The UK is fortunate to have access to thousands of miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches, but at the height of the holiday season dog paddlers are generally left out of tourist areas.
However, there are some glorious, truly dog-friendly beach destinations that cater for choppy tails without any restrictions.
Here are ten of the best beaches that you can explore with your pet anytime of the year …
1. Brean Beach, Somerset
Just along the coast of Weston-Super-Mare, Brean Beach has one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe, 7 miles long. It is popular with dog walkers because there is so much space for dogs to run around freely. However, beware of mudflats that appear at low tide as it is easy to get stuck in them if you walk too far.
If you’re feeling energized, you can also climb the 97-meter Brean Down, where you’ll find a Roman temple, a Victorian fortress, and stunning views of the coast.
Beach type: Sand and mud
closest town: Weston-Super-Mare
Facilities: Toilets and beach cafe
2. Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris
Named one of the 25 Best Beaches in the World for 2020 for its brilliant white sands and turquoise water, Luskentyre Sands is one of Harris’ largest beaches. This wild and remote part of the Outer Hebrides stretches for over three miles and is a haven for birds and rare wildflowers.
You won’t find much in terms of amenities in this unspoiled natural site, but there are public restrooms.
Beach type: Sand
closest town: Stornoway
3. Seaham Beach, County Durham
Seaham Beach is famous for its sea glass, so it’s a beach-goer’s paradise, as well as being popular with dog walkers and fossil hunters. You can access the beach from several points along the promenade and it is about 800 meters long.
Beach type: Sand, pebbles and rock pools
closest town: Seaham
Facilities: Toilets, picnic area and cafes
4. Rhossili Bay, Glamorgan
Rhossili Bay is located at the western end of Wales’ Gower Peninsula – the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, designated in 1956. Rhossili Bay has a three-mile stretch of golden sand and sits on the Wales Coast Path for those who enjoy hiking.
The National Trust currently takes care of two-thirds of the beach and parking is free for members.
Beach type: Sand
The nearest city: Swansea
Facilities: Toilets, places to eat and drink, and shops
5. Holkham, Norfolk
There is sand, sand and more sand on Holkham Beach, which is part of the Holkham Nature Reserve maintained in partnership with Natural England.
This unspoiled stretch of coastline is a favorite spot for filmmakers (remember Gwyneth Paltrow walking on the sand at the end of Shakespeare in Love?).
Beach type: Sand
closest town: Wells-next-the-Sea
Facilities: Toilets and cafe at the entrance to the beach
6. Fistral Beach, Cornwall
The famous British surf house is also a canine vacationer’s paradise, as dogs are welcome everywhere in Newquay, including restaurants and shops. The beach faces west with a long stretch of sand, cliffs and sand dunes.
Between the Easter holidays and the end of October each year there is also RNLI lifeguard blanket, so if you feel like taking a dip you can safely do so.
Beach type: Sand
closest town: Newquay
Facilities: Toilets, showers, restaurants, cafes and rental of surf equipment
7. Runswick Bay, Yorkshire
The picturesque village of Runswick Bay is full of red-roofed cottages and brightly colored fishing boats. The beach itself – which is right in front of the village – is small and sheltered by rock pools on either side and is a popular choice for fossil hunters.
Runswick Bay is also located on the 110 mile Cleveland Way State Trail, which runs alongside the North York Moors National Park if you and your dog are feeling adventurous!
Beach type: Sand, mud and cliff
closest town: Whitby
Facilities: Toilets, café and boutique on the beach
8. Dungeness, Kent
If you’re looking for something a little different from the usual sandcastle-building and boating vacation, you might enjoy a trip to Dungeness. The beach here is the second largest pebble formation in the world and is a rather surreal sight. This unique barren landscape attracts a million visitors each year and many of them have dogs.
Dungeness is accessible by the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch steam train, which caters to canine passengers.
Beach type: Shingle
closest town: Lydd
Facilities: Toilets and coffee
9. Bembridge Beach, Isle of Wight
The entire Isle of Wight is extremely dog friendly, but when it comes to beaches, Bembridge is probably the best. With the harbor at one end and the lifeboat station at the other, the beach has plenty of room for dogs to run around freely and offers stunning views across the Solent to Portsmouth.
The beach is mostly pebbles, but when the tide is low a good stretch of sand is revealed among the rock pools.
Beach type: Sand, pebble and rock
closest town: Ryde
Facilities: Toilets, café, shop and pier
10. St Bees Beach (Seacote Beach), Cumbria
St Bees beach consists of a pebble bank that descends to a mile of beautiful golden sand, which is accessible at all times except a few hours on either side of high tide.
The RSPB Nature Reserve on St Bees Head is home to a range of seabirds, including murres and razorbills. There are also peregrine falcons in the red sandstone cliffs.
Beach type: Sand and pebble
closest town: Whitehaven
Facilities: Toilets, promenade, playground, beach shop and café
I have spent 20 years writing about pets and exploring the wonderful relationships they have with their owners. I started as an editor for Dogs Today magazine, then rose through the ranks to become an associate editor in 2008. In 2010, I left the office to pursue a freelance career, moved to north Norfolk and started a family.
Over the years, I have contributed human interest reporting, celebrity interviews, and investigative reporting to publications such as The Sunday Times, Dogs Today, Dogs Monthly, and Your Cat. I have also written veterinary books and ghost press releases for the pet industry.
When I’m not writing I enjoy long walks in the Norfolk countryside with my rescue lurcher Popsie. These are always followed by tea and cake.