Sussex, famous for Pond Pudding, the Battle of Hastings, links to Jane Austen and for being a geographic muse to renowned painters Turner and Constable, is one of the UK’s most historic counties. Once known as the Kingdom of Sussex, the county has a lot to offer the discerning pup. Green and majestic, make sure you pack your lead, sturdy wellies and a couple of solid jumpers, as well as your history hat: we’re going full on Time Team in dog-friendly Sussex.
First of all, the sleeping arrangements. A cherished escape of ours is dog-friendly The Gallivant in East Sussex, a hotel that combines rustic themes with contemporary chic. Quite lovely inside, it is situated right on Camber Sands, and the beach is just 200 metres away over the dunes – sure to get tails wagging. Dogs are welcome in specially paw-picked rooms and the hotel provides dog biscuits and dog beds. The food here is particularly good, too, and The Gallivant is particularly proud of its menu: 95% of the fresh ingredients are from within 10 miles of the hotel. There’s also a special Beach Hut spa room in the corner of their serene coastal garden – perfect for a spot of uninterrupted relaxation.
If the beach and amazing eats are your thing then nearby Rye, also in East Sussex, will be right up your alley. Rye itself is a lovely, well-preserved medieval town on the coast and we can highly recommend eating at The George in Rye, a very ‘old meets new’ building that was built in 1575 from reclaimed ships’ timbers. The menu here is yummy and dogs are very welcome to sit with you at the bar as well as the courtyard outside.
Rye is great for quirky little finds. Edith’s House in Rye is a super dog-friendly coffee house and café, great for popping into on your way to Hastings. Decorated in 1950s style, with mismatched china and oozing hipster nostalgia, they serve up some of the best scones and cream teas in Sussex.
For those staying in East Sussex coastal areas, the 1066 Walk is a must-do with pup in tow. The route commemorates the 1066 Battle of Hastings and runs through East Sussex, finishing at Pevensey Castle. There’s plenty to see on the way like oast houses, windmills and stretches of the gloriously windswept High Weald Area of Outstanding National Beauty. A great place to stop off for a bite to eat is The Ash Tree Inn in rural Ashburnham. Built in the 17th Century, the inn offers guests traditional home cooked food, real ales and a leafy garden. Dogs are allowed at the bar with you.
If you make it to Pevensey Castle, it’s a great idea to start heading west and explore the Sussex nature reserves. National Trust lovers should make their way to the Sheffield Park and Garden in Uckfield where both you and pup can explore acres of historic parkland. Dogs are welcome on the parkland and also in the garden (after 1.30pm daily), as well as its Tea Room, a lovely spot to soak up the surroundings and enjoy locally made lunches, high tea and nibbles.
Over in West Sussex, grand scenery meets grand accommodation. A lovely paw-friendly place to stay is the beautiful South Lodge, in Horsham. Dogs will love exploring the surrounding woods and parkland, and there’s also a croquet lawn and tennis courts. The Billiard Bar is splendid for afternoon tea and the dinner menu is award-winning. Add that the mattresses are handmade, and you may never want to leave. Pets receive a welcome package on arrival and are invited into most areas, including the regal Great Hall. While if so true R&R is needed, indulge you and your dog with a stay at pet-friendly Alexander House Hotel. Dating back to the 17th Century, this Jacobean country house hotel is a delight for humans and hounds. With its extensive spa facilities and abundance of countryside grounds to explore, there’s plenty to revitalise both you and your dog at this colourful retreat.
For a laid-back vibe, head to The White Horse over in Chichester. Self-confessed ‘dog people’, pups are treated like royalty at this beautifully decorated inn, and are greeted with a comfy bed, food and water. 15 of the inn’s rooms are dog-friendly, and comfort really is the order of the day here; the inn’s menus have that delicious home-cooked feel, the décor involves a chic blend of old wood furniture set against modern brick walls with armchairs you can sink into after a long day walking.
Word to the wise: if do you pass through Chichester, a lovely stop off for lunch or dinner is The Earl of March, a country pub and restaurant that sits just by picturesque Goodwood. The Earl opens its doors to all four-legged friends, with dogs welcome in the bar, lounge, patio and garden areas. Dog treats are always on hand for hungry pups and the menus here are exceptional, as are the extensive wine and ale lists.
When exploring South West Sussex, make sure to spare time to visit West Wittering Beach. Cross the dunes to a truly special stretch of golden sand running as far as the eye can see, it is dog-friendly, other than the short stretch in front of the beach huts, all year round. Your dog will adore splashing in the waves here. When your four-legged friend has tired themselves out, drive around the coastline to Bosham. This enchanting coastal village lies on a small peninsula by Chichester harbour. Its picturesque streets and houses take you back to a bygone time, while the quay is an idyllic place for you and your dog to survey the activity on the water, from the hundreds of moorings to the wildlife at play.
Rounding off our tour of dog-friendly Sussex, heading south, down through West Sussex, is the Cissbury Ring on the South Downs National Park – an absolute must. This Iron Age hill fort was built in 300 BC and is a great place to bring your dog (who might learn a thing or two) for a walk. It takes roughly 1.5 hours and is a fascinating snapshot back in time. Bring your camera!
Updated June 2019