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The Canine guide to Woolacombe holiday cottages

Towns and cities

The Canine guide to Woolacombe

Kate W 19 April 2023

Regularly winning awards for being home to one of the top beaches in the UK, dog-friendly Woolacombe is a picturesque place to visit with your faithful friend on a holiday in Devon.  

The glistening, golden sands of Woolacombe Beach draw surfers and sailors, families and couples, dogs and humans, to this beautiful destination year on year. The village of Woolacombe itself is full of character and charm, with pet-friendly pubs and cafes to dine in and plenty of dog-friendly places to visit within the surrounding landscape.

Venture along the coast on a dog walk and take in captivating views, head to the local surfer joint for a meal out with your faithful friend snoozing beneath the table, and take a ride on a cliff railway to experience the magnitude of the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you simply can’t wait to find a place to stay in Devon, browse our collection of Woolacombe pet-friendly cottages below to feel inspired.


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Our top dog-friendly beaches near Woolacombe

Woolacombe Sands

Woolacombe Sands

Best day out at the seaside: Woolacombe is, of course, best known for its spectacular sandy beach that draws families and water sports enthusiasts from all over the UK. Woolacombe Bay is dog friendly, and although pups are banned on some areas during the summer, there is always a part that welcomes dogs on leads for a walk beside the sea.

As Woolacombe Sands welcomes dogs and has won numerous awards for its beauty and quality, it is ideal for whatever you’re up to. Whether surfing, enjoying a family picnic, or taking a long coastal dog walk, dog-friendly Woolacombe Beach is a brilliant place to begin your North Devon travels.  

Why your dog will love it: What’s not to love about one of the UK’s best beaches? Wide open sands, lapping waves and big skies provide a scenic destination for fun days by the sea – whether four-legged or two!


Grunta Beach

Grunta Beach

Best secret beach for dogs: This dog-friendly beach sits right next to Woolacombe yet offers an entirely different feel. It’s a tiny cove, the sand is only revealed when the tide is out, and it’s tricky to access, yet all of this means you might be lucky enough to have this tranquil secret beach to yourself on a visit. There are plenty of rock pools you might like to peer into while you wander, or you could sit on the sand and soak up the serenity of this quiet corner of Devon.

It lies right below Mortehoe and it is believed that the name comes from a time that a ship carrying a cargo of livestock was wrecked here. The villagers awoke to grunts and discovered the beach full of pigs.

Why your dog will love it: Dogs are welcome all year round and, as you’re unlikely to see many people, your dog can race about, chasing waves and balls as much as they please!


Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands

Best for meeting up with other four-legged friends: A 10-mile drive down the coast sits arguably the most dog-friendly beach in North Devon: Saunton Sands. During the summer, your dog will need to be on a lead as you walk to the dog-friendly section of beach, but then there’s a fantastic 3.5-mile stretch of golden sand where your four-pawed pal can run free at any time of the year.

Stretch legs and paws at this dog-friendly beach near Woolacombe before stopping by the Beachside Grill restaurant for dinner on the balcony overlooking the beautiful beach.

Why your dog will love it: As Saunton Sands is such a dog-friendly beach, chances are, your dog will make a few holiday pals while you explore the sands.


Great dog-friendly days out in Woolacombe

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

Best for local heritage and lovely views: If you’re searching for things to do in Woolacombe with dogs, the Lynton Cliff Railway is the place to start! Drive 20 miles through the remarkable scenery of the Exmoor National Park to reach this cliffside railway for fantastic views and a taste of the local heritage.

The lift was first opened in 1890 and provided a valuable way to travel and carry goods between Lynmouth and Lynton due to the steep incline between the two. Today, it’s a wonderful way for visitors to take in this beautiful town and coastline, and the family pet is welcome to join you on the railway.

Why your dog will love it: Any dog that enjoys surveying his local territory will be in awe of the views you’ll encounter on the ascent.


