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5 Dog Walks in the South West

26 Jun 2024 |

If you’re looking for a UK spot that’s incredibly dog-friendly, offers a variety of walks and has some of the best scenic views in the country, the South West is right up there. With hills, clifftops, sea views, beach walks, wildlife and tranquil spots, there’s a walk for just about everyone.

Of course, each walk is perfect for dogs but with some of the more challenging walks, you might need to assess whether you and your dog can handle it.

We’ve rounded up 5 of our favourite dog walks in the South West, perfect for a summer’s morning or evening or for gathering the family together on a weekend.

Porthkidney Beach, Cornwall

If you’re looking for a chilled walk, head to Porthkidney Beach, which is only a short drive from St Ives. This 1-2 mile walk is one of the easiest on our list so it’s perfect for those days when you need to get in a substantial walk but it doesn’t feel too strenuous.

We recommend parking near St Uny Lelant Church and following the old railway line until you find yourself on Hayle Sands beach. Keep following the path and you’ll find yourself on Porthkidney Beach. Alternatively, if you follow the road around to the coast, there is a car park for Porthkidney Sands. There is also a train to Lelant or Carbis Bay so you could visit on a day trip from elsewhere. Both stops are within walking distance of either side of the beach. There aren’t many facilities close by so if you plan on making a day of it, stock up with picnic supplies and water.

The beach itself is a mile long, making it a shorter walk for most. You could always drive towards St Ives if you’re looking for an afternoon of tourist activities too or for fish and chips for a fun day out! If you want to walk further, simply follow the South West Coast Path to get your heart rate up!

Be aware that it’s a very popular beach for families in the area so will get busier during peak summer holiday times, especially for parking. However, it never really feels too crowded at any point because it’s such a vast space, with beaches on either side.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

If you’re looking for epic scenery, Cheddar Gorge is up there with some of the best views across the UK. The north side of the site is owned by the National Trust but unless you’re looking to explore the attractions, it’s still a free walk around the clifftops.

Here, you’ll find lots of specialised plants and wildlife from Cheddar pink flowers to Soay sheep and primitive goats. If you’re a keen photographer, you’ll definitely get an incredible mix of nature and scenic shots during this walk.

Whilst there are plenty of paths to follow on this route, there is some woodland ground to navigate through. That means you’ll need sturdy footwear, such as walking boots, on your feet. Don’t turn up in your new white sneakers unless you want to return with a muddy brown pair!

Start this walk at the National Trust Centre at the base of the gorge before following the signs up the hill and through the woods (another steep walk). The path takes you along the Cheddar Cliffs before getting to Black Rock, where you’ll find some incredible views from up here. There is a diversion in place from May to September 2024 for the circular walk but you can find more details on their website.

Branscombe to Beer, Devon

If you’re looking for a varied walk, the Branscombe to Beer section of the South West Coastal Path is the dog walk for you and your pooch. It’s around three miles long as you turn around and return to Branscombe

Start in Branscombe and use the National Trust car park if there’s space. For this walk, you follow the coastal path to and from Beer but you can follow the circular route through Beer and onto Paizen Lane for a longer route back. You can even catch the 899 bus back too if you’re all walked out! Alternatively, you can park in Beer instead and do the route in the opposite direction.

You can even make this a day out and spend some time in Beer, where there are plenty of eateries to try. From local cafes to pubs and don’t forget the fish and chips, there’s a choice for everyone. There are more facilities in Beer than Branscombe, with toilets, shops and some tourist attractions.

This dog walk takes you through fields and up over the hills, around the cliff tops and through grassy verges, by the ocean, and a beach walk so there’s something for everyone. Your dog will love exploring the various smells along the way as well.

Dancing Ledge walk, Swanage, Dorset

Another challenging dog walk is the Dancing Ledge walk in Swanage, Dorset. This walk in particular is very hilly throughout and is near the cliffs on the Isle of Purbeck. However, you’ll be rewarded if you make it to the sea with some incredible views. The 5.5-mile circular route will definitely get your heart rate up

If you park in the Durlston Country Park’s car park, there is a cost (around £6 for the day). Whilst there is some road parking on Durlston Road, it goes quickly and will add an extra half a mile onto your route. Be aware that there are no facilities along the route but there are plenty in the country park, with toilets, a cafe and a visitors centre. There’s also a water refill station, perfect for your stainless steel reusable water bottle.

For those who love a more remote and quieter route, this is perfect for you. It’s the perfect spot for a summer morning before the weather gets too hot. The challenging walk isn’t ideal for a summer heatwave so definitely bear that in mind in planning. There are lots of hills and muddy terrain to navigate through as well as unsealed paths so you’ll need to be prepared for that. You’ll also encounter quite a few wooden stiles on this walk so it’s not for those with limited mobility.

Wistman’s Wood Walk, Dartmoor, Devon

The Wistman’s Wood and Crockern Tor walk is one of many walks in Dartmoor but it’s one of the lesser-known ones. You’ll discover that it’s popular with local folk but it never seems to be too busy, even on a summer weekend. However, due to an increase in visitors, they ask that you don’t walk directly through the woods anymore. This is to preserve the habitats of the animals, trees and wildlife living there. Instead, there are clear signposts directing you around the outsides of the woods instead.

There are over 368 square miles of open moorlands, forest and river valleys to explore so there is always a new section to explore for you and your dog. The main route also takes you to the top of Longaford Tors, which is very steep. Please be aware of this as it’s not the best walk for those who don’t feel too steady on their feet.

This 5-mile route begins at the Two Bridges Hotel, where you follow the trail along the West Dart River to the Longaford Tors (this part is quite steep) before heading back down via Littaford and Crockern Tors.

It’s a popular spot for photographers because the woods are so ethereal and magical. You can still get some amazing imagery from the outskirts of the woods.

Out of the 5 dog walks in the South West we’ve chosen, there’s a mixed bag in terms of views and length of the walk. The South West is such a beautiful and vast area of the country that we could recommend at least another five in another post!

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