With its rolling hills, winding valleys, and countless ‘chocolate-box’ limestone villages, the picturesque Cotswolds is one of the UK’s most popular places to visit.
Spreading across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, North Somerset, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire, the Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the second largest protected landscape in England. Known as an area that promotes country pursuits and animals, it is no surprise to find the Cotswolds opens its arms to dogs.
Dog-friendly days out and local attractions in the Cotswolds
- Cotswold Birdland Park and Gardens, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire — from penguins and flamingos to owls and parrots, the park is home to more than 500 birds. Owners can discover the different birds and walk a trail through Marshmouth Nature Reserve, taking in views of the River Windrush. The park is open all year round; dogs on leads are welcome, although they cannot visit the discovery and encounter zones, or the cafe. There are plenty of picnic areas where you can eat with your dog, including a covered shelter area for wet weather. For more information call 01451 820480 or visit www.birdland.co.uk.
- Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, Gloucestershire — step back to the brief Rococo period between 1720 and 1760, when gardens were more flamboyant and often used to host extravagant parties. The garden is open between January and October. Dogs on leads are welcome in the garden and the cafe. For more information visit www.rococogarden.org.uk or call 01452 813204.
- Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire — a Victorian landscape with a collection of trees that is internationally renowned, and miles of footpaths. Westonbirt is great for a family day out, including the dog. Although canine visitors are not allowed in the Old Arboretum, they are welcome on the Downs and in Silk Wood. Silk Wood is the designated dog-friendly area, and dogs are allowed off the lead to stretch their legs. There are a series of dog-friendly guided walks around Silk Wood throughout the year, with volunteer Dave Lucas and his dog Maisie. There is an admission charge to enter the arboretum. For more information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-5Y4F5K
- Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire — from the intricate craftsmanship of the stained glass windows to the fine Romanesque tower, the stunning architecture and intriguing history make the abbey a must-visit attraction. The abbey welcomes four-legged companions and well-behaved owners. For more information visit www.tewkesburyabbey. org.uk or call 01684 850959.
- Broadway Tower Country Park, Broadway, Worcestershire — situated on the Cotswold Way with views over the area, the park is a great place to walk your dog. Once you’ve finished your stroll, your dog is welcome to join you in the cafe where you can both enjoy a treat. The park is home to Broadway Tower — the highest castle in the Cotswolds — although dogs are not permitted inside. For more information visit www.broadwaytower.co.uk or call 01386 852390.
The Cotswold Show and Food Festival is an action-packed event full of country pursuits, animals, live music, demonstrations, dog display teams, have-a-go events, and tasty food. The show takes place each year; the next show is on July 2 and 3, 2016, at Cirencester Park. Dogs are welcome at the event at no extra cost. Entertainment for pet dogs includes fun dog shows, a have-a-go agility training session and course, and have-a-go ‘hurries’ for any breeds of dog, not just gundogs. For more information visit www.cotswoldshow.co.uk
Take your dog swimming
If your dog loves to swim you don’t have to head to the coast. The Cotswold Country Park and Beach in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, has its own doggy swimming area. Dogs are not allowed on any of the other beach areas. The park has two lakes and offers a variety of water sports and fishing. Pets are allowed off the lead in the park except when passing through Waterland. For more information visit www.cotswoldcountrypark.co.uk or call 01285 868096.
Dog-friendly places to eat in the Cotswolds
- The Potting Shed pub, Crudwell, Wiltshire — the pub serves a menu combining traditional and creative dishes, which changes monthly to use seasonal produce. The pub has two acres of gardens and a vegetable patch where it grows many of its own ingredients. Dogs are welcome throughout the pub, where you’ll fi nd water bowls and a jar of dog biscuits behind the bar. For more information visit www.thepottingshedpub.com or call 01666 577833.
- The Crown Inn, Cerney Wick, Gloucestershire — for hearty, traditional pub food head to The Crown Inn where ‘dogs and their well-behaved owners are welcome’. There are water bowls for dogs, biscuits behind the bar, and a large garden and paddock at the back of the pub. Dogs cannot go into the restaurant but owners can enjoy the full menu in the bar. For more information visit www.thecrowncerneywick.co.uk or call 01793 750369.
Cooper's Hill walk guide
There are miles of well-trodden footpaths through the scenic Cotswold countryside. If you’re looking for a walk that takes in some of the best sites, including one of the most famous landmarks in the Cotswolds, try a circular route from the village of Cranham, Gloucestershire.
The walk takes in part of the Cotswold Way National Trail and leads to the iconic Cooper’s Hill, where the local tradition of cheese rolling takes place. The walk is a recommended shorter walk on the Cotswold Way website, called Cranham, Cooper’s, and the Beechwoods.
- Begin in the car park in Cranham. Enter the woodlands and follow the middle of three clear pathways. Continue for half a mile until you reach another car park next to a road. Cross the road and continue to follow the path.
- When you reach the top of the hill, veer right and join the Cotswold Way. Stay on the National Trail, passing through a kissing gate, and make your way through the woods until you emerge into the open.
- You’ve reached the top of Cooper’s Hill, where generations of people have taken part in the custom of cheese rolling. Fearless competitors would hurtle down the hill in pursuit of speeding cheese. Following concerns about health and safety, the last official event was in 2009 but it still often takes place unofficially, and thousands of visitors flock to watch. Descend the hill following the Cotswold Way to your left.
- Stay on the Cotswold Way through the woods before turning right on to a road and joining a track. Follow the track through the woods until you reach a marker post and field gate to your left. Leave the Cotswold Way and take the path to your right. You’ll emerge on to a drive. Head down the drive towards the road. Turn left and walk down the road before turning right at the next footpath sign.
- Upon reaching a car park under the trees, take the track on the far side, heading downhill past a house. Continue on the track to a footpath before eventually crossing a stream. Continue through the woods before entering open land. Follow the track to the main road.
- Walk along the main road through Cranham and return to the car park.