Top 10 UK beach walks for you and your dog
A long walk can be the highlight of a dog’s day - and lift yours too. They bound around excitedly as you put on your wellies, trot happily alongside you on the lead, then run eagerly on open land while getting to know fellow four-legged friends.
When your backdrop is a beach, you’re looking at an idyllic trip out! Beautiful scenery, fresh sea air, a contented canine and exercise – the positive effects are endless.
Whether you fancy a staycation with the family, a romantic break away or treating your pup to one-on-one time, it’s a lovely time of year to make the most of the UK’s stunning coastal landscapes. Marvel at the pink sands of Scotland or follow Harry Potter’s footsteps in Wales – there truly is something for everyone.
BABBACOMBE BEACH – DEVON
East of Torquay on the English Riviera, South Devon’s breathtaking bay, you’ll find Babbacombe. Beneath the cliffs lies a beautiful arc of shingle beach. It’s an unspoilt coastline that offers a tranquil escape with views over clear, calm waters. On a clear day you can see across to Portland Bill in Dorset. Babbacombe Downs boasts the highest promenade in England. At 300ft above sea level, you may spot dolphins and seals playing offshore.
Then, explore the South East Coast Path, the longest coastal path in the UK. Take the path from Babbacombe Beach towards Torquay past Hope’s Nose for more stunning scenery. Dogs are welcome all year round. A little cafe is within walking distance too, so you can both unwind after walkies.
CLIMPING BEACH – SUSSEX
Climping Beach near Littlehampton in Sussex is a calm, but cool, spot for a stroll. A popular surfing destination, this Area of Scientific Interest is partly a nature reserve. Attention, Dr Who fans… it was also the filming location for two episodes in 1967 and 1975!
South Downs National Park is just 5 miles away, with more land for you and your pooch to stroll through. If you’d like to stay somewhere with real character, the picturesque towns of Chichester, Bognor Regis and Worthing are all within an 11-mile radius.
HOLKHAM BAY - NORFOLK, ENGLAND
Belonging to the Holkham Estate, this is one of Nolfolk’s most unaffected and beautiful beaches that was recently voted ‘Best Beach in the UK’ by travel writers. Behind the shoreline you’ll find a semi-circular basin which, at high tides, rapidly fills to form a stunning shallow lagoon. At low tide, the sea reveals pristine golden sands, often stretching to almost half a mile away, offering your pooch lots of space to paddle.
Holkham met Hollywood in 1998. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow walked across Holkham sand at low tide during the final scenes of ‘Shakespeare in Love’. The romantic references don’t stop there either; nearby Holkham National Nature Reserve, one of the largest in the country, is home to rare species of flora and fauna. Unusual seabirds populate the area, such as: Pink-footed geese, Eurasion wigeon and brent geese. The scarcely found scrubbly sea-blite and matted sea lavender plants, can also be seen along this path.
Venture a little further inward and you’ll find the gorgeous Holkham Hall, an 18th century country house. Dogs are welcome here but must be kept on a lead at all times in the park. During visitor season, well-behaved dogs on leads are allowed in the shop, walled garden ‘Field to Fork’ experience and the courtyard cafe.
CROSBY (HALL ROAD WEST) BEACH - MERSEYSIDE, ENGLAND
This wide sandy beach, backdropped by low dunes, is a popular hotspot for walkers, bird watchers and art lovers. If you’re a ‘culture vulture’, it’s worth a trip to see the ‘Another Place’ art installation by renowned artist Antony Gormley, who is best known for designing ‘Angel of the North’. This striking piece of art consists of 100 cast iron figures dotted along the shore, facing into the sea. Depending on the tides, some figures may be submerged so visiting at different times of day is recommended for you to feel the full effect.
Dogs are welcome, but swimming and paddling is not advised due to fast-moving tides. Visitors are also asked to keep within 50 meters of the promenade and should not attempt to walk out to the furthest cast iron figures due to patches of quicksand.
The estuary of the River Alt, to the north, is the site of a 4,000-year-old submerged forest, as well as home to many fascinating bird species. Look out for wading birds in the wet sands at low tide and stunning displays by migratory birds at dusk. If you’re a keen walker, traverse along the Coastal Path for excellent views of the Wirral and North Wales.
Naval buffs can find former homes of Liverpool’s former sea captains behind the central section of the beach and watch passing ships sailing out into the Irish Sea.
REDPOINT NORTH BEACH - GAIRLOCH, SCOTLAND
This secluded beach is a real spectacle for one reason - its startling red/pink sand. Backdropped by dunes, grassy slopes and rock pools, with a small stream running down the sand into the sea, Redpoint North Beach certainly has a dream-like quality for you and your dog to enjoy. Sit on the pink sands and enjoy the beautiful views over to the Isle of Skye. You may see gannets, sea otters and even porpoises gambolling in the crystal waters.
