Five Unforgettable Dog Walks in the West Country
The West Country is one of the most spectacular parts of the UK, and a great place to go walking. The best way to do it is on the South Coast Path. Dogs are allowed on the entire 630 miles of the trail that runs from Minehead through Exmoor, Ilfracombe, Bude, Newquay and Padstow, down to the tip of the country before returning eastwards on the south coast via Falmouth, St Austell, Looe and finishing in Dorset’s Poole Harbour. There are many great sections to this Path, (indeed, it’s hard to find a bad one), and we’ve chosen some that are especially suitable for dog walkers.
One of our favourites is Newquay to Perranporth. The path runs along the north coast, along the famous Fistral Beach with its surfers, and then crosses the River Gannel. This part depends on what time of year you are taking the walk, ensure you get the tide times right to avoid a long detour. You’ll see plenty of salt marsh plants and wading birds as you cross the wooden footbridge, and once on the other side you can head off towards West Pentire and its Site of Special Scientific Interest. Your dog will love bounding through the breathtaking fields of seasonal wildflowers such as the June poppies and corn marigold flowers. Later you will see the twin pyramids of Carter’s Rocks standing out to sea as you reach the Holywell dunes. Cross these leg sappers and the town of Perranporth is visible across the beach.
A lovely walk in Exmoor National Park for you and your dog is Heddon’s Mouth walk. It starts and ends at the dog friendly Hunter’s Inn close to Parracombe. It’s a gentle stroll of just over two miles, but the amount of scrambling up and down the sides of valleys and across the beach your dog will do will soon rack up the distance. The walk starts under huge trees by the river and wends its way through bracken clad slopes down to the sea, before returning southwards to the Inn and a well earned pint.
On the southern part of the peninsula is Frogmore and Lansallos, in the Polperro Heritage Coast area. A nice circular route over a moderate distance of 4.5 miles, the path takes you through remote countryside, rich woodland and open fields. In keeping with this part of the world, there are plenty of ups and downs to add variety and a bit more challenge to the route.
A good walk towards the end of the South Coast Path is around Worth Matravers in Dorset. It’s a challenging circular trail that encompasses the dramatic Jurassic coastline, caves, quarries, ridged hillsides and local farmland. It’s not one for new walkers, the going can be rough at some points, but experienced walkers – two legged and four – will love tackling the varied terrain and taking in the stunning scenery.
A short distance from Bideford is the Buck’s Mills and Peppercombe Castle walk. The route takes you along high coastal paths affording you some spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, through trees beside streams, and down to the beach itself. It’s a quiet area, rich in wildlife and old buildings, where flocks of birds explode from the undergrowth in a flurry of wings, and there are a dozen interesting smells in every direction.
More details on all these walks and more can be found on the South West Coast Path website.