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Ten best dog-friendly beaches

Lorna Cowan / 08 June 2016 ( 26 July 2019 )

The UK is awash with great beaches that both dogs and their owner can enjoy, all year round. Here are some of our favourites.

Embleton beach, Northumberland
Embleton beach in Northumberland is overlooked by the stunning ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, which can be explored with your dog on a lead.

Hayle beach, Cornwall

Just six miles from the seaside town of St Ives, much-loved by artists and holidaymakers, you’ll find Hayle beach, a long stretch of glorious golden sand. Individual stretches of beach have their own restrictions. Hayle Towans has seasonal restrictions but Black Cliff, Porthkidney and Lambeth Walk are dog-friendly all year. 

The perfect place for pooches to play, the beach runs from Hayle to Godrevy and has breathtaking views back over St Ives Bay. It’s not the only beach in this part of north west Cornwall that’s dog-friendly all year round - you can also walk on nearby Mexico Towans and Upton Towans. However, put the lead on your dog if you venture into the sand dunes – adders live in the area and their bites can be fatal.

Find out what you need to know about taking your dog to the beach

Rockham beach, north Devon

Rockham beach is once again open to dogs and their walkers after being inaccessible for over two years. Severe storms on Valentine’s Day 2014 washed steps away, but they have now been replaced and allow visitors to descend to the sand and pebble beach below. 

Although lacking facilities and much smaller than the beach at the neighbouring surfers’ paradise of Woolacombe, Rockham is a great place to escape the crowds and explore some rock pools. Park in the village of Mortehoe, about a half hour’s walk away.

Find out about Saga Pet Insurance

Hive beach, Dorset

On the Jurassic Coast, near the picture-postcard village of Burton Bradstock, Hive beach is a great spot to spend a day with your four-legged friend. At lunch time, choose between the award-winning, dog-friendly Hive Beach Café and the village pub - The Three Horseshoes – which welcomes dogs, children and muddy boots! 

Some restrictions apply on the main beach between June and September when the beach gets busy, so head to Cogden beach, a ‘secret’ sand and shingle beach, just a few miles further west, that's dog-friendly all year round.

Camber Sands beach, East Sussex

Got an energetic dog? Then let it run along the seven miles of award-winning sand at Camber. It’s a special treat, as most of the other beaches along this stretch of coast are made up of pebbles and shingles. Camber Sands also has sand dunes, the only ones in East Sussex. 

Take note that the beach attracts kite- and windsurfers, so it may be a breezy walk. Dogs are banned from the main section of beach from May to September, but wander east and you’ll find plenty of space to throw a ball. When it’s hot, watch out for jelly fish.

Find out how to plan a dog-friendly holiday in the UK

Old Hunstanton beach, Norfolk

The impressive sandy beach at the tiny village of Old Hunstanton, known locally as Old Hunston, has no dog restrictions at any time of the year. And as the sand gently slopes into the sea, it’s ideal for doggy paddles. 

During the summer visitors arrive in their droves, but somehow the beach never feels crowded. Enjoy an evening stroll while watching the sun set over the shimmering sea – the beach faces west over The Wash. If you’re tempted to stay another day, sleep at The Lodge. Dogs are allowed in courtyard rooms.

Embleton beach, Northumberland

Dogs and their walkers are spoilt for choice for fantastic dog-friendly beaches on the Northumberland coast. The sandy section at Embledon Bay, north of Craster, is not only picturesque, it also offers plenty of wide open space so remember to pack a frisbee. 

In the distance to the south, the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle stand majestically on a cliff – dogs on leads are allowed. On your walk, look out for kittiwake colony on the cliffs below the castle. Arctic terns are often seen flying along the water's edge.

Marloes Sands beach, Pembrokeshire

There are around 50 beaches in Pembrokeshire, Wales, that welcome dogs. The sand at Marloes, on the south west tip, is one of the gems. With high cliffs providing a dramatic backdrop to a stunning sweep of sand, visit at low tide. 

At high tide the beach nearly disappears – and walkers can find themselves scrambling up the aforementioned cliffs after their exit route is cut off by the sea. If you do turn up at the wrong time of day, a moderate four-mile circular coastal walk lets you explore nearby heathland.

Find out our favourite dog walks in the UK

Saltcoats beach, Ayrshire

It’s not just golfers and yachtsmen who love the coast between Troon and Saltcoats on the south west coast of Scotland, dogs and their owners are besotted by it too. And no wonder. There’s lots of lovely sand for paws to dig, and the view across to the Isle of Arran is hard to beat. 

Saltcoats is dog-friendly all year and is known for its long stretch of sand and shallow water, making it a great place for your pooch to have a splash about.

Restrictions are in place at nearby Troon beach from May to September. You’ll find a car park at either end (the one closest to the town has toilets), as well as an esplanade with benches – handy if you tire before your dog does.

Huisinis beach, north Harris

Okay, so you’re not going to just visit Huisinis beach on a whim, but if you do happen to be in the Outer Hebrides, then it’s worth making the trek along the single-track road – passing through the front garden of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle – to reach one of the most remote dog-friendly beaches in the UK. 

With white sand and aquamarine water, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on an island in the Indian Ocean – until you dip your toes in the sea! Self-catering accommodation can be found in the crofters’ cottages on the nearby machair grassy plain.

Ballycastle beach, County Antrim

Ballycastle beach, in County Antrim (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), is just 12 miles from the Giant’s Causeway and home to a fine stretch of beach, made up mostly of sand with some shingle. It runs about a mile from the marina in Ballycastle to the idyllic Pans Rock in the east and overlooks the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. 

You can also look across to Rathlin Island, which boasts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony – puffins, peregrines and auks all love it there. Dogs under control and on a lead are welcome on the island.

Read our tips for travelling long distances in the car with your dog

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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