The Dean Forest Railway chugs through 8.5 miles of woodland and countryside, with five stops en route for you to hop off and sniff out the beautiful local area. Uncover winding woodland walkies and cosy country pubs, or venture down to the Severn Estuary to explore Lydney Harbour with its fantastic views across the Severn.
Why your dog will love it: Four-legged passengers get their own stamped dog tickets, on each station platform there are doggie water bowls, and if you’re lucky, you might catch one of the ‘dogs ride free’ events which occur throughout the year.
Best for furry water babies: If your pack is feeling adventurous, why not treat them to a glide down the River Wye onboard a canoe? Wye Adventures offers a host of outdoor pursuits, with the highlight for tufty-pawed explorers being their range of thrilling canoe trips. An experienced guide will lead you down the river where there is so much beauty and abundant wildlife to admire.
Why your dog will love it: Fido is sure to get excited with his role as chief navigator while you do all the hard work!
Best for countryside capers: A visit to Lydney Park is a wonderful family day out in the dog-friendly Forest of Dean. This 17th-century country estate that surrounds Lydney House welcomes happy hounds on a lead to scamper through its colourful gardens. Wander beneath mighty oak and chestnut trees and sniff out flowering cherries, magnolias and drifts of scented spring bulbs. Delve deeper into the grounds and discover an 8-acre woodland garden before seeking out the Roman ruins, including a fascinating temple.
Why your dog will love it: As well as lots of nooks and crannies to explore, canines will delight in hunting for the ‘Lydney Dog’, an impressive piece of Romano-British sculpture created in cast bronze which has become a symbol of the estate.
Wonderful dog-friendly walks in the Forest of Dean
Best for arty antics: Perhaps one of the most pup-ular Forest of Dean dog walks is the 4.5-mile-long Sculpture Trail. Featuring stunning sculptures created by artists to interpret the forest environment, this trail provides a unique opportunity to walk through the woodlands with your dog and discover art along the way. Highlights include a 15ft-high stained-glass window suspended from the tree canopy which you can walk beneath, and a series of 20 sleepers placed on a former railway line, beautifully carved with images of the forest.
Why your dog will love it: As well as the sculptures, there are lakes and ponds hidden away within the trees to find, plus a café where pups can enjoy dog biscuits and bowls brimming with water after their adventures.
Mallards Pike Lake
Best for waterside walkies: Mallards Pike Lake is a natural oasis where woofers can revel in a peaceful waterside wander or venture into the surrounding woodland for a spot of stick chasing. There are several walking trails to choose from here, including an accessible 0.5-mile path suitable for wheelchair users, a 1.8-mile trail leading to the lovely picnic site of Wenchford, and the three tougher Soudley Circle walks, which can all be combined into a scenic 10-mile hike if your pack has the stamina.
Why your dog will love it: There is a designated ‘dog dip’ area where playful pups can bound down the gentle slope and into the lake for a refreshing doggy paddle.
Best for wildlife wanders: A host of Forest of Dean dog-friendly walks await at Symonds Yat. A short walk from the car park is Symonds Yat Rock, an incredible lookout point with astounding views over the Wye Valley. Peregrine falcons nest in the cliffs here and during the summer you can catch a glimpse of them through the telescopes set up by the RSPB. From here, there’s a great choice of trails through the woodland to suit canine companions of all ages and walking abilities.
Why your dog will love it: There’s a little cafe that will bring you water for your pup while you enjoy a well-earned picnic on one of the benches after your walk.
Top dog-friendly places to eat and drink in the Forest of Dean
The Saracens Head
Best for dining with a view: Set on the tranquil banks of the River Wye, The Saracens Head is one of the top dog-friendly pubs in the Forest of Dean. For humans, there’s a great choice of seasonal homecooked meals, and for doggie diners, there are snacks available at the bar and plenty of bowls for water.
Why your dog will love it: Pups are welcome inside and out, and in the summer, they will go barking mad for the terrace where they can sit and watch the boats drift by on the river.
The White Horse at Staunton
Best for a Sunday roast: Offering a warm welcome to walkers and their canine counterparts, The White Horse at Staunton has built a reputation for good food and excellent service. Relax with a traditional roast and a pint of real ale after a chilly wintry walk, or on a sunny day, opt for a wood-fired pizza in the beer garden.
Why your dog will love it: There’s always plenty of fuss behind the ears in this friendly country pub.
The Woodman Inn
Best for hearty pub grub: Nestled in the picturesque village of Parkend, The Woodman Inn is the perfect place to rest feet and paws after a blissful country ramble. This traditional country inn offers a wonderful menu of wholesome pub classics, with the wild boar burger served with homemade Woodyslaw, chunky chips, relish and pickle being a particular highlight.
Why your dog will love it: The welcoming atmosphere is second to none and there are plenty of spots for Rover to enjoy a snooze, inside or out.
Exciting dog-friendly Forest of Dean cottages to stay in
The best dog-friendly cottage for a romantic retreat
Little Holdings: Sleeps 2 dogs and 2 humans
With a private hot tub and walks on the doorstep, this traditional stone barn is an idyllic bolthole for a romantic escape with the hounds in tow. Sizzle a feast on the BBQ after adventures in the surrounding countryside before snuggling up with a film in the cosy lounge.
The best dog-friendly cottage for walking
Boxbush Farm Cottage: Sleeps 1 dog and 4 humans
If you’re looking for pet-friendly holidays in the Forest of Dean with outdoor thrills right on the doorstep then this single-storey cottage is a perfect choice. Symonds Yat Rock and the River Wye are just over a mile away for tail-wagging escapades.
The best dog-friendly cottage for a group getaway
Blistors Farm The Bull Pen: Sleeps 3 dogs and 9 humans
Treat the whole pack to a fun-filled break at this former bullpen with a hot tub. After Fido has discovered his complimentary dog biscuits, there are 2 acres of an enclosed field dedicated to doggy exercise and games of fetch, or you could venture 4 miles to the Secret Forest for plenty more stick-chasing excitement.
Enjoy a dog-friendly holiday in the Forest of Dean
For the ultimate backdrop to your staycation, choose one of our self-catering dog-friendly holiday cottages in the Forest of Dean. Whether you are travelling as a couple, a family or a group of friends, you’ll find a wide range of pet-friendly accommodation within our collection which will place you perfectly for memorable holidays in this glorious part of Gloucestershire.
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.