Top dog-friendly days out at National Trust parks

The National Trust has some wonderful dog-friendly days out. Here’s our pick of the top 7 venues whether you have four legs or two.
Attingham ©National Trust Images - Annapurna Mellor

From coast and countryside to nature reserves, parklands and historic gardens, the National Trust and Forthglade have worked together to improve facilities at these places to give every dog (and its owner) a great day out.

Improvements include dog-washing areas, drinking stations and increased waste bins, as well as better signage and downloadable walks for dog walkers.

The dog-friendly initiative has been supported by adventurer and TV presenter Simon Reeve who said:

“I love spending time in the great outdoors with my dogs, especially at this time of year when walks can refresh the mind and inspire ambitions and goals for the year ahead. I think it’s wonderful that the team at Forthglade and the National Trust are working together to ensure dogs are even more welcome at the places the Trust care for.

But I also know not everyone wants a dog bounding around them, so by providing information about access for dogs at all Trust places this project is a win-win for everyone.”

From January 2023 every single National Trust place will carry a ‘pawprint rating’ or a description on its property webpage, and within the new Trust handbook highlighting the access arrangements for dogs.

Just look out for the new pawprint rating; three paws: best, two paws: good and one paw: standard [1].

We’ve selected our favourite dog-friendly National Trust venues to visit, rated with three pawprints.

South WestHeddon Valley, Devon

Heddon Valley ©National Trust Images - John Millar

Heddon Valley, set in the West Exmoor coast, was the favourite landscape of the Romantic Poets including Wordsworth and Coleridge. When you arrive, why not follow the deep, lush wooded river valley down to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth beach – a great walk for all the family. Or explore further east to Woody Bay, a quiet and wooded cove with spectacular views over the Bristol Channel. To the west, the Hangman Hills boast towering sea cliffs and beautiful moorland scenery, offering energetic walking and wonderful views over Combe Martin. As well as spectacular coastal and woodland walks, there is also a pantry (selling hot drinks and ice creams, including dog ice cream), car park and toilets in Heddon Valley itself. Dogs are welcome in most places, including the take-away café, The Pantry and the Hunter’s Inn beer garden. Dogs must be kept on leads throughout the year, to help protect wildlife that call the valley home.

South East – Morden Hall Park, London

Morden Hall ©National Trust Images John Miller

When you step through the gates, you’d be forgiven for imagining yourself to be in the middle of the English countryside. Surrounded by meadows, trees and the gentle sounds of birdsong and running water, the park offers a rare sense of discovery and a chance to get away from it all. The River Wandle meanders through the park creating a haven for wildlife. The snuff mills, which generated the park’s income in the past, survive to this day. Enjoy a cuppa and bite to eat in the dog friendly Stableyard Café.

Dogs welcome throughout the park, but please keep them on a short lead in the ‘heart’ of the park.

East – Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Sutton Hoo ©National Trust Images - John Millar

This hauntingly beautiful 255 acre estate, with far-reaching views over the River Deben, is home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Walk around the Royal Burial Ground and enjoy vistas from the 17-metre viewing tower to discover the history of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasured possessions, find out about the archaeological work that took place here in Tranmer House, the former home of Edith Pretty, and visit the High Hall exhibition to see replica and original objects.

Dogs are welcome to explore all the estate walks. Please keep your dog on a short lead at all times, though – this is to protect the sheep and their lambs that are currently grazing on site. Dogs are allowed inside the shop and café; the latter has designated seating. Simply look out for the pawprint logo on the table or ask a member of the team.

MidlandsClumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Clumber ©National Trust Images - Annapurna Mellor

Carved out of the ancient forests of Sherwood, Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore. Walking routes around the magnificent lake are extra special in winter, especially on misty mornings when fog surrounds the Gothic chapel. A must-do for all dog owners is Central Bark, the dog-friendly café situated in the heart of Clumber Park. As well as hot and cold refreshments the café sells dog treats and accessories.

Dogs welcome on short leads.

North – Sticklebarn and the Langdales, Cumbria

Sticklebarn ©National Trust ImagesArnhel de Serra

Forged by fire and ice, the Langdales are dramatic to say the least. Home to the majestic Langdale Pikes and mountain tarns, this is a natural playground. Sticklebarn sits at the heart of miles of walking routes, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as real ale and great coffee to fuel up with before your adventure or relax with  afterwards. On cooler days, the fires will be lit, and there’s boardgames and books for you to borrow while you enjoy some refreshment. There are also towels for drying off your dog, along with a clothes dryer over the fireplace where you can hang wet coats up to dry.

Wales – Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire 

Dinefwr ©National Trust Images - James Dobson

A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years. Dinefwr is an iconic place in the history of Wales. Standing proudly at the heart of the estate is Newton House, a family home for over three hundred years to the descendants of Lord Rhys, the powerful Prince of the Welsh Kingdom of the Deheubarth. Well behaved dogs on short leads are welcome on the ground floor of the house. Enjoy the best of what the estate has to offer on a walk designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. See some of the oldest trees in Wales framing stunning views of Newton House, hear or catch sight of the fallow deer, discover an amazing variety of plants and insects, and watch out for ravens and red kites which nest in the trees around you.  

Dogs welcome on short leads.

Northern Ireland – Rowallane Garden, County Down

Rowallane ©National Trust Images - Annapurna Mellor

Carved from the County Down landscape, Rowallane has grown from 19th century beginnings and remains place where you can leave the outside world behind and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. A mix of formal and informal spaces, all dog-friendly, with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. Take a stroll among winter flowering viburnums, mahonia and the fragrant flowers of witch hazel. Also look out for sarcococca; otherwise aptly known as the Christmas Box, with its strong scent.

Dogs welcome on short leads.

The pawprint rating system

Best: Three pawprints
Three pawprints shows the very best places you can visit for a day with your dog. You’ll be able to take your dog to most areas, including indoors for a cup of tea and a treat. There’ll be clearly signed dog zones and dog-friendly experiences.

Good: Two pawprints
These places have water bowls, dog bins and dog-friendly walks. You’ll be able to take your dog into some areas, but not everywhere. If there’s a food and beverage outlet, you can have a cup of tea with them, probably outside.

Standard: One pawprint
Dogs are welcome here, but facilities are limited. They’ll be able to stretch their legs in the car park and walk in the nearby open spaces, depending on the season.

If you enjoyed Top dog-friendly days out at National Trust parks, you’ll find more dog-friendly walks on our outdoor leisure channel.

Tags: , Last modified: January 23, 2023

Written by 6:20 pm Outdoor leisure