Britain’s best dog-friendly beaches

Paul Horsman
Written by: Paul Horsman
Posted on: 30 June 2016

The British coastline is underrated.

Sure, some of our declining seaside towns can’t compete with lavish resorts dotted on a paradise island, but many are home to some beautiful beaches, hidden coves and soaring cliff tops that provide a pretty postcard picture.

However, only a relatively small number welcomes man’s best friend. And those that do usually have restrictions in place throughout the summer, meaning dogs are either banned for half the year or must be kept on a lead.

So we decided to seek out some of the best British beaches where you can walk your dog whatever time of year it is. But before we sneak a peak, let’s make sure you’re top dog when it comes to beach etiquette:

  • Be considerate. Just because your dog is allowed off the lead, doesn’t mean others should tolerate naughty behaviour. Constant barking, begging for food and charging around at full speed are considered bad manners. And sunbathers rarely find wet dogs trampling over them cute.
  • Get rid of your dog’s waste. That doesn’t mean burying it in the sand or flinging it into the sea. As always, bring poop bags, scoop it up and carry it with you until you reach the next dog waste disposal bin.
  • Keep your dog under control. If you haven’t mastered the recall, or your pup doesn’t quite respond to basic commands yet, delay the beach until you’ve sharpened those essential skills.

If you’re confident you have a well-behaved hound, it’s time to find a beach. Here are five to help you get started…

1. Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales

Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales

Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales

This spectacular sweep of coastline regularly ranks highly in visitor reviews and opinion polls. Its striking backdrop has also featured in several TV programmes and music videos, as well as the opening 2012 Olympic ceremony.

Best of all, this three-mile stretch of sand welcomes dogs all year long. Just keep an eye on them when it comes to the steep walk down to the beach, as well as on the cliff tops where many different types of birds nest.

2. Formby, Liverpool

Formby, Liverpool

Formby, Liverpool

Offering acres of woodland and miles of sandy beach, Formby is one of the few places on the Sefton Coast without seasonal restrictions for dogs.

But it doesn’t stop there. With self-filling water bowls located in the car park, poop bags available on request at the entrance and designated dog-friendly picnic areas, this a particularly thoughtful location. Just return the favour by respecting the "keep on lead" rule in any of the marked forest squirrel areas.

3. Gairloch Beach, Scottish Highlands

Gairloch Beach, Scottish Highlands

Gairloch Beach, Scottish Highlands

If you’re exploring this beautiful part of the country with friends or family, pooch included, make sure you check out this sheltered and secluded beach on the north east Scottish coastline.

Not only are dogs welcome all year round, but it’s practically untouched by travellers. So don’t be surprised if you have the soft sands and rugged mountain scenery to yourself. The sunsets aren’t bad either.

4. Sandymouth, Cornwall

Sandymouth, Cornwall

Sandymouth, Cornwall

If you’re into surfing then you’ve probably already heard of Sandymouth, a huge expanse of beach that lives up to its name. But it doesn’t only accept those who come accompanied with a surfboard. Tail waggers (and their owners) are also welcome throughout the year.

It’s easy to see why it’s popular — the beach is accessible with good parking and facilities. And if you do fancy a change from the surfer scene, just head up to the coastal path along the awesome cliff top.

5. Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Another hotspot for surfers and dog walkers alike is Freshwater West. The sandy beach is wide enough to accommodate both – so don’t worry about overcrowding here – and it has the added benefit of a freshwater stream for thirsty dogs to drink from.

Combine your time here with a trek along the coastal path to another dog-friendly beach, West Angle Bay, and you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views en-route. But don’t let that be your only reward; the nine-mile trek can be quite tough at times, so pack plenty of refreshments.

Keep your dog safe on the beach

Once you’ve decided on a beach to visit with your dog, make sure you’re prepared so the trip is an enjoyable one for you both…

  • Beware of the sun. Like humans, dogs can suffer when running around in the heat for too long. Take plenty of fresh water and a bowl with you, limit their exposure to the sun and ask your vet for advice on zinc–free sunblock for their ears and nose.
  • Beware of the beach. Not everyone is environmentally conscious. Keep an eye out for fishhooks, litter and broken glass. And remember that strenuous exercise, especially on soft sand, can easily result in pulled tendons or ligaments — try not to let your dog overdo it.
  • Beware of the water. The same can be said for swimming. Although a great form of exercise, most dogs will tire easily when using new muscles. And as tempting as it might be for them to drink the seawater, too much will lead to dehydration, diarrhoea and vomiting. The salt and other minerals from the sea can also damage your dog’s coat, so be sure to rinse off at the end of the day.

For more tips, guides and advice on how to keep your dog happy and healthy, check out these articles:

Basic dog grooming tips
Protect your pet from ticks
Take care of your dog’s gums
Why pets need insurance
How to look after your puppy

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