The Best Dog-friendly days out at National Trust Properties

It’s not always easy to plan a day out that is exciting for both dogs and their owners. Unfortunately, a lot of heritage areas have restrictions in place to protect wildlife and historic features. There are some exceptions, though.

Below are some of our favourite dog-friendly National Trust properties for you to explore, many within easy reach of our dog-friendly holiday cottages.

An idyllic Scottish retreat for you and your dog

Located in the Cairngorms National Park, The Mar Lodge Estate is home to 72,000 acres of some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland and provides a range of highland walks to suit all tastes.

The estate doesn’t fit the usual National Trust ‘stately home with formal gardens’ image – visitors instead tend to be more interested in the outlying countryside. Rugged and stunning, the park encompasses remote, wild landscapes; gentle heather moorland; rough juniper scrub; and ancient Caledonian pine forest. Its 15 Munros include four of the five highest mountains in the UK and on walks to the lower lying woodland, you may be lucky enough to spot the red squirrels. Along the riverside walks in the Glens Quoich and Lui, you might even come across one of the famous red deer.

The Linn of Dee and the Linn of Quoich are especially dog-friendly, with car parks for both located on the unclassified road behind the lodge. With such magnificent scenery and varied terrain, the Mar Lodge Estate is just as exciting for dogs as it is for humans.

The unspoilt landscape is beautiful, but be aware that it also means there aren’t too many restrooms or dog bins around! For more information, visit the property’s website.

A stream flows through the spectacular scenery of Scotland's Cairngorm mountains


Explore a dog-friendly stately home in Cheshire

If you’re searching for a dog-friendly stately home site in the North West of England, look no further than Lyme Park in Cheshire. This lovely property is surrounded by gardens, a deer park and moorland. It’s perfect for walks, and dogs are welcome in the park, providing they are considerate to the elegant herds of red and fallow deer.

In fact, dogs are now free to roam the whole 1,300-acre estate. In 2014, the National Trust decided to be more inclusive and allow pets into the gardens at certain times of the year - this year, they’re welcome on the second weekend of each month. Water bowls are available at the on-site information centre, by the Timber Yard Café. More information can be found here.

A panoramic view of Lyme Park stately home and surrounding parkland


Go for a dog-friendly day out in Dorset

Coastal spots often have restrictions in place for dogs, once again to protect local wildlife. This usually means you’re expected to keep your four-legged friend close by and attached to a lead. Studland Beach in Dorset, however, is completely dog-friendly between October and April, so it’s free to explore.

Not only is Studland Beach dog-friendly, it’s a great place for inquisitive canine minds. The wider Purbeck peninsular offers access to vast stretches of countryside, rocky coastlines, scratchy heathland and sandy beaches for your pet to spend their energy. The four-mile beach even shelves gently, meaning it’s safe for your dog to splash around in the waves.

There are a number of designated trails and walkways to enjoy, including the Purbeck Way and the South West Coast Path. Dog bins and free bags are positioned on the beach and in the surrounding area too, so cleaning up after your pooch is easy. Water bowls can also be found at Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach, so it’s impossible to get caught unprepared.

For more information, visit the National Trust website.

A view toward the horizon along Studland beach's coastal path


Walk the dog in Wallington

The Wallington estate in Northumberland has long been a hotspot for dog walkers. Covering 13,000 acres, it has something for everyone, but the informal landscape surrounding the main house is certainly the top choice for canine explorers.

The estate was once owned by the Trevelyan family, who had a fascination with nature. As such, the surrounding grounds feature everything from lawns and lakes to woodland, parkland and farmland – all of which is great for exploring!

Woodland and river walks provide all sorts of sights and smells for dogs to enjoy. Try out the stepping stones across the River Wansbeck and then venture back through the walled garden together – dogs love the variety. For those with more energy, there are more challenging six-mile walks in the surrounding estate.

To find out more about this fantastic dog-friendly National Trust property, visit the website.

A couple walking through the gardens of Wallington estate

image: National Trust Images/John Millar


Enjoy the sights of dog-friendly Lyveden New Bield

Dog-friendly properties in the Northamptonshire area don’t come much better than Lyveden New Bield. This property, situated near Oundle, includes an interesting 17th century Elizabethan manor that, while never completely finished, has remained unchanged since 1605.

The estate’s gardens are some of the oldest in the country, and you and your dog can discover its spiral mounts, the banks of the moat and the orchard. If you’re looking to stretch your own legs, a ramble along the woodland walk or through the Lyveden Way will do the trick perfectly.

While dogs aren’t allowed inside the tea room, there are tie-up spots and water bowls for them in the garden outside, and everywhere else on the estate is accessible. More information can be found here.

A panoramic vieew of Lyveden New Bield summer house and its surrounding parkland


Dog days at Dunster Castle in Somerset

A castle has existed in this spot in Somerset since Norman times at least. It now stands as a medieval gatehouse and a ruined tower displaying evidence of the site’s interesting history. The castle itself also has excellent views thanks to its proximity to the Bristol Channel and the moors of Exmoor.

Though not allowed in the historic castle itself, dogs are welcome in the beautiful grounds and gardens, and they'll really love exploring this estate. There are different and interesting areas to discover, such as a Mediterranean garden and the River Gardens, through which the River Anvil flows – ideal for furry companions to have a quick cooling dip! A one-mile walking route and leisurely romps in the woodland and parkland all promise good fun. Dogs can accompany you to the shop and the stables, or take a wander to the Water Mill tea room where they are more than welcome to join you in the outdoor seating area. Once again, the website has all of the details on this wonderful dog-friendly National Trust property.

Dunster castle and its surrounding grounds


Hoping for a longer stay?

The places above are perfect for a day out, but you can also stay for longer periods at some National Trust sites. Take Bryn Derw in Conwy’s Bodnant Garden, for example – a beautiful dog-friendly cottage with an enclosed garden to boot. In the same part of North Wales, you’ll also find Bryn Rhydd.

Similar levels of beauty and comfort are on offer in Cumbria, at the location of Wythburn Cottage – another dog-friendly cottage with a secure garden for maximum safety. This one’s situated in the secluded grounds of the family-owned Blencowe Hall estate, and right by the National Trust’s Aira Force waterfall.

At Rural Retreats we also have an extensive selection of dog-friendly holiday cottages for you to choose from. Or you can find out what makes an ideal dog-friendly property. Enjoy a break with the whole family, not just those with two legs!

In summary....

Are National Trust Properties dog friendly?

Dog's aren't allowed in all National Trust Properties; houses, mansion, castles and similar buildings are unlikely to allow furry visitors, in order to help preserve their beautiful historic features. However, many have expansive outdoor spaces where you and your pet can share a walk, both on- and off-lead. Please note that Assistance Dogs are allowed in all National Trust houses, restaurants and shops.

Are dogs allowed in National Trust Gardens?

Dogs are welcome in the majority of National Trust gardens and parks. In fact, you can enjoy some fantastic dog walks through some of the UK's best countryside! However, dogs may have to remain on the lead in some areas, in order to protect the local wildlife and livestock. Many also have shaded parking areas, water and drinking bowls, dog mess bags and bins or hitching posts, to make your visit a little bit easier. Check the details for your planned site for more information.

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