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  • Writer's pictureHelen Laing

5 Dog-friendly Things to Do in North Devon

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Updated June 2023

The Beach Retreats dog-friendly self-catering accommodation in North Devon are among the best places to stay in Woolacombe, especially if you're traveling with a friend of the four-legged variety. We have fresh air adventures aplenty, great dog-friendly beaches, naughty-but-nice dog-friendly cafes... essentially there is something to keep everybody happy.

We're dog lovers and dog owners ourselves, so to help you discover the most bow-WOW places to visit, we've collected together this pawsome selection so you can make the most of your time together on the coast. From sandy beaches to cliff-side walks...

1. Take a road trip to Clovelly

Once owned by the Queen of England, this pretty village has no vehicular access and clings to a 400ft cliff. Start your dog-friendly day out by parking at the Visitor Centre - Clovelly is pedestrianized, so much so that donkeys & sledges bring the deliveries! Dogs are welcome everywhere in the village, as long as they are on a lead. There is a small entrance fee to pay to enter this private village, but it's well worth it as it includes parking, entrance to the village and entrance to Clovelly Court Gardens.

Brace your paws - there's a steep, cobbled path to follow towards the centre of the village. Once you reach the centre, you'll realise that a visit to Clovelly is like a little journey back in time. Take a wander around the quintessentially English quay. There's a pebbly dog-friendly beach with a waterfall that tumbles down the cliff.

Head back up the cobbles and there's the Hobby Trail that takes you on a scenic route around the top of the village with panoramic views. This is usually pretty quiet, so perfect for nervous pups, as is Clovelly Court Gardens. All in all, this is a lovely day out, about an hour's drive from the Beach Retreats so make a day of it - there are plenty of dog-friendly places to eat.

2. Visit Saunton Sands Beach

Saunton Sands Beach, around 20 minutes' drive from the Beach Retreats, is a hugely dog friendly beach that welcomes waggy tails all year round. There's a straightforward zoning system in place that means that you only need to keep Fido on his lead for the first five minutes of your walk, after which point there's 3.5 miles of free-run sand! The shallow waters are perfect for water dogs to run, splash and play, too.

If you want to avoid the busiest part of the beach, take the path from the car park which takes you over the sand dunes and further up the beach. This is perfect for nervous or reactive pups who prefer to avoid the crowds. You'll be able to get to the quietest section a bit faster, without having to dodge too many families, picnics and other waggy tail distractions.

Other dog-friendly beaches in North Devon include Woolacombe Beach, Barricane Beach and Putsborough Beach - all are within walking distance of our Woolacombe Beach Retreats self-catering accommodation. Be sure to check the beach rules before you head onto the sands - some have dog-friendly zoning in place.

3. Go for Hot Chocolate in the Bay Brasserie

Both family-friendly and dog-friendly, there's so much to love in this beachside dining den. Perfect for when you have been for a bound around on the dog-friendly sands of Woolacombe beach, you can tuck into the most luxurious hot chocolate - with chocolate beans, cream and marshmallows included. Or why not try the hand-stretched pizzas (stonebaked in the restaurant's pizza oven) and the locally-sourced gourmet burgers, are great too...there is something for all appetites.

Located within our sister property - The Woolacombe Bay Hotel - the Bay Brasserie is just a short stroll from your Beach Retreat. On sunny days, gorgeous foodie fodder can be enjoyed al-fresco on the sea-view lawns. Or, when the winds whip the coast, you can snuggle up in the warmth of the indoor courtyard - it's dog-friendly (your four-legged friend will adore the heated floor!)

Other dog-friendly restaurants nearby include the Porthole Cafe just above Woolacombe (we passionately recommend their lemon and poppy seed muffins), and - if you're a fish fan - you must try The Beach House.

4. Walk from Woolacombe to Potter's Hill

The South West Coast Path is a 630 mile adventure along the coast line of England's south west peninsula. Walking the entire path will take around 56 days, but we've got a great slice of it right on our doorstep.

This circular route can be described as steep but sweet. Indeed, it's well worth a brief huff and puff for brilliant views of Morte Point and Woolacombe, along with an abundance of coastal flora and fauna. The lush coastal grasslands are especially rich for smaller birds, mammals and reptiles.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3 miles

Start: Marine Drive car park hut, grid ref SS458433

From the beginning of Marine Drive car park, walk up the grassy bank and through a field gate and follow the footpath up hill, signed by a finger post saying Public Footpath. Continue up the hill as the path winds its way around Potters Hill.

Bear left at the first waymark you reach. When you reach the second waymark, head straight on, continuing on up to Woolacombe Down.

Go through the bridlegate and follow the track up, passing a bench with fantastic views over to Baggy Point and Hartland.

Continue along this track until you reach another field gate. Go through the gate and head down hill.

Take the footpath to the right, waymarked to Marine Drive. When you reach Marine Drive go left for 20 metres then take the footpath down into the dunes on your right.

When you reach the dunes follow the South West Coast Path signs to the right. Where the path forks, take the right hand fork which will take you through the dunes and back to your starting point.

Get the full walking trail here.

5. Experience Exmoor

Take a trip to one of the UK's wildest coasts, and then follow the rivers and valleys that climb through the wooded combes to the high moorlands. Discover the hidden history that lies undisturbed bathed in natural beauty and spot the wildlife that thrives in this amazing landscape. There are miles and miles of waggy tail adventures waiting to be had, plus oodles of great wild swimming spots - for you and pup!

These are some of our favourite dog-friendly walks on Exmoor, all are circular routes:

Dog-friendly accommodation in Woolacombe

The Beach Retreats offer dog-friendly breaks in Woolacombe all year round. With our epic coastal location, this is paws down one of the best dog-friendly places to stay in Devon. We've got free parking near the beach (so you can pack all your pup's favourite toys, bed, and treats), and each Flat or Apartment is just a short waggy tail walk from the beach.

Packing your Pup

Up to 2 well-behaved dogs can stay with you in our ground floor self-catering homes (flats & apartments). A charge of £50 per week for up to 2 dogs applies; please let us know when you book that you need dog-friendly accommodation. Find out more about dog-friendly stays...

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