Marwood Hill Garden

Marwood Hill Garden

Best place for plant lovers: Boasting 20 acres of private garden, complete with three magnificent lakes, Marwood Hill Garden is a jewel in the North Devon countryside and dogs on leads are welcome into the gardens. Explore the pathways through flowerbeds and shrubbery in this delightful garden that was created in the 1950s and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the place.

Pop into the tearoom while here which offers wonderful views across the valley and tasty sandwiches and cake, and perhaps purchase a plant from the garden to take home with you. Fido may not be too happy sharing his boot space with a new plant though!

Why your dog will love it: With endless scents, textures and colours to discover, a garden is a delight for investigative dogs.


Valley of Rocks

Valley of Rocks

Best and most dramatic natural landscape to explore: An intriguing dry valley with impressive coastal views and its own herd of wild goats, the Valley of Rocks is an excellent place to explore with the dog by your side.

It’s thought that during the last Ice Age, the ice sheet prevented the East Lyn River from reaching the sea via its usual route, so it was diverted and created the Valley of Rocks. When the ice melted, the river resumed its course but this magnificent valley remained. Take in the unique rock formations throughout this landscape and uncover caves dotted along the cliffs as you wander.

Why your dog will love it: There’s plenty to discover in this peculiar landscape – just make sure your curious canine is on a lead when you approach those impressive cliffs.


Wonderful dog walks near Woolacombe

Baggy Point to Woolacombe Circular Walk

Baggy Point to Woolacombe Circular Walk

Best route for a long walk and birdwatching: Leading you out to one of two dramatic headlands that frame dog-friendly Woolacombe Bay and down past the rolling sand dunes of Woolacombe Warren, Baggy Point to Woolacombe Circular Walk is a great 10-mile route for wildlife and birdwatchers who can spot a range of species here.

Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the lesser yellowlegs, grey phalarope and the western cattle egret are a few of the bird species you may spot during a ramble along this National Trust trail.

Why your dog will love: Your four-legged friend will spend all his or her time sniffing out curious wildlife trails and taking in the incredible surroundings as you explore this walking route.


Morte Point and Bull Point Walk

Morte Point and Bull Point Walk

Best for local heritage and spotting seals: Walk alongside ghosts of sailors past on this trail from Morte Point and Bull Point Walk, where smugglers and wreckers often took advantage of the dangerous rocky headlands.

Look out for seals playing in the waves or basking on the rocks along this wildlife-rich route. Dramatic cliffs and rocks give way to the flat horizon of the sea, providing excellent scenery during your ramble and there’s also a dog-friendly café you might like to stop by at Mortehoe - Miss Fea's Café.

Why your dog will love it: The chance to stretch their paws on a scenic route will be plenty of incentive. No doubt your dog will be intrigued by the seals too, although you may prefer to keep your dog on a lead when walking near the magnificent cliffs.


Heddon Valley to Heddon’s Mouth

Heddon Valley to Heddon’s Mouth

Best for a dog-friendly forest walk: A favourite among the Romantic poets, particularly Wordsworth and Coleridge, the woodland valley of Heddon Valley to Heddon’s Mouth is a stunning place for a long rambling walk.

If you’ve got family tagging along, you may prefer to head straight to Heddon’s Mouth, the shorter 2-mile route, where a pebbly beach creates a pretty haven for swimming and rock pooling. Others with more energy might wish to continue east to the quiet forested cove of Woody Bay, or walk west to Hangman Hills where towering sea cliffs and moorland scenery await.

Why your dog will love it: Taking in the smells of the sea while clambering over the pebbles at Heddon’s Mouth is sure to be a hit, while the woodland walks are full of intriguing smells to sniff out, birds to bark at and sticks to chase.


Best dog-friendly pubs and restaurants to dine in

The Tide Inn

The Tide Inn

Best for dinner with a view: Just down the road from the beach, The Tide Inn is a great spot for dogs and their owners to chill out surrounded by a lively atmosphere and good food. There’s an open fire to keep guests and staff toasty and warm during the chilly months and, in the summer, there’s space to eat outside on the balcony and take in the view over a meal.