This beach lies 10-miles south-west from Gairloch and is perfect if you fancy escaping from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For this reason, there aren’t any facilitates for miles around, so bring everything you need for that day - but expect a memorable day in a one-of-a-kind destination. There are no restrictions where dogs are concerned, but visitors are politely asked to keep the sands pristine.
NEWTON BEACH - STRATHCLYDE, SCOTLAND
This award-winning sandy beach is dotted with picturesque postcard houses and a small port, to contrast the dramatic rolling hills beyond. A visit to Newton Beach feels like stepping back in time. If you have a family, crabbing is a classic coastal activity to enjoy. Newton Beach also boasts quirky little landmarks like a painted crocodile on a log. It really does offer a charming escape for you and your dog.
RHOSSILI BAY BEACH - SWANSEA, WALES
What higher acclaim could a beach need than being ‘the UK’s No. 1 dog-friendly’ beach? At Rhossili Bay Beach you’ll find 3-miles of golden sands and views across the Atlantic, and if you’re lucky you may spot seals and dolphins splashing in the surf. Look up and you’ll see opportunity for cliff-top walking for even greater views across the Welsh landscape.
Your pup will have plenty of space to bound along and paddle but keeping them on a lead on the way to the beach is advisable due to nearby grazing sheep. Dogs are welcome all year round, with refreshments, shops and toilets nearby for when you both fancy a break.
FRESHWATER WEST - PEMBROKESHIRE, WALES
This expansive sand and rocky beach is backed by dunes, with its own Freshwater Stream for a mid-walk drink if your pooch gets thirsty. At the southern end of the beach you’ll find a rocky reef, and on the opposite side, there are quieter bays for some calm time out with your pup. If you’re looking for an adventure, the walking route with a 9-mile hike to West Angle Bay is not for the faint-hearted.
If you’re with family or friends who can accompany your pup on the sand, canoeing, sea angling and surfing are all coastal activities to enjoy at Freshwater West. It’s certainly a haven for seasoned surfers, but approach with caution as strong rip currents occur off this beach.
Freshwater West has also starred in several famous films! Firstly, in Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood', then in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ where it was used as the backdrop for Dobby’s shell cottage. The house elf’s home was removed after filming, but you and your very own ‘Fang’ can still follow the footsteps of Harry, Hermione and Ron. The Hollywood links don’t stop there - in 2015 the beach was used as a double for Dunkirk in ‘The Finest’, starring Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin.
BALLYCASTLE - COUNTY ANTRIM, IRELAND
Ballycastle Beach boasts Irish charm that lures many tourists. Belonging to the traditional seaside town of Ballycastle, its stretch of sand runs from the marina to Pans Rocks just over a mile away. You’ll find this sandy spot along the Causeway Coast Route of Antrim, not far from the Giant’s Causeway. Dogs are permitted to walk the Causeway’s trial too, provided they stay on the lead.
The beach is framed to the east by sheer 600fit cliffs, while just 5km to the west the ruins of Kinbale Castle sit on a limestone headland projecting into the sea. On a clear day, Ballycastle offers beautiful views over to the Mull of Kintyre.
WOODSTOWN BEACH - WATERFORD, IRELAND
Woodstown Beach is nestled within the Waterford Estuary and surrounded by woodland, making it a sheltered haven for visitors. Woodstown’s sandy coastline stretches for miles, so is perfect for a leisurely stroll when the tide is out. It extends out around a kilometer at low tide, revealing untouched sand for your pooch to play on. When the tide is in, your pup may wish to paddle or swim in its tranquil waters.
Woodstown is famous for its seashells, so see if you can spot uninhabited oysters, mussels or cockles on your walk. Its dramatic tidal changes mean there’s a high chance you’ll find shells spotted all over the sand, which is always a fun activity for the family.
In addition to seeing stunning new sights and embarking on your own little adventure with your furry friend, our research shows that exercising with your pooch can improve your mood. Not to mention the physical health benefits you’ll both feel. The aerobic exercise, even just for 30 minutes a day, will help your dog maintain a healthy weight. Just watch out for potential hazards as you go; jellyfish have been known to wash up on British shores, and your pup may also stumble across litter, e-cigarettes and fishing hooks. They may also be attracted to the salty, slightly fishy scent of the sea, but the water can make them poorly, so always keep a close eye when they’re frolicking along the beach.
There’s never been a better time to explore new places and bond with your pup. Life’s a beach, so who better to enjoy it with than your furry friend?