Just like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the lovely Beatrix Potter, you too can find inspiration among the beautiful lakes and mountain walks that make up the dog-friendly Lake District. By far the UK’s most popular national park, it only takes one visit to become a lifelong lover of the Lakes. It’s easy to see why visitors regularly come back for more – the region feels organic, almost raw, and is layered with lush landscapes, fells and rich countryside. Not to mention the welcome fresh air! There’s also never a bad time to visit the Lakes; it’s great for hat-and-scarf wintery walks and summertime rambling. Every season offers a different, colourful treat and your pup will love exploring the craggy hills and fresh lakes as much as you. With so much to see, we’ve picked out three postcard perfect areas for a fantastic dog-friendly holiday. Pack your wellies, a good few pairs of socks and fido’s long lead and let’s go!
Grasmere is a pretty little town right in the centre of the dog-friendly Lake District, adjacent to Lake Grasmere. It has strong associations with William Wordsworth, a Grasmere resident for 14 years, who said it is “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.” Grasmere is delightfully dog-friendly and offers a wide range of safe walking opportunities, with unspoilt panoramas in every direction.
Indulge fido with the popular Grasmere to Rydal walk. You’ll see Wordsworth’s grave, as well as the yew trees he planted in Dora’s field. The walk is pooch safe and offers two lakes to paddle in on the way as well as falcons to yap at. The walk starts at the Gingerbread shop and brings you right back the village, where you can visit Heidi’s Grasmere Lodge & Café for a delicious scone in a homely location, they even have a Doggy Wall of Fame. Baldry’s Tea Room is another favourite, tastefully decorated and traditionally olde English, with a wonderful lunch and lots of guilt-free (you’ve earned it!) desserts. If you fancy a pub pit-stop with a roaring fire and hearty food, look no further than Tweedie’s Bar, where pups are more than welcome throughout. Also pay Allen Bank, a National Trust property, a visit. The whole grounds and house are dog-friendly, with plenty of woodland walks with spectacular views of Lake Grasmere. There’s dog bowls and biscuits on hand.
It’s hard to get tired of exploring Grasmere’s rolling countryside, but when your feet start to ache from a happy day’s trotting and roaming, it’s time to find a slumber spot close at hand. The dog-friendly Forest Side Hotel is a wonderful Gothic fairytale mansion set amongst 43 acres of woodland, and pups are welcome in six of their spacious rooms. Your dog will even receive their own welcome pack, dog bed, dog bowls and tasty treats. Alternatively, on the shores of Lake Grasmere is the Daffodil Hotel, just 12 minutes walk from Grasmere village and two minutes from William Wordsworth’s house, Dove Cottage. Prime position for exploring Grasmere! The hotel is majestic in size and full of chic furnishings coupled with cosy fireplaces. Dogs are welcomed at a small price per night.
Penrith and Ullswater
Nearby Penrith is another lovely town located just on the outskirts of the Lakes. Known for its castles and Roman history, Penrith offers a great mix of cultural sites and easy access to the quieter side of the Lakes. Pretty Clifton village is a short ride away, too, a must-see for Jacobite history lovers. Head to the George and Dragon pub in Clifton to see the famous Rebel Oak Tree, which represents the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebel army. Enjoyably, the George and Dragon pub offers a welcome pup-friendly pit stop. The walls are covered in sepia photos and Lowther family memorabilia and the menu is fantastically hearty and tasty.
Penrith’s Brougham Castle is of traditional English heritage and dogs on leads are welcome throughout the grounds (except the private land nearby). The Castle is a 13th century masterpiece and it sits on the picturesque River Eamont with gorgeous views. If you’re after a good walk with your pup, dog-friendly Askham Hall is another great place to head to. Askham Hall is set in the lesser known part of the Lake District but is a really easy morning or afternoon activity from Penrith. The Hall is surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes and is the perfect place for brisk walks that aren’t too hard on paws. The walking routes start off at the house and you can choose whether to climb fells or take the river routes. After you’ve finished you’ll have earned serious scone and jam points at the Hall’s Café.
Enter the green Lakes towards Ullswater to rest your head after a hard day’s walking and doggy paddling at the pet-friendly riverside Sharrow Bay Hotel, which offers spectacular river views and is decadently decorated in muted greens and purples, reflective of the impressive mountains outside its windows. Perfectly located for exploring the eastern side of the Lakes, this well-decorated, bright and stylish hotel has a pup concierge and special dog-friendly rooms (phone ahead to ensure you get one). Special mention goes to dog-friendly hotel Another Place, The Lake, an original Georgian building that’s blended new, modern wings with its old heritage. The dog-friendly rooms feature vintage touches and lovely space to relax and unwind.
For those that amble a little further into the Lakes, Inn on The Lake is another lovely sleeping option, with superb grounds running all the way around the lake that provide a fantastic pup playing ground. There’s 47 plush ensuite rooms with special rooms allocated for pets.
Perhaps the most famous lake is Lake Windermere. It is surrounded by mountain peaks and villages including pretty Bowness-on-Windermere, trails leading to Orrest Head and Holehird Gardens, known for its beautiful alpine flora. Windermere provides a good centre ground for those visiting the Lake District for the first time and dogs will have a great time splashing on the edges of the lake!
Nestled near the Northern tip of Lake Windermere is dog-friendly, boutique retreat Rothay Manor. This sumptuous manor house combines old world charm with all of the modern creature comforts and is the pawfect bolthole for adventures in nearby Ambleside. A picture perfect little town with plenty of winding streets to explore with fido. Don’t miss a visit to The Wateredge Inn, this 17th-century dog-friendly pub makes an ideal lunch stop after exploring the nearby Ghyll Force waterfall.
The Wild Boar pet-friendly hotel is located on the south side of the lake in the stunning Gilpin Valley. It is known for its excellent cuisine and has an old oak interior, complete with log fires and interesting paintings. There’s 34 ensuite bedrooms (book well in advance to secure a dog-friendly room), many of which have four poster beds.
On the southern tip of Windermere is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway where you and pup (who rides for free!) can ride the steam locomotive, that dates back to the 1950s, which travels the 3.5 miles along the pretty former Furness Railway branch line. This is a wonderful way to see much of the surrounding Windermere countryside and takes you right to the lake, where you can also catch a cruise to the other side for a unique Windermere experience.
From Windermere you can easily get to the southern fells of the Lake District. Famous Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and is about two hours drive from Windermere, making it a good day trip option. If you’re travelling around the southern fells, the Woolpack Inn is not too far from Scafell Pike itself for ambitious ramblers. There’s a small pup fee and you’ll receive a doggy bed and a special dog breakfast!
Whatever the weather and time of year, the Lake District is one of our favourite places to visit with dogs. There’s simply so much to see and do, with breath-taking surroundings at every turn, you simply can’t miss out.
Where’s you and your pup’s favourite stop in the Lake District? We’d love to hear. Send us a note or fill in our ‘Recommend a Venue’ form. Enjoy!
Updated June 2019