Best dog-friendly Lake District and Cumbria attractions holiday cottages

Days out

Best dog-friendly Lake District and Cumbria attractions

Ed Roberts 30 March 2024

Want to find some amazing Lake District attractions to visit with your four-legged friend in Cumbria and the national park? It’s not all about the lakes, though to be fair, they are reason enough to visit. But if you fancy something different to walking, or if you have an older dog whose legs won’t take lots of hilly hikes, head for an attraction where it's not just all about walkies. Hop aboard a vintage railway steam locomotive, ride a launch or visit Beatrix Potter's old summer residence for starters.

We've put together a selection of dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District that will interest both you and Fido, as well as a place to come home to when the day's adventures come to an end. 

All of our cottages in the Lake District and Cumbria are pet friendly, with some welcoming up to five dogs at a time - read on to find out the best places to visit and the most gorgeous cottages to stay in while you're there. And for even more ideas for your dog-friendly Lake District break, check out our complete dog-friendly guide to the Lake District.

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Best family dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District

Discover the best of the Lake District National Park and Cumbria with your dog and your family. The region has lots of family attractions but, sadly, not all of them welcome your four-legged companions along to join in the fun. See below for some great family dog-friendly attractions to enjoy.

The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden | Portinscale

Peter Rabbit at Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden

Spend a day out at The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden on the north-western shore of the famous lake, Derwentwater. Children’s favourite author Beatrix Potter and her family spent many of their summer holidays here and the original kitchen garden was in fact the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in possibly the best book ever, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The homemade cakes are mouthwatering, the afternoon tea sublime and the coffee is the proper stuff. 

  • Why your dog will love this: It’s a chance to put on their best collar and lead combo and show off their good manners as they explore, hoover up the crumbs of your cream tea, and jump aboard the Keswick Launch from Lingholm’s private jetty. An excellent day out all round.
  • Best for: Fans of the famous rabbit and his friends. Little ones will love walking around the walled garden looking out for the statue of Peter Rabbit while older children can read Potter's story in the outdoor gallery. Dogs will love looking for rabbits – no need to spoil their day by telling them they're not real.
  • Stay nearby: Thornthwaite Elm | sleeps 2 dogs + 2 humans

Lowther Castle and Gardens | near Penrith

Lowther Castle seen from under the shade of a fir tree

Over 130 acres of grounds and tranquil gardens are on offer at Lowther Castle, a majestic sandstone fortification near Penrith. The gardens are currently undergoing renovation but dogs on leads can saunter around the grounds imagining that they are king of their very own castle. The estate not only has dramatic ruins and a beautiful outside space, but it also has one of the biggest adventure playgrounds in the land, The Lost Castle. Little ones won’t be bored for a second.

  • Why your dog will love this: They can walk the grounds (on leads) and sit at dedicated dog-friendly tables at the cafe afterwards with their humans. There's nothing better than finishing a scenic walk with a few well-deserved stolen crumbs.
  • Best for: Dogs who believe they should have their own grounds to roam. Human-wise, it's great for little ones who get bored easily on days out; older children will love it here too, as they can discover the history of the castle in The Story of Lowther exhibition. All the family can hire bikes to explore the wider parkland as long as Fido has somebody to keep an eye on him.
  • Stay nearby: Grammar School House | sleeps 2 dogs + 8 humans

Grizedale Forest | Grizedale

Woman with red backpack looks out over the water at Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest is one of our favourite family spots in the Lake District and set between the enchanting lakes of Coniston and Windermere, you'll find an array of waymarked trails to explore, with amazing scenic views of the lakes and mountains as you walk. There are sculptures to find along the way as well as a great new exhibition space. Hire a bike and whizz along the mountain bike trails while your dog and the less adventurous humans have a rest, and don't forget the Segway treks and treetop adventures at Go Ape if you have active kids with you. Looking for some other great dog walks in the area? Check out our guide to the Lake District's best dog walks.

  • Why your dog will love this: The forest is a lovely shady spot for a walk when the sun is out and there are masses of trees to hunt for squirrels. It's also a lovely place for dogs to watch their favourite mini-humans having fun, even if they aren't allowed to join them in the treetops.
  • Best for: Families with both dogs and children of all ages in tow. Everybody can walk around the forest and discover the sculptures, and when the kids are playing, parents and canines can retire to the cafe or picnic areas for a well-deserved bite to eat.
  • Stay nearby:  The Kennels | sleeps 2 dogs + 5 humans

Best historic dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District

Some of the best dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District and Cumbria are places of historic interest. From castles to ruins, to landscaped gardens, see our top picks below for some great Lake District spots to visit with your dog for those with interests in British history.

