Devon is one of the best places in the UK to go on holiday with your dog. Walking man’s best friend in this beautiful part of the world is never a chore. Craggy cliff paths, winding woodland trails and rural rambles across misty moorland are all the more enjoyable with your dog by your side.
Yet one of the most satisfying sights for a dog owner is to see their four-legged friend bounding excitedly across a beach – sending sand flying every time their paws hit the ground. Whether doggy digging or doggy paddling, rock climbing or playing fetch with a shell (and of course sniffing all manner of fishy smells!) – a trip to the beach is heaven for dogs.
Most Devon beaches welcome dogs out of season, but from Easter, or in some cases from 1st May, dog restrictions apply on many of the county’s most popular beaches. Whilst this means you can usually still bring your pooch if you’re happy to keep to one end, or keep him on the lead, this can be limiting, so it’s also good to know where your loyal companion is welcome all year round.
We’ve compiled a list of Devon’s top 10 dog-friendly beaches with no dog restrictions, so you and your dog can visit together whatever the season. Here’s our top pick of dog friendly beaches in Devon…
Dog-Friendly Beaches in South Devon
1. Soar Mill Cove, near Salcombe
Nestled on a picturesque stretch of coastline between Salcombe and Thurlestone you’ll find Soar Mill Cove. The beach is accessible from the South West Coast Path, or down a hill and across a field from the car park, so it’s a great place to stretch your legs with your dog, taking in the sea air and spectacular views en route to the beach. Once at sea level, the beach itself is sandy, with caves and rock pools at low tide, and a crystal clear stream running into the sea. Soar Mill Cove is a wonderful spot to watch the sunset streaking the western horizon. If you stay late, don’t forget a torch to find your way back!
2. South Milton Sands, Thurlestone
A large sandy beach popular with dog walkers all year round. Backed by grassy dunes and a nature reserve, with the iconic Thurlestone Rock just off shore and views across Bigbury Bay. Low tide exposes rocks for climbing and fascinating rock pools to investigate. At high tide there is still enough beach to walk along, and also a wooden bridge and footpath over the nature reserve. There’s a popular beach café and toilets at the same end of the beach as the National Trust car park.
3. Beesands, near Kingsbridge
The small fishing village of Beesands enjoys a wide shingle beach with scenic sea views over Start Bay and toward Start Bay Lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. There’s a huge sea wall protecting the popular village pub, former fishermen’s cottages, and Britannia beach shack fish restaurant, whilst the more exposed northern end of the beach was recently eroded during easterly winter storms when the sea took away some of the road and land behind, extending the depth of the beach. This beach is popular among anglers, and dogs love running up and down the pebbles sniffing out any leftover bait. There’s plenty of free parking and toilets and it’s possible to walk to the lighthouse and back within a couple of hours from here, and enjoy refreshments in the dog-friendly pub afterwards.
4. North Sands, Salcombe
Small, very picturesque sandy beach, with stunning views of the Salcombe Estuary, Sunny Cove on the East Portlemouth side and out to sea past Wolf Rock. North Sands is an easy, level walk of just 15 minutes on foot from Salcombe town along Cliff Road, or there’s plenty of parking behind the beach. Alternatively you can access the beach via boat, paddleboard or kayak from one of the other beaches or Salcombe itself. The beach welcomes dogs all year round and is also popular with families due to the safe bay, soft sand perfect for sandcastles and many rockpools to explore at low tide. There’s a popular dog-friendly beach café and restaurant behind the beach, as well as toilet facilities. You can also further exercise your dog by walking up and over the hill along to the next beach, South Sands, for a different aspect of this pretty estuary.
5. Wonwell Sands, near Modbury
A beautiful sandy beach set on the east bank of the river Erme. The beach is best at low tide when a huge expanse of sand is exposed for your dog to race across, and the beach joins up with Meadowsfoot (Mothecombe). However, you need to be aware of tides as they come in fast here and there’s a risk of getting cut off at high tide.
Parking near the beach is very limited and there are no facilities. There’s parking for about 15-20 cars in the lane above the river’s edge. From the road there is a pretty woodland walk (signposted as a public footpath) to Wonwell Beach, which takes about 10 minutes. There’s also a slipway from the road to the shore of the Erme river and at low tide it’s possible to walk along the river’s edge to Wonwell Beach. Dogs are welcome all year round here, and if you can find a place to park it makes for the most enjoyable and picturesque mix of woodland and coastal walk.
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Dog-Friendly Beaches in North Devon
6. Clovelly Beach, near Bideford
Clovelly has a small pebble beach which is sheltered from the strongest waves by its old harbour wall. This historic and picturesque village is car-free; visitors have to park at the top of Clovelly and walk down the steep, cobbled streets to access the beach, maintaining the village’s old-world charm. Everything you need for a day on the beach can be found in the village, such as public toilets, shops, pubs and restaurants. There is diverse marine wildlife to be found in the bay so the area is particularly popular for snorkelling. The beach itself welcomes dogs year-round and is right next to the South West Coast Path. The section between Clovelly and Mouthmill is arguably one of the most spectacular parts of this beautiful walking trail and perfect for a coastal and beach walk with your dog.
7. Saunton Sands, near Braunton
Saunton Sands is a huge, beautiful 3-mile stretch of sandy beach which is very dog-friendly and welcomes waggy tails 365 days of the year. As you reach the end of the slipway, dog walkers are asked to turn left as dogs are not permitted on the small space to the right of the slipway. If the beach is busy, dog owners are asked to keep dogs on the lead until they are past the crowds. Alternatively, there is a shortcut through the dunes, accessed from the left-hand side of the car park that leads directly on to the beach further down where your dog an run free.
8. Ilfracombe – Harbour, Rapperee & Wildersmouth Beaches
Ilfracombe is a very dog-friendly town with most of the shops, pubs and restaurants welcoming well-behaved dogs on leads. When it comes to year-round dog-friendly beaches in Ilfracombe, there are a couple to choose from. Harbour (Strand) Beach is a golden sandy beach on the inner harbour itself. At high tide there is no sand or access, and at all tides you need to be aware of boats and keep clear of the slipway so the RNLI lifeboat can have emergency access. Rapperee Beach is fairly isolated, yet popular among dog walkers. Access is via a steep walkway. Wildersmouth Beach is right on the seafront next to Capstone Hill, and is rocky with black sand and a stream running through. This beach is accessible at all but the highest of Spring tides.
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Dog-Friendly Beaches in East Devon
9. Lyme Regis – Monmouth Beach, Cobb Gate and East Beach
The pretty coastal town of Lyme Regis, with its famous historic Cobb harbour wall, has a selection of beaches that welcome dogs all year round, where you can enjoy spectacular views across Lyme Bay as you take your seaside stroll. Monmouth Beach is pebbly and steeply shelves, whilst Cobb Gate and East Beach are flat and sandy – all are dog-friendly year-round. There are plenty of facilities along the promenade and in the town.
10. Sidmouth, Jacob’s Ladder Beach
Jacob’s Ladder is the sandy, western end of Sidmouth’s town beach, which is mostly pebble. This part of the beach is backed by steep cliffs that often give good shelter from the breeze, and features a large expanse of sand and plenty of rock pools to explore at low tide. Access is either by walking round from the town’s main beach via a level path, or from Connaught Gardens using the series of wooden steps that give the beach its name. Dogs are welcome all year on part of this beach, with seasonal restrictions on the main beach.
Find your perfect dog-friendly holiday cottage in East Devon.