Ah, Dorset. This county is full of surprises. Fans of Broadchurch should take note as we explore Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, beautiful countryside and historical landmarks. Famed for literary figures like Thomas Hardy, Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton, and its fair share of local tasty treats (Dorset Knob, anyone?) we’re excited to introduce dog-friendly Dorset, possibly our most favourite of counties yet.
Slice of Dorset apple cake in hand, we’re starting in the ancient market town of Sherborne, where quaint streets are overlooked by romantic castle ruins. Regal pups will love 16th century Tudor mansion, Sherborne Castle, which has pooch-friendly grounds and gardens. For a taste of countryside chic, check pup into the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne. This boutique townhouse has eight elegant dog-friendly rooms and wonderful Georgian-style interiors.
Sniff out Dorset’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
From Sherborne, Dorset’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a stone’s throw away. Wind through pretty Minterne Magna, taking pup for a trot around the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55-metre nude male chalk figure wielding a club, until reaching Evershot. A Thomas Hardy favourite, Evershot is full of old English charm, including must-see pub, The Acorn Inn, which has dog-friendly rooms. Featured in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, this dog-friendly inn boasts old beams, roaring fires and fantastic food.
For forty winks, enchanting Summer Lodge Country House Hotel is minutes away, which welcomes pup with bowls, beds, towels and doggy menu. For you, there are lush furnishings, boutique spa, idyllic surroundings and trails on your doorstep across the River Frome.
Moving east, we arrive at Puddletown, on the River Piddle. This lovely village retains the magic of times past and cheese lovers will be delighted to discover that it is (almost) home to the Blue Vinny, a hard crumbly blue. Celebrate the local cheese at fantastic pup-friendly pub, The Blue Vinny, which serves locally sourced dishes and of course, plenty of the blue.
Walk off lunch by visiting Athelhampton House and Gardens. This 15th century manor house has the greatest architectural gardens in England, which pup is welcome to explore. The gardens are full of vistas, topiary pyramids, tulips and a boardwalk that takes you directly to the banks of the River Piddle. Remember to pack pup’s towel!
Explore Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast
Nearby Dorchester is lovely to explore on foot and paw. The town’s history traces back to the Iron Age and there are plenty of Roman artefacts. Let pup sniff around the remains before heading south to the stunning Jurassic Coast. This world-famous UNESCO heritage site stretches 95 miles and is host to Durdle Door, a magnificent and picture-pawfect limestone arch. The Door’s sandy beach is pooch-friendly and pup will love splashing in the shallows. Nearby Man o’ War Beach is also dog-friendly and provides a sweeping lookout of the rugged coastline.
Moving along the coast, Kimmeridge is perfect for dog-friendly walking trails and rock pooling. Craggy Corfe Castle is just around the corner in the heart of the Purbeck Hills. Built by William the Conqueror, pup is welcome around the fortification. You’ll find a lovely bite to eat at the Greyhound Inn at Corfe Castle that has an inspired menu, low ceilings and oak floors.
Hopping across the water we land in lovely Sandbanks, a small peninsula that sits at the mouth of Poole Harbour. The beach is pup-friendly and there’s plenty of colourful beach-side fun to be had. When hungry, trot into Rick Stein’s Sandbanks restaurant for stunning sea views, wonderful seafood dishes and fido-friendly interiors.
Finally, we’re heading up to Blandford Forum, nestled in Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are plenty of woodland trails pup will love. When it’s time for a refreshment, dip into the super 17th century Museum Inn in Farnham for seasonal British food and real ales. The elegant Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury is the perfect place to lay weary paws, full of Dorset’s heart and soul. The Bar at Grosvenor Arms is equally pup-friendly and provides deep comfy sofas and delicious drinks. Alternatively, check into Grade-II listed stately home 10 Castle Street in Cranborne, for a sumptuous pup-friendly overnight stay.
So, pack pup’s Thomas Hardy compendium and head to Dorset, surely the most scenic county in the UK – you won’t be disappointed.
For other pet-friendly county guides, check out our destinations page.