Cumbria is one of the most popular holiday destinations for dog owners, and it’s easy to see why. Home to the Lake District National Park, the north Pennines, and part of the Yorkshire Dales, this rural county has much to offer canine visitors.
Cumbria is the most north-western county in England, and borders Scotland. If you’re planning to visit Cumbria and the Lakes this year, make sure you check out this doggy guide to the area first.
Dog-friendly days out and attractions in Cumbria
- Keswick, Lake District — no visit to Cumbria is complete without stopping off in Keswick, which is situated in the northern lakes on the shores of Derwentwater. The town is incredibly dog friendly, with dogs welcomed in many pubs, shops, attractions, and on public transport. In fact, you will probably spot more dogs than people milling about the high street. Dog-friendly highlights include boat trips on Derwentwater operated by Keswick Launch, Crow Park and Hope Park (the latter has a pretty woodland walk and ornamental gardens), the Dog & Gun pub, department store George Fisher, and Podgy Paws pet shop, which has a pet-friendly information centre. There are also miles of open spaces where dogs can really enjoy the outdoors.
- Lakeland Motor Museum, Ulverston — this busy museum has a collection of 30,000 exhibits including classic cars and motorbikes — and you don’t have to leave your dog behind while you visit. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome in all areas inside the museum except the cafe. The cafe has an outside seating area where dogs are allowed. The museum is open every day except Christmas Day. For further information visit www.lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk or call 01539 530400.
- Bowness on Solway — venture to a quieter corner of Cumbria; from Bowness you can pick up the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, walking along the shores of Bowness Marsh towards nearby Port Carlisle, where you can see the Scottish mountains on a clear day. Bowness on Solway has lots of Roman history including a Romanesque archway which marks the finish/start of the Hadrian’s Wall Path and the remains of the second largest fort on the wall. The Solway Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
- Brantwood, Coniston — the former home of Victorian art critic John Ruskin which is now a museum. Although dogs are not allowed inside the house, they are welcome in the gardens and cafe on a lead. The mountainside gardens are set in a 250-acre wooded estate, offering fantastic views over Coniston Water. Bowls of water are provided on the restaurant terrace and inside the shop. For further information visit www.brantwood.org.uk or call 01539 441396.
- Grizedale Forest Park — set in the heart of the Lake District, the park has miles of paths for dogs and owners to explore. Owners are asked to follow the park’s dog code which includes keeping pets on leads around the visitor centre and picking up their poo. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk
- Carlisle Castle — explore 900 years of history at this impressive and formidable castle. It has withstood many sieges and contained a valuable royal prisoner — Mary, Queen of Scots. Follow the history trail with your dog in tow; dogs on leads are welcome inside the castle but cannot go into the exhibition or military museum. For further information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk
- Windermere Lake Cruises — start your journey on England’s largest natural lake from Ambleside, Bowness, Brockhole, or Lakeside Pier. Dogs are allowed on any of the boats free of charge and they even get their own tickets. Boats sail every day except Christmas Day and trips last between 45 minutes and three hours. For further information visit www. windermere-lakecruises.co.uk or call 01539 443360.
Other dog-friendly attractions in Cumbria
- The Pencil Museum, Keswick.
- Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith (not in the house).
- Muncaster Castle gardens, Ravenglass.
- Steam Yacht Gondola, Coniston.
Canine capital of the UK
Keswick and the Lake District are officially the most dog-friendly places in the UK. For the last three years, Keswick has been crowned the top town in the UK for dogs in the Kennel Club’s Be Dog Friendly Awards. The Lake District won the Great Outdoors category in the awards in 2015. The annual Be Dog Friendly Awards aim to recognise and reward places and businesses that go out of their way to welcome dogs.
Hadrian's Wall Path
Hadrian’s Wall Path is 84 miles long and stretches from Wallsend in Tyne and Wear to Bowness on Solway, in Cumbria.
Along the trail, walkers will stumble upon some of the UK’s most breathtaking views, encompassing rolling hills, moorland, and vibrant city landscapes. Dogs are welcome to walk the route, but owners should be aware of livestock along the central parts of the trail. For further information visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk
Dog-friendly places to eat in Cumbria
- The Pheasant, Bassenthwaite — situated between the towns of Keswick and Cockermouth, this authentic coaching inn is very dog friendly; don’t be surprised to see almost as many dogs as people inside the pub’s bar and lounges. The menu serves high-quality food and the inn has a welcoming atmosphere. It also doubles up as a dog-friendly hotel; well-behaved dogs are welcome to stay in some of the bedrooms, for a cost of £10 per night. For further information visit www.thepheasant.co.uk or call 01768 776234.
