Cornwall's best dog-friendly beaches...and places to eat on the way
- Credit: Greig Barclay
The North Coast
This part of Cornwall flourishes during the summer months, offering some of the most exhilarating spots to explore with your four-legged friend. A walker’s paradise, boasting sweeping bays and dramatic cliff walks, with uninterrupted sea views for miles.
Daymer Bay boasts enviable views across the Camel Estuary and Atlantic Ocean; perfectly positioned for exploring the South West Coastal Path with its wild, rugged landscape, peppered with sandy beaches and coves. The dramatic rock-face is fused with spectacular beaches, with its huge expanse of low-tidal sands, dramatic sculptural rocks and slated skimming stones, it offers the ideal walk for you and your four-legged friend, with plenty of soft sand to run and play.
Head east from Daymer, and you will find yourself wandering across Greenaway, a pebble beach with many inlets and rock pools at low tide – dogs love to swim in the clear, calm pools, before getting stuck into some tasty seaweed! From here, take the coastal path towards Polzeath, one of the most popular surfing meccas of Cornwall. At low tide continue walking around the headland to fashionable Rock, where you can walk the sandy stretches or hop on the foot-ferry across to Padstow.
Watergate Bay – Bedruthen Steps
I have loved walking at Watergate Bay for as long as I can remember, the exclusivity of the location, with 180-degrees of spectacular uninterrupted sea views, is perfect for dog walkers, as well as those who enjoy a range of water sports.
Watergate is a part of the north Cornish coast that Partridge – my cockerpoo - and I never tire of exploring. It is a walkers delight as well as a bucket-and-spade holiday retreat, but it’s the expansive sands with their low tides that really captivate. The sense of pure joy, running out into the sand, playing in the shallows, and exploring the caves.
The five-mile walk from Watergate Bay to Bedruthen Steps is a must, picking up the South West Coastal Path, heading to Mawgan Porth, take a break at the stylish glass-fronted Scarlet Hotel, and gaze across Mawgan Porth Beach with a tipple-of-choice – in warmer months, lounge on the terrace with something cold - before heading onto Bedruthen Steps, where you can discover the most incredible rock formations.
Padstow – Camel Estuary
I absolutely adore Padstow! It has to be my favourite Cornish town, with so many incredible foodie destinations, as well as bars, galleries, artist-studios and stunning walks. The ancient fishing port is home to beautiful sweeping sands, the Camel Estuary and the Cornish Coastal Path.
The town sits on the west bank of the River Camel – five miles north of Wadebridge and 10 miles north of Bodmin - providing miles of coastal walks for you and your canine pal to enjoy.
For exhilarating views across to Rock and Daymer Bay, trek up to the war memorial or cycle the six-mile trail along the Camel Estuary, with your four-legged friend, along for the ride in a trailer.
There are also plenty of circular walks from Padstow, either via Crugmeer, Trevone and Stepper Point (seven miles) or for a shorter option, via Hawker’s Cove (four miles). Another popular route that Partridge and I particularly enjoy - taking in some wonderful coastal scenery along the way - is Padstow to Polzeath, via Rock and St Enodoc Church (around three-and-a-half miles).
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For the days you don’t fancy venturing far, a 10-minute walk will take you to the beach where you and your hound can pick up the passenger ferry across to Rock, running at regular intervals throughout the day.
Porthkidney Sands, Lelant – St Ives
A more recent discovery, and dreamy walking spot to enjoy with your pooch is Porthkidney Beach, Lelant, with its expansive white sands and steep dunes with maze-like paths. It makes a great spot to play chase, welcoming dogs all-year-round.
From St Uny’s Church at Lelant, take the winding Coastal Path down through the dunes, with views across to St Ives and Hayle. If you’re feeling up for a good jaunt, pick up the Coastal Path and walk four miles into St Ives, where you can continue further along the six-mile stretch to Zennor or take in the scenes from Porthminster Beach across to St Ives Harbour. Stop at the Porthminster Café, the perfect space to take in the vistas over some locally-caught sea fare.
Just around the headland is Porthmeor Beach, where you will find Porthmeor Café, providing a welcoming spot to kick back with a beverage, whilst watching the surfers riding the waves – Porthmeor is home to the St Ives Surf School, if you fancy taking a lesson.
The South Coast
The serene south coast offers some of the most breath-taking views - with inimitable coastal hues and patterns of the landscape. It's Cornwall’s answer to the Caribbean, providing an abundance of dog-friendly beaches, sandy coves and sculptural rock faces. A plethora of sky-meets-sea, waiting for you and your canine pal to discover.
Mullion Cove – Poldu Café, Gunwalloe Beach and the Lizard
I love Mullion Cove throughout the seasons, but during the summer months the colours of the sea, set against the serpentine rock, are something else - so epically vivid, it really is a dreamy spot, not to mention, every dogs dream location.
Take the Coastal Path up from the historic harbour, and walk along the impressive cliff tops of the Lizard Peninsula, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Head west on the Coastal Path to Poldhu Beach Café in under an hour, a great stop-off for refreshments, with a further 30-minutes taking you to Gunwalloe Beach. At Gunwalloe, seek out the Halzephron Inn - awarded Cornwall’s most dog friendly pub 2019 - for generous plates of seasonal fare, stunning views, or a warming open fire, depending on the season.
