The UK is fortunate to have access to thousands of miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches but, at the height of holiday season, doggie paddlers are usually excluded from tourist areas.
However, there are some glorious truly dog-friendly seaside destinations that welcome waggy tails without any restrictions.
Here are ten of the best beaches you can explore with your pet at any time of the year…
Just along the coast from Weston-Super-Mare, Brean Beach boasts one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe at seven miles long. It’s popular with dog walkers as there’s so much space for dogs to run free. However, beware of the mud flats that appear at low tide as it’s easy to get stuck in them if you walk too far out.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can also climb the 97 metre Brean Down, where you’ll find a Roman temple, Victorian fortress and stunning views of the coast.
Beach type: Sand and mud flats
Nearest town: Weston-Super-Mare
Facilities: Toilets and beach café
Named one of the world’s top 25 beaches in 2020 for its brilliant white sand and turquoise water, Luskentyre Sands is one of Harris’ largest beaches. This wild, remote part of the Outer Hebrides stretches over three miles and is a haven for birdlife and rare wildflowers.
You won’t find much by way of amenities at this untouched natural beauty spot but there is a public toilet.
Beach type: Sand
Nearest town: Stornoway
Seaham Beach is famed for its sea glass so is a beachcomber’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’s about half a mile long.
Beach type: Sand, stones and rock pools
Nearest town: Seaham
Facilities: Toilets, picnic area and coffee shops
Rhossili Bay is located at the western end of the Gower peninsula in Wales – the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, designated in 1956. Rhossili Bay has a three-mile stretch of golden sand and is on the Wales Coast Path for those who also like to hike.
The National Trust currently looks after two-thirds of the beach and parking is free for members.
Beach type: Sand
Nearest city: Swansea
Facilities: Toilets, places to eat and drink, and shops
There’s sand, sand and more sand at Holkham beach, which is part of the Holkham Nature Reserve looked after in partnership with Natural England.
This unspoilt stretch of coastline is a favourite with filmmakers (remember Gwyneth Paltrow walking across the sand at the end of Shakespeare in Love?) and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, who hold a training camp at Holkham each summer and cool their hooves in the sea.
Beach type: Sand
Nearest town: Wells-next-the-Sea
Facilities: Toilets and café at beach entrance
The famous home of British surfing is also a haven for canine holidaymakers as dogs are made welcome everywhere in Newquay, including restaurants and shops. The beach is west facing with a long stretch of sand, cliffs and sand dunes.
Between Easter Bank Holiday and the end of October each year there is RNLI lifeguard cover too so, if you fancy taking to the water, you can do so safely.
Beach type: Sand
Nearest town: Newquay
Facilities: Toilets, showers, restaurants, cafés and surf equipment hire
The picturesque village of Runswick Bay is full of red-roofed cottages and brightly coloured fishing boats. The beach itself – which is right in front of the village – is small and sheltered with rock pools on either side and is a popular choice for fossil hunters.
Runswick Bay is also situated on the 110-mile Cleveland Way national trail, which skirts the North York Moors National Park if you and your dog are feeling adventurous!
Beach type: Sand, mud and cliff
Nearest town: Whitby
Facilities: Toilets, beachside café and shop
If you’re looking for something a bit different to the usual sandcastle-building and paddling holiday, you might enjoy a trip to Dungeness. The beach here is the second largest shingle formation in the world and is a rather surreal sight. This unique barren landscape attracts one million visitors annually and many of them have dogs.
Dungeness can be accessed by the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch steam train, which welcomes canine passengers.
Beach type: Shingle
Nearest town: Lydd
Facilities: Toilets and café
The whole of the Isle of Wight is extremely dog-friendly but when it comes to beaches, Bembridge is probably the best. With the harbour at one end and the lifeboat station at the other, the beach has plenty of room for dogs to run free and affords stunning views across the Solent to Portsmouth.
The beach is mostly pebble but when the tide is out a good stretch of sand is revealed among the rockpools.
Beach type: Sand, pebble and rock
Nearest town: Ryde
Facilities: Toilets, café, shop and pier
St Bees beach consists of a shingle bank which slopes down to a mile of beautiful golden sand, which is accessible at all times apart from a couple of hours either side of the high tide.
The RSPB nature reserve on St Bees Head is home to a range of seabirds including guillemots and razorbills. There are also peregrine falcons in the red sandstone cliffs.
Beach type: Sand and pebble
Nearest town: Whitehaven
Facilities: Toilets, promenade, play area, beach shop and café
I’ve spent 20 years writing about pets and exploring the wonderful relationships they have with their owners. I started as a staff writer on Dogs Today magazine, working my way up to become deputy editor in 2008. In 2010, I left the office to pursue a freelance career, relocated to north Norfolk and started a family.
Over the years I’ve contributed thoughtful human-interest features, celebrity interviews and investigative news stories to publications including The Sunday Times, Dogs Today, Dogs Monthly and Your Cat. I’ve also ghost-written veterinary books and 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.