- The Bridge Hotel, Buttermere — dogs receive a warm welcome at The Bridge, where they are allowed in the Walkers’ Bar which serves meals throughout the day. You will find a box of dog treats behind the bar. The hotel also has six self-catering apartments where dogs can stay. For further information visit www.bridge-hotel.com or call 01768 770252.
Dog-friendly places to stay in Cumbria
- Low Nest Farm, Castlerigg — a family-run business located two miles from Keswick, which offers dog-friendly rooms on a bed and breakfast basis. The B&B has a breakfast room, where dogs are welcome, a lounge, and a kitchen which guests can use. There are welcome packs for canine guests, spare towels, and throws and blankets are provided for furniture. Low Nest Farm also has several self-catering studios which also welcome dogs. The farm has 120 acres of pasture land and meadow, including an enclosed exercise field. The business is run by sisters, Angela Healy and Alison True, who have a wealth of knowledge of the area. Alison has written guides featuring dog walks in the Lake District, which people can buy online. A double en suite room costs between £70 and £85 per night for two people including a full English breakfast. There is a charge of £4 per dog per night, up to a maximum of £20. For further information visit www.lownestfarm.co.uk and www.dogfriendlylakedistrictwalks.co.uk
- Honister Cottage, Seatoller — a charming, dog-friendly cottage in the Borrowdale Valley, situated at the foot of Honister Pass. The 400-year-old cottage is surrounded by breathtaking Cumbrian countryside. At the back of the property there is a big garden leading down to a river. Dog bowls for food and water are provided. Available for weekly lets and short breaks. For further information visit www.discoverparadigm.com or call 01900 825011.
Lanthwaite Wood walk route
This National Trust walk through Lanthwaite Wood, alongside Crummock Water, gives walkers spectacular views of the Buttermere fells and Grasmoor. Owners are asked to keep their dogs under close control while walking the route and not to let them foul on paths or around picnic areas. For more National Trust walks in Cumbria visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk
At a glance
Distance: 4 miles.
Time: 21/2 hours.
Terrain: Some rough or wet paths, and two climbs.
How to get there: The walk begins at Lanthwaite Wood National Trust car park, which is off the B5289.
- Leave the car park through the small gate at the far end from the road. Turn right on to the footpath that runs alongside the River Cocker and follow it all the way to Crummock Water. After heavy rain this path can be quite wet; if this is the case, follow the forest track instead.
- The path brings you to the source of the Cocker, and one of the district’s best viewpoints. From here, follow the track that runs along the left-hand side of the lake through Lanthwaite Wood, followed by High Wood.
- The lakeside path passes through two large fields after leaving High Wood, before entering a long narrow field filled with gorse bushes. Follow the path along the lake shore to the far end of the field, then turn left and follow the grassy path that climbs up to the higher side of the field. Turn left, staying inside the field, and follow the path that runs along the upper edge of all three fields back to High Wood.
- At High Wood, a gate leads on to a road. Cross the road and head straight across the hillside towards Grasmoor End (look for a suitable path through the bracken).
- You will come to a major path running across the hillside. Turn left on to this path and follow it all the way to Liza Beck, where it emerges from Gasgale Gill, between Grasmoor and Whiteside.
- Turn left at the beck and head down the line of an old drainage ditch towards the Iron Age homestead, a series of sunken platforms between the ditch and Liza Beck. After exploring the homestead, continue in the same direction towards the road you crossed earlier.
- Turn right on to the road, then turn left on to the next signposted footpath running along a narrow lane between stone walls. Follow this to the edge of Lanthwaite Wood.
- Just inside the woods, turn right on to a narrow footpath. This follows the edge of the wood, then climbs up on to Brackenthwaite Hows — once a famous viewing station.
- Brackenthwaite Hows has two summits. Follow the path from the first to the second, then curve away to the left to follow a ridge leading into the woods. Follow the path as it drops down Dick Robins’ Steps, and then on to a forestry track. Turn left on to this track, then right at the next junction to return to the starting point.