A more strenuous two-hour trek south will take you to the Lizard – the most southerly point of the UK – and the picturesque Kynance Cove.
Talland Bay - Polperro
Talland Bay is one of those destinations that beckons your return. A small and serene bay, nestled midway between Looe and Polperro, it is in principle made up of two beaches – one sand and one shingle, with access to the South West Coastal Path. An all-year-round dog-friendly beach, Talland Bay provides an enviable position to explore the South Cornish coast.
Talland Bay beach is just one of a number of the South Coast’s welcoming coves where you can walk (or swim) with your dog throughout the year. Other great spots for salty sea dogs are Gorran Haven, Hannafore (West Looe), Porthcurnick and Lantic Bay.
Partridge and I love to walk the Coastal Path, 45 minutes to the charming fishing village of Polperro, taking in the cliff top views along the way, before stopping at the Three Pilchards for a bite to eat – the Sunday roast is sure to hit the spot after the steep trek. If you fancy taking in a little culture on your travels, dogs are welcome at the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing or for your seafaring hounds, why not get out on the water with Fowey River Hire.
So whether you choose to explore the North or South coast, the abundance of inspiring dog friendly walking spots won’t disappoint, just grab your four-legged friend, and let them lead you on a journey of endless coastal discovery.
Dog-friendly places to eat
Enjoy a true taste of Cornwall, with your hound at your heels, and sample some of the most innovative and sustainably sourced local produce the county has to offer. Pub gardens have mostly reopened with full openings expected in mid-May. Check current opening times, booking and any socially distancing rules with the venue.
Taste of the North
Prawn on The Lawn, Padstow – A fully licensed fishmonger and seafood restaurant, using sustainable, seasonal seafood, made for sharing. Created by Rick Toogood and his team, with a passion for punchy flavours and an underlying respect for the ocean.
The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay – A laidback beachside hangout that welcomes dogs with open arms. Tuck into simply cooked, tasty dishes, with a view of Watergate Bay’s two-mile stretch – the perfect spot for a sundowner, whilst watching the surf.
Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, Padstow - Experience a relaxed seaside dog-friendly restaurant, with an internationally renowned food offering. The harbourside eatery established a reputation for imaginative, locally caught seafood and shellfish, offering luxury dining, not only for guests, but for their dogs too, able to dine with their owners in the conservatory area and the roof-top terrace.
The Fish House, Fistral Beach – Paul Harvood’s restaurant is located a stone’s throw from the sea, welcoming dogs during the lunch service, so you can kick back after a long beach walk and enjoy locally caught fish and shellfish, straight from the Newquay Harbour.
Scott & Babs, Mawgan Porth – Tuck into tastiest wood fired food in a barn on a farm at Retorrick Mill, deep in the valley of Laherne. Rustic food is cooked using barrel smokers, spit roasters, BBQ’s and wood fired clay ovens. Dogs are welcome to join you in the feast!
Taste of the South
The Cove, Falmouth – Nestled on the shoreline of Maenporth Beach, the Cove, under the new ownership of Michael Caines, offers uninterrupted views across Falmouth Bay. Enjoy innovative dishes, using fresh seasonal produce, with your dog at your side in the glass terrace, or lunch alfresco on the elevated terrace.
Appleton’s, Fowey - Renowned chef Andy Appleton and his partner Lyndsay, deliver gastronomic feasts with the best seasonal ingredients; think rustic Italian dishes with a contemporary twist. Andy creates unique menus, bringing the best of Italy and Cornwall together on a plate at an exciting new dog-friendly venue in the heart of Fowey.
Indidog, Falmouth – Harbourside eatery INDIdog, headed up by Paul Ripley, offers a great spot for laidback dining over seasonal classics, including shell-on prawns, steamed mussels, seafood chowder, Cornish dressed crab and minute steak. The dog loving team will spoil your hound, able to dine with you up until 6pm.
Halzephron Inn, Gunwalloe - This inviting Inn recently received the title of ‘Most Dog Friendly Pub’, at the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2019, winning gold in hound-hospitality. Dine in the bar area, with your furry friend at your side or during warmer months, at one of the outdoor tables, with dramatic views across miles of countryside and coast - the perfect lunch-stop off for days exploring the Coastal Path.
The Gurnard’s Head – A former coaching inn, The Gurnard’s Head is a striking landmark, set amidst a dramatic backdrop of countryside and coast. Sink into comfortable surrounds and enjoy a fresh seasonal menu with your mutt at your side, in the midst of the exposed Penwith Moorland. Dogs are allowed throughout the bar area where you can tuck into simple plates with the short, fresh menu changing daily, showcasing vibrant dishes using local produce.
If you are looking for more, Natalie Millar-Partridge has launched a new site for all thoungs dog. 'Canine Cornwall has been curated with you and your canine pal at the forefront – a platform to showcase the very best of dog-friendly escapes within Cornwall, including unique retreats, boutique hotels and off-grid hideaways, with the hottest walking-spots and dog-friendly beaches, cafes, bars and eateries, situated within some of the most beautiful destinations across the county,' she says. 'We've also recently added a section for Dog-loving Devon.'
For further information, subscribe to their newsletter and for inspiration and latest news all things dog friendly, head over to Canine Cornwall's Dog Blog.