Doggie paddles: 10 of the best dog-friendly beaches in the UK

<span>Holkham beach in Norfolk is dog-friendly year-round.</span><span>Photograph: Lottie Gross</span>
Holkham beach in Norfolk is dog-friendly year-round.Photograph: Lottie Gross

Holkham beach, Norfolk

Dog-friendly year-round but with an on-leads rule between 1 April and 31 August to protect ground-nesting birds, Holkham beach is a brilliant family destination. The walk down to the golden sand is enchanting – along boardwalks and through pine forest – and there’s a cafe serving homemade sandwiches and cakes. Lots of great local walks too.
Stay pet-friendly Sueda Cottage, with its own walled garden, is a minute’s walk from the harbour and pub. From £89 a night (sleeps 4, plus two dogs)

Bamburgh, Northumberland

Stretching from Budle Water at its northern point to the town of Seahouses in the south, Bamburgh Beach is a mighty swathe of soft sand, backed by an imposing castle. There’s ample space for dogs to run – even in the height of summer – and grassy dunes to explore, but dog-owners should be mindful of the presence of adders in warmer weather.
Stay Brunton House & Cottages has a large house and several cottages to rent, with one or two dogs allowed; cottage for two from £85 a night

Saunton Sands, Devon

Backed by the Unesco-protected Braunton Burrows biosphere reserve, Saunton Sands is a spectacular three-mile sweep of sand on the north Devon coast. Perfect for families with dogs, there’s a cafe and takeaway hatch selling everything from fish and chips to ice-cream, a surf school and toilet facilities. The entrance to the beach is at the northern end, the farther south you stroll the fewer people you’ll see.
Stay Loft Treehouse at Pickwell Manor, near Croyde, has sea views and accepts dogs. From £220 a night (sleeps 2, one dog allowed for £15)

Portobello, Edinburgh

One of Edinburgh’s liveliest seaside neighbourhoods, Portobello has a seafront promenade where cafes and pubs spill out on to the street, and a lovely wide beach with space for dogs to play. There are plenty of places to get fish and chips or ice-cream to eat on the sand, and homemade dog snacks can be bought from Harry’s Gourmet Treats on the high street.
Stay in nearby Stockbridge the chic dog-friendly Garden Apartment on St Bernard’s Crescent has an enclosed garden, from £225 a night (sleeps 4, plus one dog)

Dungeness beach, Kent

This swathe of shingle on the Kent coast is dog-friendly year-round and has numerous intriguing elements such as the bleak, black lighthouse and the former home of artist and activist Derek Jarman. You can get there on the steam railway from nearby Hythe. A boardwalk leads down to the water from Lydd beach car park, and excellent fish and chips can be had at the Britannia Inn.
Stay North Stable, a stylish stable conversion just a short drive away costs from £110 a night (sleeps 4, plus two dogs)

Broad Haven South, Pembrokeshire

There’s a car park on the cliffs surrounding Broad Haven South, but a much better way to arrive is through the trails at Bosherston Lakes where magnificent lilies spread out across the surface of the water in June. Wander across boardwalks and over dunes to reach the beach, which has views of the dramatic Church Rock in the distance. It’s on the Wales Coast Path too with easy walks to several other beaches.
Stay Whimsy by the Sea is a dog-friendly cabin on the Timber Hill Estate. From £90 a night (minimum stay of 7 nights, sleeps 4, plus two dogs)

Man O’War beach, Dorset

Few beaches enjoy such sheltered bathing as Man O’War beach in Dorset; its near-perfect crescent shape and rocky outcrops keep the wild currents out. This makes it brilliant for swimming – especially for kids or dogs new to such activities – and a good bet on blustery days. Walk along the coast path for views of Durdle Door sea arch.
Stay The Castle Inn in West Lulworth which has pet-friendly rooms, from £112 for a double (£20 extra for a dog)

Tynemouth Longsands beach, Tyne & Wear

Stick to the northern end of the gorgeous Longsands beach and you can bring the dog with you all year round. This is a brilliant spot for swimming and surfing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars a few minutes’ walk away in the town centre – including the excellent Riley’s fish shop.
Stay Tilly’s Hut at Hillside Huts & Cabins, a shepherd’s hut with a glass roof for stargazing and heaps of space to explore. From £160 a night (sleeps 2, pets welcome)

Lytham St Annes beach, Lancashire

Lytham St Annes is a couple of miles from bustling Blackpool and is certainly less busy, but it still has a handsome pier with ice-cream shops and fish and chip vendors, plus beach huts you can rent by the day.
Stay The Boot Room, set back from the coast and near the Forest of Bowland costs from £156 a night, minimum stay of 4 nights (sleeps 4, plus two dogs)

Ceannabeinne beach, Sutherland

On the popular North Coast 500 route, Ceannabeinne is a geological marvel. A sloping footpath leads from the car park down to soft yellow sand backed by rocky cliffs, and outcrops jut from its surface in pink and slate-grey. It’s all part of the Lewisian gneiss, a complex of rocks thought to be between 1.7 and three billion years old. The beach is dog-friendly year-round, and adventurous types can try the zipline that swooshes over the sand.
Stay The Scourie Hotel is a small, stylish bolthole a 45-minute drive from the beach on the North Coast 500. Doubles from £115 B&B (two dogs permitted per room, £20 each)

Dog Days Out, 365 things to do with your dog in the UK and Ireland, by Lottie Gross in association with Sawday’s, is on sale now from for £20, including free P&P.