The Garden of England, as Kent is often known, is not just for scenery-loving humans. It also makes a great escape for those with four legs and a wet nose, who will love its impressive stretch of coastline and myriad of country walking trails. While scampering through silky dunes, running across the sands and splashing about in the surf is any canine's holiday dream, we've heard on the dogvine that they are also partial to a pretty village or seaside town with a dog-friendly pub or two for post-walkie snacks and a bowl of water. Kent has so many chocolate-box villages to discover, ancient market towns to explore and seaside resorts to take the pups to as well as a whole host of dog-friendly attractions. What's more, it's also home to a spectacular cathedral city for those hounds who would prefer a more cosmopolitan getaway. Yes, Afghans - we're talking about you!
To this end, we have compiled a list of our favourite experiences across dog-friendly Kent including walks, pet-friendly days out and places to stop and have a bite to eat, all ready to welcome you and your canine chums with open paws - have a read below to pick the perfect one for your whole tribe.
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The best W-A-L-K-I-E-S in Kent
Kent has so much to offer those with collar and lead at the ready. A beautiful stretch of coastline snaking its way down from the Thames Estuary in the north, it passes the upmarket fishing towns of Whitstable and Seasalter and the tourist hot spots of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, taking in the wide expanse of desert at Dungeness and coming to a halt just before the surfer's paradise at Camber Sands in East Sussex. It's not just beach, however, Kent is also home to the hilly Wealdway footpath and the great flats of Romney Marsh, as well as a number of sedate riverside strolls and fabulous park walks - there really is something for everybody.
Here are three of the best dog walks in Kent:
Dungeness, Romney Marsh
If you've got a dog who is expecting blankets of sand to bounce through, then you may need to send them a few miles east to Camber Sands - this stunning beach is strictly for those who don't mind the feel of shingle under their paws! Famous for being the UK's only desert, it is also a National Nature Reserve with a myriad of interesting plant species and wildlife. We warn you - it is bleak but there is something truly ethereal about the almost deserted single road that leads down to the mighty power stations situated on the sea edge.
Reculver Country Park, Herne Bay
Situated on the North Kent coast between Herne Bay and Margate, Reculver offers proper coastal walking with a view. With 26 hectares to discover, dogs on leads can follow the Saxon Shore Trail along the top of the cliffs, from where they'll be able to gaze out to sea and across to the ancient ruins of Reculver Towers, perched on the edge of the cliffs. There are open spaces to let exuberant dogs off the lead but bear in mind the clifftops at all times - best to keep inquisitive canines attached until you get well inland.
Cranbrook Walk, Kent Weald
Head to the Weald to treat your pup to some of Kent's prettiest countryside. There's only so much sea air a dog can take, and this gentle circular walk in the Kentish Weald countryside is sure to delight dogs who like a slower pace of life. That said, it is a 3-mile walk so dogs need to be fit, although there's nothing stopping our older companions doing just a short part of the route. The walk takes you through historic rural villages including pretty Sissinghurst with its glorious National Trust Castle Garden, the former home of authors Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson.
Ulti-mutt dog-friendly beaches in Kent
With over 200 miles of coastline, Kent is home to more than 50 beaches, attracting thousands of dogs and their lucky humans every year to enjoy nosing through rock pools, demolishing abandoned sandcastles (abandoned sandcastles, we said, Mutley) and frolicking through the waves. While there are some restrictions in summer, as there are on many family-friendly sandy beaches across the UK, all bets are off during the winter, when leads can be tossed aside with abandon and humans left to catch up as their salty sea dogs get busy making new holiday chums.
Take a peek at our three best dog-friendly beaches:
Shakespeare Beach, near Dover
You'll find a lot of shingle beaches rather than sandy along the Kent coast - we say just go with it and enjoy them anyway! Shakespeare Beach near Dover is one such beach but as the tide goes out, huge swathes of sand are uncovered so that pups can have a proper run and enjoy making pawprints in the wet sand. This beach is also famously known as the starting point for swims across the English Channel so keep a lookout for intrepid swimmers - just make sure that Rover doesn't think it's you in the water or you may be swimming after him and setting your own world record. Just a point to be aware of re access: there are quite a few steps down to the beach (100 plus to be precise) so it's not one for the older dog or those with joint problems.
Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs
Despite its rather unattractive name, if you're looking for a secluded bay to take the dogs for a run, this one is a top choice. Welcoming sandy mutts all year round and with dog-friendly cafés nearby, it's a great place to set yourself up with a warming hot chocolate before walking all the way along the beach to Ramsgate at low tide (check tide timetables so that you are not cut off at high tide). It's also backed by a wide promenade which leads to Broadstairs, so if your dog prefers to do a little people-watching or cannot cope with the steep path from the clifftop, take him for a lovely seaside stroll along the prom instead.
Whitstable West, Whitstable
This superb stretch of shingle, divided by wooden groynes jutting out into the ocean, runs south of Whitstable Harbour to neighbouring Seasalter. The mile-long walk will take you to one of this part of Kent's coolest areas - home to the Michelin-starred Sportsman pub - and back again. The quintessentially English seaside resort that is Whitstable is a superb choice for those who like their beach holidays quirky and charming rather than packed with amusements and fairground rides. Best of all, it's extremely dog friendly.
Sniff out the best attractions across Kent
A large number of Kent's attractions are more than happy to welcome those with four legs as well as two. From walking around romantic moated castles and vineyards to boat trips and vintage steam trains that show off the best of Kent's breathtaking scenery, you'll always find a place where your pooch is as welcome as you are.
