5 great coastal dog walks near the Lake District
- Credit: Emily Rothery
Some of the finest seaside strolls for you and your four-legged friends around Lakeland.
Walney Island can be reached by crossing the Jubilee Bridge from Barrow in Furness. The 11-mile-long island and has salt marshes, dunes and plenty of sandy beaches for bracing walks with your canine companion.
Walks take in views of the Lake District fells to the north and the sweep of Morecambe Bay in the south. The island is also home to two Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves where you will find a colony of grey seals, natterjack toads and a variety of migratory birds so restrictions may apply for dogs at certain times.
Dogs are welcome on Walney but it is advisable to put canine companions on leads at the northern and or southern tips where the beach leads to the reserves. The Round House Hub, which is a popular all-inclusive, not for profit, community café welcomes dogs and has wheelchair access. The new, educational Orsted Walney Visitor centre has recently opened at the Hub where the public can learn about green energy.
Less explored than the central fells, the western coastal strip has much to offer. Silecroft, on the edge of the Lake District National Park, is set against the stunning backdrop of Black Combe and on a clear day it is possible to see the Isle of Man.
There is a pebble beach with sand at low tide which extends as far as the eye can see in both directions. There is plenty of space for your dog to let off steam or enjoy doggy paddling in the sea where water quality has a three star rating. There is a free car park, toilets, and a chance to enjoy refreshments at the beach café making it a great place for a family day out with well-behaved four-legged friends.
The quaint coastal village of Ravenglass, the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park and once an ancient Roman port, has mud, sand and shingle to explore and is a good starting point for a variety of walks.
A delightful circular walk will take you on a scenic section of the coastal path - not always accessible at very high tides - and then along a marked track to Muncaster Castle grounds where the public footpath passes through the castle gardens. Walkers should not stray from the path unless a reduced-price walkers’ ticket is purchased which will allow you an hour to enjoy the dog-friendly grounds where paths lead through a blend of cultivated areas, lawns and woodland. The walk is worth doing at all times of year, but the gardens are especially renowned for their beauty in spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom. The path then leads you back to Ravenglass through elevated fields and along tracks which pass the Walls Castle, the remains of the bathhouse of the Roman fort of Glannaventa.
For a longer walk, a visit to Muncaster mill can be included. An alternative is to take a trip on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam railway, locally known as the L’aal Ratty, where your dog is welcome to ride with you. The narrow-gauge railway, which was built in 1876 to transport iron ore, will take you on a scenic journey to Boot where there are many more walks to explore. There is a variety of dog-friendly pubs and cafes for a well earned post-walk rest.
St Bees, which has been awarded the ENCAMS Seaside award for its cleanliness, is set below the dramatic headland of St Bees Head. Here you will find a large promenade and sandy beach where dogs are allowed all year round. The sand is exposed at most states of tide except for a couple of hours either side of high tide so it’s a great place for dogs to romp.
Alternatively, dog walkers can take the opportunity to wander along the headland to enjoy the sea breezes and wildlife. This section of coast is the only Heritage Coast between Wales and Scotland and is home to an RSPB seabird reserve. Colonies of seabirds nest here in the stretch of sandstone cliffs and puffins may be spotted so dogs must be kept under control. To round off the walk, you can visit one of the dog-friendly pubs or Hartley’s café which has a wonderful view out to the sea and where your dog can happily sit next to you outside on a lead while you enjoy refreshments.
The charming village of Arnside is set on the river Kent estuary which is an area that has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The best way to the beach is to stroll along the Victorian promenade which leads to a coastal path which is popular with dog walkers – a good place for a short wander or a longer hike that takes in Arnside Knott, a wooded limestone hill, which has spectacular views of the Arnside viaduct, Morecambe Bay and the Lake District although it is advisable to check the tide times and stay on the paths as this picturesque estuary is famous for its quick sands. The circular walk includes coastal footpaths, fields and woodland tracks with plenty of opportunity for your dog to sniff and scamper. The Knott, with an elevation of 159 metres, is famous for butterflies and in the spring and summer months has an array of rare wildflowers.
The path takes you past the Bob-In café where there is plenty of outside space for you and your dog to linger and enjoy the views of Morecambe Bay and Arnside. There's a variety of pubs and cafes in the area that welcome dogs. With views over the estuary, Arnside is a great place, if conditions are right, to take in stunning sunsets - a perfect way to round off your day. You may also catch the coastal bore, marked by a warning siren, where the incoming tide meets the water of the estuary causing a tidal wave.