THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DOG-FRIENDLY CORNWALL
Cornwall loves dogs! And the feeling is mutual. Abby Driver heads out to find out what the UK’s favourite county has to offer its four-legged friends - with a little help from Monty.
We’re a nation of pet lovers, so it’s no surprise a third of pet owners take their four legged friends on holiday with them. And Cornwall is a fantastic choice for a break with Rover! Last summer 14 per cent of visitors had dogs with them, with figures expected to rise significantly over the winter months.
Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive at Visit Cornwall thinks the appeal is in our wide open beaches, hundreds of miles of coastal footpaths, thousands of acres of natural moorland, dog friendly attractions and plenty of accommodation where you’ll find your canine chum is more than welcome.’ So if you’re planning a Cornish break with your pooch pal, here’s how to make it one they’ll enjoy.
Let sleeping dogs lie
For some, staying in a hotel offers a full and proper break from real life. No cooking or cleaning - you don’t even have to make your bed in the morning! If you’re inclined to agree, Cornwall has a great range of dog friendly hotels up and down the county, from the elegant Fowey Hotel nestled into the south coast to the magnificent Mullion Cove Hotel perched atop a cliff.
I checked out Watergate Bay Hotel with my new pup, Monty, to see how it all works. With almost half of their bedrooms dog friendly, they’ve experienced more dogs come to stay year on year – three times as many in the last five years! MD Will Ashworth explains: We’ve always been a popular destination with dog owners. And with guests looking for a home away from home during a holiday in the UK, bringing the dog can be a must!’
Situated next to Watergate Bay, it’s a beach dog’s dream spot. At low tide the sea slinks back to reveal two miles of glorious golden sand and a dizzying array of rock pools and caves that Monty couldn’t get enough of. The hotel fuses laid back Cornish style with contemporary design touches and also offers two dog-friendly dining options – The Living Space and The Beach Hut – allowing you to take your time, instead of skipping pudding to go and check on your dog.
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If hotels aren’t your thing, Cornwall is certainly not short on self-catering accommodation. Staying in self-catering accommodation may be more like real life for your canine buddy, which could help them to relax into the holiday. Deborah Kingsley-Tubbs is a property manager at Classic Cottages and has noticed a trend towards pet holidays. Cottages have started accepting dogs and a lot of attractions provide facilities for visitors bringing dogs now,’ she says. There is a wider recognition that dog owners need to be catered for and that if a business provides facilities it will attract more customers.’
Just make sure you double check the doggy do’s and don’ts before you turn up. Deborah remembers one couple were very upset to find out their huge Neapolitan Mastiff couldn’t stay intheir holiday house unattended (although after agreeing to pay for any damages caused, they came to an agreement with the home’s owner).
Sadly, the dog passed away soon after the holiday - the home’s owners received a Thank You card from them. They were really grateful they had been able to bring their dog back to Cornwall for his last few days as they had managed to take him to his favourite beach for a stroll, where he had loved to play when he was younger,’ explains Deborah.
Surrounded by coast, the first port of call in Cornwall – once you’re settled into your new quarters - has to be the beach! With over 300 to choose from you’re spoilt for choice. Malcolm’s favourite is Tregantle Beach at Rame. At low water there are miles of beaches to run on. My dog, Tilly, loves it!’. The Visit Cornwall website lists which beaches are dog friendly year round and those that operate a seasonal dog ban, so check to avoid disappointment.
My top picks? Mawgan Porth near Newquay is perfect for letting your dog loose to have a good run around, Polridmouth Beach in Menabilly is rock pool heaven (Monty loved bathing in these) and if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, head to the secluded Lantic Bay near Polperro.
For a longer walk, pick a section of the SouthWest Coast Path to tackle. Dogs are welcome along the entire length of the path, allowing them and their owners to soak up over 250 miles of glorious scenery. Perhaps split that up over a few holidays, though.
Head inland to rugged Bodmin Moor and explore 80 square miles of granite moorland that dates from the Carboniferous period. Just do your best to avoid the enigmatic beast of Bodmin Moor! For more varied scenery try the Camel Trail; 18 flat miles of (almost) traffic free trail which will take you through the wonderfully wooded Camel Valley and right alongside the stunning Camel Estuary.
