Five unusual dog-friendly days out in Devon

If you’re thinking of bringing your dog on holiday with you to Devon, you won’t be short of exciting things to do. Yes, there are breathtaking wide-open beaches in North Devon, and then there’s the South West Coast Path, but there’s so much more to see and do than just go for long walks. And best of all, you can do them all in the company of your four-legged friend.

If you’re based at luxury dog-friendly holiday accommodation in North Devon, then you won’t have to travel too far by car to enjoy some entertaining days out. Here are five of our recommendations of things to do that really are out of the ordinary.

1 Clovelly village

Known the world over, Clovelly is a fishing village on the North Devon coast like no other. At the bottom of the cliffs overlooking Bideford Bay, the village has steep cobbled streets through which no motorised traffic is allowed pass. That’s right… no traffic at all!
Until recently, the only form of transport was donkey-pulled sledges. Now the donkeys are retired, aside from providing the occasional ride for a tourist and posing for photographs. These days, MEN pull goods around on sledges! The village has been owned by the Rous family since Elizabethan times, allowing it to keep its quirky charm and remain largely unchanged for 400 years.

It’s certainly entertaining to wander around with the dog, and you’ll find plenty of places to stop off for a drink or a bite to eat. Fresh fish is obviously in abundance! It’s like stepping back in time.

Clovelly Village Devon

2 The Gnome Reserve

Okay, this one may be a little too off-the-wall for some, but if you like garden gnomes, or are just interested in their history, then this is the place for you.

The Gnome Reserve and Wild Flower Garden is set in four magical acres at West Putford, near Holsworthy. Most of the gnomes are kept along a wonderous trail through the beechwood, which has a stream running right through it. Opened in 1979 and marketed as a pastoral refuge for garden gnomes, the site is also home to a wild flower trail boasting 250 varieties of wild flowers, grasses and herbs.

The reserve is open from March until the end of October, from 10am to 5pm. Your dog will probably not be very interested in gnomes but will enjoy wandering around anyway. If you have children with you on holiday, this comes highly recommended.

3 Victorian Cliff Railway, Lynmouth to Lynton

The Lynton and Lynmouth funicular cliff railway is the highest and steepest water-powered railway in the world. Opened in 1890, it links the two twin towns, the railway is Grade II listed and the UK’s only water powered railway.

You might need a head for heights, but it’s the highlight of any visit, and you’re welcome to take your dog on board, so long as it remains inside the carriage. Waiting at the top, 500 feet above Lynmouth, is the famous Cliff Top Café, affording cream teas with the best view in the whole of the West Country. The railway is a great way to see both Lynton and Lynmouth.

You’ll need to pay a small charge for your dog to travel (lap dogs are free) and you must keep them on a lead. They even have water bowls and complimentary doggie biscuits!

It’s often busy, so you’re advised to beat the queues by riding the train down from Lynton, rather than up from Lynmouth.

Clovelly Village Devon

4 Tapely Park

Just to the north-east of Bideford, off the A39, Tapely Park is home to the Christie family. It sits on a hill in the parish of Westleigh and overlooks the River Torridge and the beautiful North Devon coastline.

You can tour the stunning gardens and grounds with your dog on a lead, bringing your own picnic or enjoying refreshments from the café, which prepares food grown on the estate without the use of chemicals.


Current family custodian Hector Christie is very hot on sustainability and will support projects in this field. You can have a look at the straw bale house.

Tapely is open to the public six days a week, Sunday to Friday, from 10am to 5pm, and from March to October.

Entry is £6 for adults and £4 for children. Dogs go free!

5 Dartmoor National Park

Although a little further away from your luxury dog-friendly North Devon holiday accommodation, no recommendations for days out would be complete without mentioning Dartmoor National Park, the vast moorland where wild Dartmoor ponies roam free. With forests, rivers, wetlands and rock, this 368-square mile of rugged countryside is breathtaking.

There are a few villages dotted around, including Princetown, the home to Dartmoor Prison, which was first used way back during the Napoleonic Wars. Dartmoor was designated as a National Park in 1951.

Dartmoor National Park

Owing to its exposed and unforgiving landscape, most visitors arrive in the spring and summer months. But so long as you keep to well-known paths and have a map or means of communication with you, there’s no reason you can’t explore at any time with your dog.
If you’re up for more than walking, there are plenty of attractions dotted around Dartmoor, including Dartmoor Zoological Park, a family-owned zoo in 33 acres of private parkland. It houses some endangered species. Castle Drago, Buckfast Abbey and the National Trust woodland trail through Lydford Gorge also come highly recommended.

You and your dog deserve some refreshment

Don’t forget that after a busy day discovering some of the delights that Devon has to offer, you might like to get some refreshment before heading back to your luxury holiday accommodation at Dunsdon Farm. There are many dog-friendly pubs in the Holsworthy and Bude area, and we have even featured some of them for you in another article.

Unusual days out with your dog in Devon