Tried and tested, and much loved, by Irish terrier Chutney from Charmouth and his humans.

Great British Life: The stunning view along the Jurassic Coast from Golden Cap. The stunning view along the Jurassic Coast from Golden Cap. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Charmouth to Seatown via Golden Cap

This challenging 4-mile trek involves a steep climb up to Golden Cap, the highest point on England’s south coast standing 191 metres above sea level. On a clear day, however, the spectacular panoramic views across Lyme Bay will be worth your effort, and dogs can be off the lead for most of this route.

Starting in Charmouth, situated at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, follow the well-signposted path from the river bridge at East Beach up the hill towards Stonebarrow. This is part of the National Trust’s Golden Cap Estate, there’s plenty of open heathland and quiet lanes for dogs to explore - though do look out for the occasional cow and horse. Dogs should always be on leads around livestock.

You can stick to the popular route near the cliffs, but Chutney likes us to follow the main Stonebarrow gravel road to the far car park, continue to Chardown Hill and walk down into the medieval hamlet of Stanton St Gabriel with its ruined 13th-century chapel.

Now the tough bit, the strenuous ascent of Golden Cap. Stop a while (to catch your breath) and take in your surroundings. You may see as far as Portland in the east and Dartmoor in the west. It’s all downhill afterwards, via some steps, to Seatown; there are regular signposts, so you won’t get lost.

The dog-friendly Anchor Inn in Seatown welcomes walkers, as does The George in nearby Chideock, where you can catch a bus back to Charmouth. If you’re feeling energetic, retrace your steps and end up in Charmouth’s Royal Oak for an end of walk meal. Dogs are allowed in the lower bar and there’s a good choice on the menu for vegetarians and vegans.

Distance: 4 miles one way/ 8 miles there and back


Great British Life: Chutney with one of his humans in Shute's Lane, a holloway. Chutney with one of his humans in Shute's Lane, a holloway. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Symondsbury to Shute’s Lane (and back) 

The highlight of this 1 ½ mile walk is standing in an atmospheric ancient sunken holloway of Shute’s Lane, full of twisted tree roots and ferns - the perfect setting for any eerie fairy tale. Inquisitive pooches will revel in clambering around this unusual landscape too.

Symondsbury Estate’s free car park is the convenient starting point of a fairly easy (but not pushchair-friendly) stroll. First, head to St John the Baptist Church, then turn right past some charming cottages up Shute’s Lane. Follow the path as it curves to the left and you’ll soon enter what looks like a subterranean world, a holloway that is about 10 metres below the surrounding landscape.

This is where Chutney loves to scramble up the sides, but you’ll most likely be checking out the magical tree-filled sunken lanes, full of exposed roots and etchings that have been scratched into the sandstone over the centuries by passing travellers. Take care as it can be slippery underfoot and the path becomes increasingly muddier as you reach the entrance of Hell Lane, another holloway.

You can continue down this deeply rutted path that is believed to have been formed by the passage of wagons transporting heavy stone and marble from nearby Quarry Hill. However, only do so if you’re wearing wellies and you don’t mind going home with a wet and dirty dog, Hell Lane is notorious for being waterlogged.

We prefer to simply follow our route back, taking in the view of Colmers Hill, an iconic local landmark with its clump of pine trees atop. If you’re feeling thirsty, grab a drink at the dog-friendly Ilchester Arms (you’ll need to book if you want Sunday lunch). Alternatively, Symondsbury Kitchen serves meals using Estate-grown ingredients, as well as delicious cake and its dog-friendly.

Distance: 1 ½ miles


Great British Life: Chutney on the beach at West Bay with East Cliff behind. Chutney on the beach at West Bay with East Cliff behind. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Circular walk: West Bay to Eype

Dogs can play on both beaches at West Bay between 1 October and 30 April, but if you visit outside these times, stretch its legs (and yours) on this moderate circular walk over West Cliff to Eype and back to the harbour via Bridport.

The South West Coast Path (SWCP) sign says it’s a mile from the promenade to the village of Eype, but due to recent excessive cliff movement there is a path closure and permissive alternative route in place, so this may be a little longer. Recent storms have caused large sections of the cliff to collapse, so while on the middle section of the cliff walk (before and after the short detour near Highlands End Holiday Park), it’s advised to keep your dog on a lead.

There will be opportunities for your four-legged friend to run around on this walk, the wildflower field after the first gate leaving West Bay is a favourite with Chutney; he also loves a paddle in the river at Eype. What’s more, the shingle beach here is open to dogs all year round.

After, perhaps, a toe (or paw) dip in the sea, head inland towards St Peter’s Church which sometimes doubles up as an art gallery. Make your way along the road then turn right into Broad Lane. Continue down Skilling Hill Road until you reach traffic lights beside Bridport’s famous Palmers Brewery. Take the footpath to your right which follows part of the River Brit, through fields (look out for alpacas) and a caravan park back to West Bay.

The Watch House Café, next to East Beach and its much-photographed cliffs, has decent pizzas and seafood on its menu. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome to join diners. Rise riverside restaurant and Windy Corner Café are also dog-friendly.

