Walkies! Out enjoying North Devon with your dog

If you love walking your dog, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you go on holiday together to North Devon. We’re blessed with some of the finest countryside in Britain, from our rugged coastline, to wide, sweeping landscapes just waiting to be explored.

Base yourself at dog-friendly North Devon holiday accommodation, and you’ll find extraordinary walks within easy reach by car. And if you prefer something closer to home, we have some wonderful walks on the doorstep, including our own 23-acre private wood.
But here are five cool walks to give you some food for thought as you prepare for a holiday that you, your family and your dog will love.

Walking with your dog in Devon

1 The Tarka Trail

This entirely traffic-free section of the Devon coast-to-coast cycle and walking route runs for 32 miles. It’s known as the Tarka Cycle Trail as it follows the route taken by Tarka the otter in the famous book by Henry Williamson, first published in 1927.

The first two sections hug the River Taw estuary before heading through wooded, river valleys. The path is surfaced throughout, and the dog will love it. Just watch out for cyclists!

Popular with tourists, the Tarka Trail is part of the National Cycle Network route number 27. The whole Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route is 99 miles long, running from Ilfracombe down to Plymouth, and uses mostly the route of former railway lines.

The trail can be broken down into sections, all of which are accessible by car, so you can do a little research and see which route you’d like to try:

  • Braunton to Barnstaple, 6 miles
  • Barnstaple to Bideford, 9 miles
  • Bideford to Great Torrington, 6 miles
  • Great Torrington to Meeth, 11 miles

2 South West Coast Path

There are few walking routes as dramatic as the South West Coast Path. It’s the longest national trail in England, running for 630 miles around parts of Somerset, then Devon and Cornwall, taking in some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. The North Cornwall coast is within six miles of Holsworthy, and you’ll be able to drive out and pick up the route at any number of locations found on the map.

The North Devon sections are rugged and inspiring and make for perfect long walks with the dog. However, there are some things to consider. A lot of the route is on cliffs, and there have been sad occasions of dogs running over the edge while chasing rabbits. So, it’s as well to keep your animal on a lead unless you have a good power of recall. There is also a lot of grazing livestock in the area, another reason to keep your pet under control.

Without sounding too grim about the whole experience, in areas of mining heritage there may be some uncapped mineshafts remaining hidden in the undergrowth. Keep your dog under control, and with water available on warm days, and you’ll have a walk to remember.
Devon Cycling and Walking Routes

3 The Bude Canal

The North Devon coast is not the most obvious place to find a canal. This one was operational in the 19th century, ferrying lime-bearing sand from the coast inland for use in agricultural fertiliser. While that use is long gone, what remains is a perfect wildlife haven that makes for a beautiful walk. Around six miles of the original 35-mile waterway from Bude is still navigable, and this makes for a perfect walk with the dog.

Enjoy the wildlife and watch the small boats and kayaks enjoying life on the water – it makes for an idyllic couple of hours of exercise, all within easy reach of nearby Dunsdon Farm, where you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly holiday accommodation.

The Bude Canal walk is perfect all year round. The weather is at its finest in the summer, of course, but in the spring the place really does seem to come alive, with baby ducklings and cygnets swimming about after their mothers.

You might decide to tie in a walk along the tow path with a trip to Bude itself. This gorgeous coastal town has plenty of places to stop off for refreshment, and your dog will probably be pleased to have a rest. The town became a popular destination for tourists in Victorian Britain keen to experience the new-fangled activity of sea-bathing. The railway was extended to the resort to bring in visitors.
The Bude Canal

4 Woolacombe beach

The South West is famous for its wide, expansive beaches, many of which are perfect for dog walking. One of the best examples is Woolacombe beach, voted the fourth best beach in Europe by TripAdvisor visitors. The golden sands go on for miles, literally! You need to be aware that there are restrictions on dogs for the high season. Part of the beach is closed to dogs altogether, an adjacent area is for dogs on a lead only, but the furthest area of the beach is open all year round for your pet to run around and enjoy itself. Each section is well signposted, and the reviews suggest holidaymakers on the beach and dog owners get along just fine if the rules are adhered to.

Woolacombe is just one of many fine beaches within striking distance of your perfect holiday accommodation in North Devon. Others include Saunton, Putsborough, Croyde and Westward Ho!

Woolacombe beach

5 Northam Burrows

This country park, north of Westward Ho! is home to a diverse range of habitats, from salt marsh and open grassland to a rocky shoreline and sand dunes. There’s all manner of wildlife here, and it’s recommended to start and end your walk in Appledore, walking through Northam, around the burrows between the dunes and the sea, then following the coast route back to where you started.
If you like your grizzly history, this is where a Vikings hoard was supposedly slaughtered. It’s a bit more peaceful now!