activity-holidays

The best dog-friendly holiday destinations

The Best Dog-friendly <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday DestinationsS MAG

Victoria and her dogs loved stretching their legs on the Scillies stunning beaches

Isles of Scilly

Turquoise seas, exotic sub-tropical gardens and white sandy beaches are normally associated with long-haul flights, but when your travelling companions are of the four-legged variety, this isn t really an option.

The Isles of Scilly promise all these things and more, and are only a stone s throw from the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula. The Scillies form an archipelago five of the islands are inhabited and the other 135 or so range in size from small islets to rugged, rocky outcrops. But all are home to a wealth of sea and bird life.

Our adventure began in Penzance where my husband George, the hounds and I joined the Scillonian III, a handsome passenger ferry that makes the return trip from the mainland once a day.

We d been told to try and bag a spot on the top deck to take in the spectacular views as the ship passes the Cornish coastline and heads out into the Atlantic.

Wally and Sonny, the whippets, soon made themselves at home by indulging in one of their favourite pastimes, sleeping, while George and I took in the dramatic scenery and tried to name a few of the sea birds that wheeled overhead.

The boat trip takes a leisurely two and a half hours to travel the 28 miles, and when we arrived at the little quay in St Mary s harbour

it felt like we had journeyed back in time. It was bustling with life boats unloading their cargoes, fisherman mending nets and a distinct lack of cars and lorries. Our luggage was collected from the ship and wheeled up the quay to our hotel by a helpful porter.

We d plumped for the dog-friendly Tregarthens, which was built in 1849 and is situated a two-minute walk from the quay.

The hotel has the most gorgeous panoramic views of some of the other islands Tresco, Bryher, Samson and St Martin s. We had called ahead and the hotel had organised beds, bowls, food and toys for our lucky dogs. This was arranged through a local animal charity, who ask for a donation for the service.

There are more than 30 miles of nature trails and walks on St Mary s alone, so our dogs were never short of wonderful places to stretch their legs.

Our first walk took us along the cliff path from our hotel to the Garrison and Star Castle.

The walls of the castle take the shape of an eight-pointed star. Built in 1593, it is now a boutique hotel. From there we walked to the church in the historic Old Town.

The churchyard is the final resting place for the crews of the many ships that have been lost in the treacherous waters around the Isles, some dating back to the 12th century.

Every time you turn a corner there is another amazing view to enjoy, from rugged, gorse-covered cliff tops and hidden coves to white sandy beaches with impossibly blue waters.

Each of the islands has its own distinct character. We took a boat trip to explore Tresco, famed for its beautiful sub-tropical Abbey Garden. The diversity of plants there is incredible and the Valhalla Museum houses a collection of shipwrecked figureheads, some dating back to the 16th century.

For dinner we enjoyed a feast of fresh fish and locally caught crab at The New Inn (all the pubs and restaurants on the isles are dog friendly).

The evening voyage back to St Mary s was unforgettable we sat in the bow of the little wooden boat and watched the sun dip into the sea as the wide sky filled with a million stars.

Victoria Gray

The Scillonian III (01736 334220, islesofscilly-travel.co.uk) sails from Penzance harbour to St Mary s from March to November, up to seven days a week.

Prices start at 86 return. Prices for the Tregarthens Hotel (01720 422540, tregarthens-hotel.co.uk1) in St Mary s start at 120 per person per night for bed and breakfast.

The Best Dog-friendly <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday DestinationsS MAG

Trudie and Milton enjoy the quirky but welcoming charms of The Ship Inn

Rye, East Sussex

Built in 1592 and first used as a smugglers warehouse, The Ship Inn is a relaxed pub with an eclectic style and offers a great hangout for humans and hounds alike. Modern pop art and felt animal heads don the walls, and trinkets and treasures sit among battered leather sofas and industrial light fittings.

No one goes hungry there is an excellent menu with good vegetarian options and plenty of sausages to treat Milton, our whippet.

Sampling a few local ales, Harveys Sussex Best Bitter came out on top.

Top of the cocktails is Nettle Gimlet, which includes Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin.

Ten quirky bedrooms sit among the ancient timbers of The Ship Inn.

Each is unique but all come with en-suite bathrooms and feature wacky wallpapers, painted floors and well-chosen furnishings. Just watch out for those low beams!