Distance: Just over 3 miles


Great British Life: Chutney enjoying the view over the harbour and beach from Langmore Gardens in Lyme Regis. Chutney enjoying the view over the harbour and beach from Langmore Gardens in Lyme Regis. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Around and about Lyme Regis

Famous for its Cobb, a harbour wall that featured as a location in the recent Wonka movie, Lyme Regis is a holiday hotspot for dogs. You’ll find lots of water bowls all around the town - much appreciated by Chutney and his visiting chums.

This leisurely two-hour walk starts at the Town Mill, a watermill dating back to 1340 that was rescued from dereliction by local volunteers. Take the narrow path on the right, passing the hydroelectric generator, then make your way along the Lynch, a walkway that divides the River Lim and the mill’s leat; dogs should be kept on leads as there is a steep drop to the left.

Continue up Mill Green (note a very faint Banksy painting of an origami crane on the wall), then follow the river upstream. It’s a peaceful saunter, much of it in wooded shade, and after crossing Colway Lane and seeing signs for Uplyme, dogs can be off lead. Just keep an eye out for grazing cattle when you enter what’s known as Bumpy Field. Remember to close gates.

Follow the footpath up to your left until you reach the Black Dog Tea Room. If you’re not tempted by a slice of cake, make your way back towards the coast along Lyme Road and Silver Street, then wander through Langmoor and Lister Gardens with its views over the harbour and town beach.

Head for the Cobb, pass the RNLI shop on your left and walk towards Monmouth Beach, dogs are allowed here all year. If your visit coincides with low tide, you’ll be amazed by the Ammonite Pavement here, a glorious graveyard of fossils. Chutney loves exploring the rocks here too.

Dog owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to good Lyme eateries. Our favourites include Poco Pizza and the Bell Cliff, both are dog friendly.

Distance: 2 ½ miles


Great British Life: Chutney by the Hardy Monument. Chutney by the Hardy Monument. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Circular walk: Hardy Monument to Abbotsbury 

Chutney always sleeps with his legs fully stretched out after being on this 8 ½ mile hike, a sure sign of a contented dog.

Our starting point is the Hardy Monument near Portesham. Dedicated to the other Thomas Hardy, Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769 – 1839) who served with Nelson. Built in 1844, thanks to public donation, this column can be seen for miles around. The car park is surrounded by the Dorset National Landscape, and dogs can run free beside the bracken and heather. Go down one of the well-trodden paths on your right, then at the bottom turn right through a field, which can get muddy, until you reach the main Portesham Hill road. Enroute you’ll pass a stile taking you to Hell Stone long barrow. If time allows, it’s worth a detour.

Back at the road, cross and follow the South Dorset Ridgeway, an ancient trackway of high land that was a special place for our ancestors to celebrate life and bury the dead. You’ll cover good ground here, and there are tremendous views of Chesil Beach along the route. Go as far as Abbotsbury Castle to see the triangle-shaped hillfort enclosure. Then turn, make your way back a little and take one of several paths downhill into Abbotsbury.

This pretty village has a few dog-friendly pitstops. We like Cherries Café at Abbey Farm (follow the signs to the Swannery), their Dorset apple cake comes highly recommended.

After a rest, head back to Market Street, turn right and at the Swan Inn cross the road and follow the old railway track to Portesham. Walk along the pavement and at the Kings Arms continue left and pass St Peter’s Church on your left until you see a bridleway sign on your right for the Hardy Monument, that’s your route back.

Distance: 8 ½ miles


Great British Life: Always follow the Countryside Code, dogs on leads around livestock. Always follow the Countryside Code, dogs on leads around livestock. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Responsible Dog Ownership

Your dog may love running around the countryside and on the beach, but owners must always keep their pets under control, in sight and on a lead if instructed to do so. The Countryside Code states it is good practice to use a lead if you’re close to livestock. Farmers are permitted to shoot dogs that are attacking their farm animals or appear to be worrying them. You could also be prosecuted and fined, or ordered to pay compensation if, for example, a pregnant ewe was to lose her lamb.

Walking on the coast? Check with the Dorset Council website ( to see if there are restrictions in place, not all beaches are dog friendly throughout the year. The RNLI, who in 2022 were called out to 164 dog rescues, also advise to keep your dog on a lead when close to a cliff edge - you never know when it may suddenly dart after a rabbit or seagull. And if your dog finds itself in deep water or stuck in mud, don’t risk your own safety. Move to a safe place and call your dog’s name. More often than not, you’ll be reunited.

Wherever you are, stick to marked paths if possible to protect crops and wildlife. And finally, please clean up after your dog and dispose of poo bags properly. No one wants to see them hanging from trees or shoved in hedgerows. There is no poo-fairy to clear things up!

Great British Life: Lorna Cowan with Chutney at Stonebarrow on the Golden Cap walk.Lorna Cowan with Chutney at Stonebarrow on the Golden Cap walk. (Image: Lorna Cowan)

Meet Lorna and Chutney

Lorna Cowan, a freelance writer and former editor of Which? Travel magazine has lived in Charmouth since 2014. She welcomed Chutney, an energetic Irish terrier, into her home eight years ago, and they’ve since spent many a day exploring the nearby coast and countryside.

Great British Life: Chutney enjoying a snooze after his walkies. Chutney enjoying a snooze after his walkies. (Image: Lorna Cowan)