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Dog-Friendly Dorset: A Jurassic Gem, Far From the Madding Crowd

Dog-friendly Dorset

This is a guest post from Jacqueline Lambert of World Wide Walkies

Often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours, Devon and Cornwall, I would like to introduce the dog-friendly delights of Dorset, my adopted county on the South Coast of England.

Over half of Dorset is an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB). It is home to ancient woodland, picture-perfect villages and Britain’s only natural World Heritage Site – the 185-million-year-old Jurassic Coast. Dorset’s 100-mile coastline boasts several award-winning sandy beaches – which get 24% more sunshine and 28 days less rain than the UK average. At night, its Dark Skies leave you wondering at the heavens.

Dog-friendly Dorset

Jackie’s Cavapoos enjoying the beaches in Dorset © Jacqueline Lambert

Dorset loves a festival; flowers, music, the arts, fossils, food, nettle eating and the internationally renowned Bournemouth Air Festival, Great Dorset Steam Fair and Dorset Knob Throwing.

Dorset’s landscapes inspired writer Thomas Hardy, its shady smugglers featured in J. Meade Faulkner’s atmospheric novel ‘Moonfleet’ and T.E. Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – sought sanctuary from fame at ‘Clouds Hill’.

Fewer than 2-hours’ drive from London, with no motorway and not many major roads, Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ still describes Dorset perfectly. Escape into Dorset’s countryside and you will probably have it to yourself.

And Dorset has motivated me to write – because it is an absolutely mind-bogglingly wonderful place to explore with your dog!

Mudeford Beach Huts in Dorset © Jacqueline Lambert

Britain – A Dog-Lover’s Paradise

Britons are a nation of dog lovers– 9-million dogs are owned by 25% of British households. Travelnuity’s Travelling in the UK with a Dog explains the basics. UK Laws that All Dog Owners Should Know is also useful.

Dog-Friendly Dining Out in Dorset

Dog-friendly dining Dorset

Inside a dog-friendly Dorset pub © Jacqueline Lambert

British pubs traditionally welcome dogs and often serve excellent food. Plug ‘Dorset’ into DoggiePubs to find hundreds of reviewed pubs or try Dog Friendly Eating Out. My prized poochy-pitstops are:

Exporing Wareham Forest © Jacqueline Lambert

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Dorset

The Fab Four at Hengistbury Head © Jacqueline Lambert

Dorset has oodles on offer. The major attractions are well-covered elsewhere and here is a list of Dorset’s dog-friendly attractions. The following are our top tail-waggers:

A walk on Southbourne Beach © Jacqueline Lambert

At Heaven’s Gate, Swyre Head, along the SW Coast Path © Jacqueline Lambert

  • Badbury Rings – a substantial iron-age hill fort near the pretty town of Wimborne Minster. Consider a post-prehistory cuppa and wander (leads on) in the gardens at Kingston Lacy.
  • The Cerne Abbas Giant – in an AONB, consider whether the 180ft high, naked chalk giant is a 1500-year-old Hercules or fertility god – or a 17th-century caricature of Olive Cromwell. Nearby, paddle in the Piddle Valley and explore Tolpuddle to learn about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the birth of Trade Unions.

The hilltop Corfe Castle © Jacqueline Lambert

  • Corfe Castle – a fairy-tale village dominated by a dramatic, ruined, hilltop castle with miles of walks. Dogs on leads are welcome in the castle, most pubs and tea rooms and on the Corfe-Swanage steam train.

Jurassic Coast Highlights

Near the Portland Bill Lighthouse, along the Jurassic Coast © Jacqueline Lambert

  • Old Harry Rocks – magical chalk cliffs and obelisks with views of Poole Harbour. Start or end at the 16th-century Bankes Arms, whose large garden overlooks Studland Beach. (Studland has seasonal dog restrictions – and a naturist area.)
  • Dancing Ledge – don’t miss the quirky Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers.

Outside the Square and Compass Pub © Jacqueline Lambert

  • Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door – busy, commercial and sleeping dogs will miss getting a parking space, but the shell-shaped bay and rock arch is a must-see. It’s Dorset, so leave the castle and car park and have the coast to yourself.
  • Tyneham Ghost Village – a fascinating place where time stopped in 1943. The houses and school remain exactly as they were over 70-years ago, when villagers were evacuated to allow training of Allied Forces. There are walks if you can drag yourself away. Due to firing on the Lulworth Ranges, check opening times.
  • Golden Cap – see the Jurassic Coast from 190m above the sea.
  • Lyme Regis – if you saw Meryl Streep in ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ you will have seen Lyme Regis’ famous ‘Cobb’. ‘The Pearl of Dorset’ is famed for fossils; 200-years ago, Mary Anning discovered several rare, complete dinosaur skeletons. Expect more spectacular scenery and plenty of walking.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Dorset

We tour in a caravan. All Camping and Caravanning Club and Caravan and Motorhome Club sites welcome dogs free-of-charge. Individual pet-policies apply to other campsites.

For more pet-friendly accommodation, see Visit Dorset and Dog friendly hotels in Dorset. The Dog Friendly Britain and Dog Friendly UK databases are searchable by location.

Sunset from Hengistbury Head © Jacqueline Lambert

Dorset is home when I am not touring with my Husband and four Cavapoos. However, having visited six continents, I can still firmly say that my favourite view IN THE WORLD is the 360-degree panorama from the top of Hengistbury Head.


Jackie Lambert

Author Bio

Jacqueline Lambert’s blog www.worldwidewalkies.com details her travels in Europe with her husband and four dogs. It has been featured in ‘Dog Friendly’ magazine and the ‘Eurotunnel Le Shuttle’ newsletter. Jacqueline has contributed guest blogs to dog and travel websites at home and abroad and writes newsletters, web content and articles on windsurfing for the UK’s National Watersports Festival.

Jacqueline’s series of books; ‘Adventure Caravanning with Dogs’ have all received five-star reviews on Amazon and are available worldwide as both eBooks or Paperbacks. ‘Year 1 – Fur Babies in France – From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream’ describes giving up work to tour full-time and an exploration of the back roads of France. Regular Amazon bestseller ‘Dog on the Rhine – From Rat Race to Road Trip’ follows a more ambitious jaunt through Germany, The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. ‘Dogs ‘n’ Dracula – a Romance with Romania’ will be available in mid-2019.

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Visit Dorset with a dog

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