Muncaster Castle | Ravenglass

Muncaster Castle surrounded by a hilly woodland landscape
Image courtesy of Cumbria Tourism

Take your hound on a historic walk around the 70 acres of breathtaking woodland, gardens and grounds of Muncaster Castle. Like with most castles, non-assistance dogs aren't allowed inside, but the castle makes a wonderful backdrop for scenic walks. Hungry hounds can join you outside at the main cafe or indoors at the Owl Garden Tea Room for a scrumptious biscuit and bowl of fresh water afterwards.

  • Why your dog will love this: There’s a special viewing area where well-behaved canines can watch the ‘Sky Hunters’ bird of prey display as well as catching the daily Wild Heron Feed. For those who don't have a particular interest in our feathered friends (or too much of an interest), the bluebell woods make a brilliant alternative.
  • Best for: Families with children who love animals and nature – The Hawk and Owl Centre is really informative and the displays are excellent. There's also an enchanted trail, the Meadowvole Maze and a fun adventure playground to keep little legs busy too. 
  • Stay nearby:  Park Gate Cottage | sleeps 2 dogs+ 4 humans

Holker Hall and Gardens | Grange-over-Sands

Holker Hall as seen from the ornamental landscaped gardens
Image courtesy of Cumbria Tourism

Holker Hall is a glorious stately home nestled amongst 25 acres of gorgeous gardens, meadows, woodlands and deer park; both dogs and humans will enjoy a visit to this much-loved local gem. There’s a dog-friendly cafe offering fresh local food and mouthwatering homemade cakes as well as a food hall with the estate’s own meats, cheeses and cakes. Those with four legs in tow, however, would be best to fill their own hamper with treats and bring it along to enjoy outside. There are so many things to do in Grange-over-Sands, so be sure to stop by the town too.

  • Why your dog will love this: Simply put, they'll adore the miles of parkland where they can make new holiday chums. When they are finished and need a little refuel, there’s a tap and water bowls in the Cafe Courtyard for post-walk slurps.
  • Best for: Dogs with a taste for the finer things in life and humans who will indulge them. 
  • Stay nearby: Poppy's Nook | sleeps 1 dog + 3 humans

Furness Abbey | Barrow-in-Furness

Furness Abbey on a sunny late afternoon looking west
Image courtesy of Cumbria Tourism

Historic hounds will love a brisk morning walk at this former monastery and beautiful parkland called Furness Abbey. First founded in the 12th century by Stephen, later King of England, it's an idyllic spot to visit. English Heritage have carried out conservation work and excitingly, a hoard of medieval treasures has been found, including an impressive gemstone ring. There's also a picnic area to sit with your canine chum on sunny days and a shop which sells a wide range of gifts, toys, snacks and drinks. 

  • Why your dog will love this: Canines will love having this impressive abbey as a backdrop to their morning stroll – the grounds make an excellent spot for a walk whatever the weather and there's a nearby dog-friendly cafe, Abbey Mill Cafe, for a post-walk snack afterwards.
  • Best for: Dogs with a keen interest in excavation. They are sadly not invited to help uncover the next hoard of treasure, however, and must keep their digging confined to the woods.
  • Stay nearby: Yew Tree Cottage | sleeps 1 dog + 2 humans

Best dog-friendly National Trust attractions in the Lake District

The National Trust has some superb dog-friendly places to visit in the Lake District and Cumbria. See below for some of the most intriguing dog-friendly National Trust properties in Cumbria and the national park. 

Allan Bank | Grasmere

Sleepy Labrador pup snoozing by an open fire

One for Wordsworth fans, Allan Bank is a famous National Trust property which is the former home of the famous Lakes poet. It makes an excellent afternoon out for all the family. Boasting breathtaking views of Grasmere, dog walkers can follow miles of spectacular pathways around Allan Bank and Staward Gorge, then return to the extremely dog-friendly house to get involved in all the different activities on offer.

  • Why your dog will love this: Let's face it, there aren't many places that will allow not only dogs but muddy dogs, to curl up in front of the fire in Wordsworth’s study on a chilly day while the humans quietly read a book.
  • Best for: Bookish hounds who have a taste for romantic Lakes poetry. Children will also love this house which has space to paint, draw and dress up, as well as lots of opportunities to run around the woodland garden, looking out for the famous red squirrels. 
  • Stay nearby:  Beck Head Tarn | sleeps 1 dog + 3 humans

Claife Viewing Station | near Ambleside

The stained glass frames the view across Windermere from Claife Viewing Station
Image courtesy of Cumbria Tourism

This delightful walk will set even the laziest tails wagging. Grab your four-legged friend's favourite lead and stroll along the lakeshore path between Wray Castle and Claife Viewing Station near Ambleside. The views across Lake Windermere are truly amazing – even the most impatient of dogs have been known to just sit and stare.