If your dog thinks woods are where it’s at, you’re in luck as there are plenty choose from. Cardinham Woods has easy-to-follow bike and walking trails (not to mention a delicious café), Anne’s Wood is just on the edge of Lelant and stands on the site of a 19th century clay work and Kennall Vale Nature Reserve near Ponsanooth featured a beautiful stream that tumbles through old water wheels and leats. Monty’s favourite spot? The specially signed Dog Bathing Area at Respryn (particularly if it’s muddy).
Heartlands is a free dog-friendly attraction near Redruth in the former mining heart of Cornwall. Visit and discover the beautiful botanical gardens, arts and crafts studio, exhibitions and even climb-on sculptures.
Visit Cornwall’s first and only distillery for 300 years - Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm. Tour the brand new production facility (complete with a two-storey high cyder vat), hop on a tractor ride around the orchards or simply kick back and sample a few cyders. Just make sure Buddy doesn’t join in on the latter!
Nestled in a huge crater is the attraction synonymous with Cornwall: The Eden Project. In 2013 the attraction decided to go dog friendly. Whilst the biomes and indoor areas remain out of bounds, the outdoor gardens are set over 20 acres and feature 3,000 varieties of plants, so there is plenty to see.
Speaking of gardens, there are plenty of dog friendly options in Cornwall. Featuring a sub-tropical jungle and an ancient woodland, dogs will have a lot to wag their tail about at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. For dogs with refined tastes, the garden at Lanhydrock House is handsomely formal; the rhododendrons and Himalayan magnolias are particularly spectacular. And Trebah Garden in Falmouth even has its own private beach, complete with poop scoops!
Kids in tow too? Head over to Holywell Bay Fun Park. When you’ve had enough go karts, blaster boats and mazes for one day, head to the nearby Holywell Bay Beach and let your dog explore the dunes.
A Work of Art
Is your dog a secret culture vulture? Then you should take him to an art gallery! Just make sure you keep them on a lead.
Newlyn Art Gallery has brought some of the best in contemporary art to Cornwall over the last 120 years. During that time it’s exhibited work from Mona Hatoum, Lawrence Weiner and John Armleder, to name a few. In 2007 they opened a second venue The Exchange. Originally a telephone exchange, this industrial building offers a huge contemporary art space which frequently hosts workshops, screenings and live performances. Whilst dogs on leads are allowed in both galleries, they may be restricted from certain exhibitions.
The Jackson Foundation Gallery in St Just is a recent addition to the Cornwall arts scene; a gallery space created by contemporary British artist Kurt Jackson and his wife Caroline. The gallery features Kurt’s work which focuses on his engagement with his Cornish surroundings. Upstairs is a charity space which showcases his collaborations with causes such as Greenpeace and The Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
A hop skip and a jump from St Michaels Mount is the Summerhouse Gallery – a beautiful gallery displaying some of the best of the counties artwork. As well as perusing paintings check out the jewellery, glass and sculptures on offer.
In the Past
Delve into the counties rich and varied history and bring your pup along for the ride. From May onwards visit the award-winning King Edward Mine Museum near Camborne. You’ll learn all about the tin and copper mining industry in Cornwall and watch demonstrations of working machinery.
Find out how Pendennis Castle has defended Cornwall against invasion since the Tudor times, through the sights and sounds of battle. You’llalso enjoy glorious views of Falmouth and the Fal Estuary and its huge grounds make it a great spot for holidaying dogs.
The UK’s only china clay museum, Wheal Martyn Museum, will help you understand the counties china clay heritage. Set within a 26-acre country park with woodland walks and nature trails it’s doggy paradise. With a history stretching as far back as the Romans, Tintagel Castle offers dramatic views of the rugged north coast, captivating ruins and fascinating legends aplenty. The nearby beach is sure to appease your dog if he’s not such a history buff.
A Dog’s Dinner
If you’re having a wander on Bodmin Moor, you have to stop for some lunch at Jamaica Inn. Steeped in history, Jamaica Inn offers up delicious pub grub from traditional steak pies to Cornish pasties. Monty’s top tip? Snag a table by the roaring fire and take a well-earned snooze. Afterwards, peruse one of the finest collections of smuggling artefacts in the country in the adjoining Smugglers Museum.
Head to The Watering Hole in Perranporth – the UK’s only bar on the beach. Revel in the laidback beachy vibe and enjoy a decadent burger or a warming hot chocolate. Enjoy it all with a stunning view of the Atlantic swell. On the banks of the Fal Estuary you’ll find Café Mylor serving up fresh coffee, smoothies, cakes and other such tasty delights. Dogs are looked after with a biscuit and water bowls and if you go midweek you could join in with Dog Walking Wednesday’.