Here are three of the best dog-friendly places to visit when you've got a pup at foot:
Biddenden Vineyard, Biddenden
While we're not suggesting that our canine friends would enjoy an afternoon sampling the excellent wines at Biddenden Vineyard, they will like the fact that they can accompany their humans on this exciting excursion. If they are lucky, it may even be followed by a walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside! Start by exploring the vines on a self-guided tour, then head to the shop for a tasting and finish off with a purchase or two in the shop. When you've put the cases of wine safely in the boot, head off to explore the pretty village with your patient pup or enjoy a pint and bowl of water in the pet-friendly Three Chimney's Pub just out of the village.
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, New Romney
Train-loving hounds should jump aboard this cute-as-can-be 15in narrow-gauge light steam miniature railway, where they'll receive a free doggy day pass to see the charming Kent countryside at their leisure. The train will take you along the southern Kent coastline from Hythe, slowly choo-chooing across the plains of Romney Marsh, to finish at Dungeness where you can stop off for a walk on the beach and some fish and chips at the pup-friendly Brittania pub.
Dover Castle, Dover
Dogs on leads are welcome at the famous White Cliffs of Dover, and in the grounds of Dover Castle too. Venture behind the battlements and take a leisurely stroll under the watchful gaze of this most magnificent of English fortresses. Buy an ice cream from the café in nice weather and sit awhile up on the cliffs with your canine chum, watching the ferries gliding to and fro across the English Channel. If you want to extend your day out, pop along to Shakespeare Beach afterwards and see if you can spot any swimmers practising for a cross-channel swim.
Let Fido take the lead to the best places to eat across Kent
You won't have to go far to find a quintessentially English country pub with roses around the door, a traditional seaside café serving the best pre-walk breakfast or a dog-friendly restaurant which allows well-behaved hounds in for dinner. You and your pups won't have rumbling tummies for long when you come to Kent - that we can promise you!
Check out three of the best dog-friendly pubs and restaurants to grab a bite to eat:
The Sportsman, Seasalter
Whitstable and Seasalter are well-known for their pet-friendly establishments - dotted across the town and on the beach, you'll always find a place to dine with your four-legged chum after a long beach walk. The Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter is one such establishment - an iconic upmarket seaside gastropub, it's as down to earth as they come, welcoming everybody from local farmers to food writers who come down from London to see what all the fuss is about. The chefs use the best fresh produce including locally-caught seafood from along the North Kent coastline and they even have their own homemade salt. If that's not commitment, we don't know what is!
The Fitzwalter Arms, Goodnestone
Bookish dogs will love an evening out at this exquisite 16th-century pub nestled in the pretty village of Goodnestone, on the Goodnestone Estate. One of Jane Austin's favourite places to visit, it's a great place to rest weary paws, whether sitting beside the roaring fire in the colder months or stretching out in the pretty gardens on warmer summer nights. Have a stroll around the pretty village if you've time before.
The Tiger Inn, Stowting
Canines taking their humans for a hike across the North or Wye Downs, a day out in Canterbury or a long run along the beach at Folkestone, should make it their mission to get to this atmospheric 17th-century pub for a post-walk dinner. With crackling log fires, dried hops hanging down from the ceiling and antique furniture, this traditional pub will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time. Locally-sourced dishes from surrounding farms are lovingly prepared by the pub's chef and dogs are welcome to join their humans in the bar to try them out.
Sit, stay and lie down in Kent's most dog-friendly cottages
When you can walk no more, and eyelids are starting to close, both you and your pups will need somewhere to rest awhile. We have a superb variety of self-catering pet-friendly holiday cottages across Kent, which welcome furry family members too.
Here are three of our best pup-friendly holiday cottages:
Apartment 15, Tunbridge Wells (sleeps 1 dog and 2 humans)
City slickers will love this fabulous contemporary apartment in the Royal Spa town of Tunbridge Wells. Situated right in the heart of the town, two humans and one lucky pupper can sit back in style, catching up on cuddles and getting collars and leads ready for a walk around the town. On the doorstep of Groombridge Place, Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and a short drive to the doggy paradises of Bewl Water and Bedgebury Pinetum, you'll have lots of super attractions and places to visit which will keep Fido happy and entertained for hours.
Little Hamilton, Brookland (sleeps 1 dog and 2 humans)
You'll get some serious pup points when you book a few days away at Little Hamilton. This stylish retreat is full of character and charm and is just the spot for a romantic break for three. Located on the edge of a sleepy Kent village, you will be near to countless dog-friendly towns and villages, including Rye, Appledore and Sissinghurst, as well as two local pubs if you want to take Fido for a nice long walk with a treat at the end of it! If that's not enough, there's a heated swimming pool and private hot tub to sink into after long days out exploring the Kent and Sussex countryside. Paws not allowed though!
The Old Army Cinema, near Ashford (sleeps 3 dogs and 9 humans)
For something a little bigger that will also house up to three four-legged furries, The Old Army Cinema near Ashford is an excellent choice. Once a former church, this handsome property has been renovated to provide an elegant and stylish base for a group holiday in Kent. Relax in front of the toasty wood burner on cold evenings or settle back into the hot tub for some stargazing under the clear Kent skies on long summer nights. When the sun comes up (or goes down) take eager paws down to the soft sands of Dymchurch, 8 miles away, where they can splash about in the surf and play frisbee to their hearts' content. Not a bad way to spend a holiday with the humans.
Come and stay with us in Kent!
If you are looking for a holiday for you and your favourite family member, check out our complete range of dog-friendly accommodation across Kent to discover which paw-friendly pads are best for you.
We have everything for the holidaying hound, from cute country retreats for just the three of you to huge farmhouses and country manors for sparkling family reunions where everybody should be included. Check out our collection of dog-friendly properties all over Kent to find your perfect holiday to the south.