  • Why your dog will love this: The viewing stations are very dog friendly and there are no restrictions as to where four legs are allowed. Thirsty hounds can stop for a drink at the cafe in the courtyard, where they can persuade their owner to buy some tasty post-walk dog treats for the journey home.
  • Best for: Lazy pooches who love a paddle with a view, but who aren't that keen on long walks. 
  • Stay nearby: The Lodge | sleeps 3 dogs + 5 humans

Sizergh Estate | near Kendal

Brown and white dog on autumn walk in woods

Mucky pups will love the winter walks on offer at the stunning Sizergh Estate near Kendal. Though only assistance dogs are allowed inside the hall, the possibilities for exploring the grounds are endless. Take a wander up to Helsington Barrows or walk the circular 1.5-mile route to Sizergh Fell.

  • Why your dog will love this: Hours of fun on muddy trails – dog bliss. Dogs are welcome inside the cafe and also on the veranda.
  • Best for: Winter wanderers who will love the miles of muddy paths and woodlands to explore. Be careful as livestock and wildlife are both in abundance – dogs will need to be kept on leads.
  • Stay nearby: Top Bank | sleeps 2 dogs + 2 humans

Best quirky dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District

There are lots of unusual things to do in the Lake District and Cumbria with your dog. It's a quirky part of the country with lots of visitor attractions to satisfy those with the most esoteric of tastes. We have compiled a short selection of our favourite unusual dog-friendly places to visit in the Lake District National Park. 

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway | Ravenglass and Eskdale

Brown dog looks at the countryside from the window of a train on the Ravendale and Eskdale Railway

Join the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and discover the Lakes aboard a vintage steam locomotive. Hop aboard La’al Ratty as it’s known by local canines, and choo-choo your way across 7 miles of lush countryside from Ravenside to Dalegarth. Canine tickets carry a small charge (currently £1.50). Also in Ravenglass, there are the ruins of the Roman Bath House, some of the largest intact remains in the British Isles. A trip to the beach is also one of the best dog-friendly things to do in Ravenglass.

  • Why your dog will love this: Train-loving pups can request their favourite walkie spots en route and hop off to discover new sights and smells on one of the many walks. Then jump back on and continue the journey after having a well-deserved drink from one of the water bowls at each station.
  • Best for: Dogs who watch The Railway Children on repeat. Little humans who also love the book will enjoy this activity too.
  • Stay nearby: Carter Ground Barn | sleeps 4 dogs + 8 humans

Lakeland Motor Museum | Newby Bridge

Multiple vintage cars at the Lakeland Motor Museum
Image courtesy of Cumbria Tourism

The Lakeland Motor Museum has a collection of over 30,000 shiny vintage exhibits, including 140 classic cars and motorbikes to peruse, and an exhibition that pays tribute to Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald. The latter had a fatal accident on nearby Coniston Water in a devastating boat crash while attempting to break the world speed record on water in his specially designed Bluebird K7. 

  • Why your dog will love this: Not only can they walk around the museum with their favourite human, but they can also settle down to a bowl of water and a few treats in the Cafe Ambio afterwards.
  • Best for: Petrolhead pooches who love a bit of vintage metal and owners who share this passion.
  • Stay nearby: The Dinky Railway Cottage | sleeps 2 dogs + 6 humans

Keswick Launch | Derwentwater

Picturesque Keswick Launch with a tour boat to its right on Derwentwater

Looking for unusual things to do in Keswick? Well here's somewhere for you and your four-legged friends to discover together. Older dogs and those who can’t walk long distances will love this alternative way of seeing the Lakes. Jump aboard the 50-minute cruise and disembark at one of Derwentwater’s various jetties for a little walk or picnic. There's really no more tranquil way of seeing the beautiful Lake District scenery than on this wooden wonder. Keswick Launch is also something of a local beauty spot that attracts photographers. If you are looking for somewhere to stop and have a bite to eat on busy days out, have a paw through our guide to the most welcoming dog-friendly places to eat in the Lake District.

  • Why your dog will love this: Seeing the sights with your paws up, and somebody else doing the hard work? We think so. 
  • Best for: Families with older dogs and little humans who can't manage long lakeside walks. The cruise is also a great alternative for those with reduced mobility who can use the wheelchair ramp to get down to the landing. Please see accessibility statement here for further details.
  • Stay nearby: 3 Ridgemount | sleeps 1 dog + 4 humans

Stay at a dog-friendly holiday cottage in the Lake District

After long days of sightseeing and exploring, your adventure hounds will need somewhere to rest their weary paws. Bring them to your pick of our selection of self-catering dog-friendly accommodation in the Lake District and make sure that you are ready for driving duties when needed. 

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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