After a wonderful cooked breakfast (and more sausage for Milton), we ventured out on to the cobbled streets. You can t help but be overwhelmed by this small town s incredible beauty.

Small Tudor houses with tiny doors, leaded windows and well-kept gardens line cobbled streets leading up to the Ypres Tower.

It s the surviving part of Rye Castle and the perfect spot for views.

If you like antiques, you ll find lots of shops full of wonderful treasures. Unlike many towns, Rye isn t littered with the usual corporate coffee houses and we stopped off at Fletchers House, a tea room dating back to 1932. Dogs can sit in the front section while you tuck into some delicious scones with all the trimmings.

If you love the great outdoors and long walks on the beach, Camber Sands is a must a vast expanse of gorgeous sand trimmed in dunes.

It s the perfect place to let your dog charge around and let off some steam. You ll meet plenty of other dogs and dog lovers, so don t expect it to be a quick visit.

In need of refreshment, we popped into The Standard Inn, a charming, dog-friendly pub with great fish and chips, finishing the evening in Olde Worlde Wines, a small candle-lit wine shop filled with locals laughing and dancing. Again, Milton was warmly welcomed.

Rye is so dog and person friendly, we ll definitely be back.

Trudie le Marie

Rooms at The Ship Inn (01797 222233, sawdays.co.uk2) start at 110 per night for a double room, including breakfast.

The Best Dog-friendly <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday DestinationsS MAG

Anna and Cleo enjoy the charming grounds at Woolley Grange

Woolley Grange, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

Woolley Grange, an impressive 17th-century stone manor house, is the perfect countryside retreat for you and your canine companion. It s instantly welcoming, with an outdoor pool to enjoy in the warmer months and cosy log fires to snuggle up to in winter.

Located on the outskirts of Bath, Woolley Grange has 25 bedrooms, ranging from standard dog-friendly doubles to family suites. Larger families should book the spacious Hayloft, with two bedrooms and a lounge area, sleeping up to two adults and five children.

When we arrived at our suite, our dog Cleo was given the VID (Very Important Dog) treatment with a welcome box just for her.

It contained a variety of tasty treats, tug toys, a doggie neckerchief, a portable water bowl and even a shampoo for mucky pups everything Cleo would need for her weekend away, and a very thoughtful touch.

The Woolley Grange staff are on hand with everything you need for your stay, including details on local walks. Set in rolling hills on the edge of the Cotswolds, you can walk straight out from the hotel along the picturesque country lanes.

We took a stroll into nearby Bradford-on-Avon, a beautiful historic town with pretty shops and cosy caf s. A visit to the local pet shop Fetch is a must, which stocks all the essentials for your four-legged friend plus quirky presents for pet-mad pals.

Take a scenic walk back alongside the canal that loops around the town.

Adjacent to the hotel s beautiful walled garden (home to a chicken and duck) is the spa, a sanctuary of tranquillity with a range of treatments that offer a guaranteed slice of R&R.

The heated indoor pool has a large window overlooking the garden and, unlike a lot of spas, the swimming pool is child-friendly. If you want time to unwind away from the kids, there s the Ofsted-registered Woolley Bears Den, where you can send the little ones to burn off some energy.

A baby-sitter can be organised for the children or your pooch while you head over to the restaurant for mouth-watering Chateaubriand steak served with home-grown vegetables from the kitchen garden. When the harvest is good, guests can buy Woolley Grange s fruit and vegetables the perfect reminder of your country weekend away with all the family.

Anna Woodham

Woolley Grange is part of Luxury Family Hotels (luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk3).

Book through PetsPyjamas Pet Concierge (020 3642 3164, petspyjamas.com/travel4) for this exclusive offer: two nights with breakfast and a two-course dinner on one night from 299 plus your dog stays free.

Pet beds and bowls will be provided, plus receive a free PetsPyjamas personalised pet travel treat box when you book through this service.

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References

  1. ^ tregarthens-hotel.co.uk (www.tregarthens-hotel.co.uk)
  2. ^ sawdays.co.uk (www.sawdays.co.uk)
  3. ^ luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk (www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk)
  4. ^ petspyjamas.com/travel (www.express.co.uk)