Their menu includes pub classics, a seafood selection, and tasty desserts – we’ve heard a rumour that the rice pudding with salted caramel twist is particularly delicious!

Why your dog will love it: The balcony is the perfect spot for a midday snooze with a view while their owner enjoys lunch.  


The Beach House Restaurant

The Beach House Restaurant

Best for fresh, locally caught seafood: With succulent fresh produce and views of the beach, The Beach House Restaurant is a wonderful choice for a light lunch or late-night dinner by the beach in this spectacular location. Head to this dog-friendly restaurant in Woolacombe for a relaxed vibe, as the beach theme running throughout the restaurant creates a wonderfully tranquil space to sit and chat with friends and family during your holiday.

From steak to oysters to scrummy chocolate pudding, the menu will satisfy all tastes and even your faithful friend will be delighted at the opportunity to get a few tasty scraps after dinner.

Why your dog will love it: We reckon any leftover fresh seafood will be more than welcome in your dog’s bowl when you return to your cottage.


The Red Barn

The Red Barn

Best for a surfer culture: Playing heavily on the surf culture that resides in parts of the village, The Red Barn is a true surfer's haven with good food, good drink and good music late into the evening.

If you’re a keen surfer, take a look up while enjoying your meal and you’ll see the collection of classic surfboards on display in the rafters. This dog-friendly pub in Woolacombe offers up curry, burgers and sausages for a simple, mouth-watering selection and a laidback atmosphere for a catch-up with friends.

Why your dog will love it: It’s a sociable space so no doubt your dog will be off and making friends before you can say ‘sausages’!


Local towns and villages near Woolacombe to investigate with your dog

Croyde

Croyde

Best for another great day at the beach: Another favourite with surfers and a fantastic choice for families too, Croyde Beach is renowned for its impressive waves that roll in off the Atlantic and onto the soft sandy shores.

Aside from the exquisite beach, Croyde has marvellous moorland to roam and great foodie spots for dogs and their owners to discover during a morning trip. Strike out on a coastal walk in this beauty spot before heading to local’s favourite, The Thatch, for a dog-friendly meal in this charming seaside village.

Why your dog will love it: While there is a dog ban during the summer, over autumn, winter and spring the fantastic beach at Croyde, complete with dunes to traverse, is a wonderful place for a dog-friendly day out.


Barnstaple

Barnstaple

Best for shopping and dining: If you are keen to do a bit of shopping and experience the energy of a busy hub, Barnstaple is the largest town in North Devon and 14 miles from Woolacombe.

Once a river port, Barnstaple sits on the mighty River Taw and still retains its medieval character in the interesting architecture throughout. This town is ideal for picking up fresh produce, browsing for clothes and keepsakes, or spending an evening out during your North Devon holiday.

Why your dog will love it: Any sociable hounds will enjoy the lively atmosphere and seeing the people bustling about this busy town.


Clovelly

Clovelly

Best for a day in a traditional old English village: Quaint Clovelly is renowned for its beauty and the steep main street that runs down to the sea. Many visitors every year walk down and choose to hop aboard the Land Rover service for the return trip rather than take on the climb.

It’s a picturesque village with independent shops and eateries scattered down the main road for you to peruse while there, cobbled streets adding to the charm, and wonderful architecture to admire as you explore.

Why your dog will love it: The small beach right at the bottom of the hill is a treat and any energetic doggos will relish the steep slopes.


Dog-friendly holidays in Woolacombe

Dog-friendly holiday cottages in Woolacombe

Escape to dog-friendly Woolacombe where pups and their humans can enjoy an enchanting break by the sea.

Splash through ocean waves at one of the UK’s top beaches, dine in dog-friendly surfer joints, and take in the captivating panoramas of the region’s magnificent natural spaces during your trip. Search in our collection for your perfect dog-friendly cottage in Woolacombe today and begin planning your coastal break.

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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