A dog-friendly guide to the New Forest  holiday cottages

A dog-friendly guide to the New Forest

Sarah P 19 June 2020

The New Forest is a popular destination for dog owners and with so many dog-friendly pubs, attractions, walks and miles of open space, it’s no wonder dogs love it. The question is, what do you do first? To help get you started, we have put together a guide to enjoying a dog-friendly holiday in the New Forest.

Three New Forest dog walks you will love

Walking is one of the most popular New Forest activities, with vast areas of enchanting woodland, spectacular heathland, and the banks of the River Beaulieu to explore, there are hundreds of miles of dog walk to discover. Here are some of our favourites:

Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard

  • Distance: 4-mile round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

You cannot beat a New Forest walk with a pub, where you can reward your efforts with a local pint while your canine snoozes in front of an open fire. This popular trail, which forms part of the Solent Way, meanders along the banks of the River Beaulieu, passing through pretty New Forest villages, grassland, woodland and salt marshes, offering an insight into the many sides of the New Forest.

Sea Air Trail, Lymington

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Salty paws and sandy hair are the key ingredients of this New Forest dog walk, and your canine is going be in his or her element. Start off at the Lymington Marina and follow the signs for the Solent Way. This coastal walk will take you from Lymington to Milford-on-Sea, passing through Keyhaven Nature Reserve, home to all kinds of fascinating birds. On a clear day, the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight can be pretty impressive!

Abbotswell to Fritham

  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Are you looking for a long dog walk that will tire out energetic pups? This full-day walk throws up lots to see along the way from its starting point at the Millenium Monument in Abbotswell to the bomb crater and tumulus along Hampton Ridge. The route passes through plenty of woodlands and heathlands, crisscrossed with a network of pretty streams where a four-legged friend will love cooling off.

The most dog-friendly pubs in the New Forest

What better way to end a walk in the New Forest than with a pub lunch where both you and your canine can relax? There are plenty of dog-friendly pubs in the New Forest that offer a friendly reception to dog walkers and their faithful friends.

The Drift Inn, Beaulieu

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Image caption: theladyandherscamp via Instragram

Sitting in the heart of the New Forest this friendly country pub welcomes ‘wellies, walking boots and dogs!’ With dog-friendly areas indoors and a big beer garden backed by rolling heathland, it is the perfect location to wind up after hours of exploring the New Forest National Park. Boasting a seasonal menu using local ingredients, you will be in for a culinary treat too.

Your dog will love: Being welcomed with bowls of fresh water, dog biscuits and towels for muddy paws.

The Trusty Servant, Minstead

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The whole team at the Trusty Servant love welcoming furry friends through the door, so you can expect a warm and friendly greeting when you stumble upon this gem. As you sip your pint in the beer garden, it wouldn’t be unusual to see ponies, donkeys, and cows ambling peacefully through the village. Located in the quintessential New Forest village of Minstead, just outside of Lyndhurst, this traditional pub is the perfect mid-walk rest point.

Your dog will love: A friendly welcome, tasty treats and a recommended walking trail to try after a bite to eat!

The New Forest Inn, Emery Down

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Image credit: @thenewforestinn via Instagram

This delightful 18th-century, family-run country pub welcomes canines throughout the bar, restaurant, and large beer garden so you can all dine together or grab a quiet drink mid-walk!  Complete with a fabulous, locally sourced menu and an excellent selection of wines, ales and cider, it’s worth adding the New Forest Inn to your hit list!

Your dog will love: Sniffing out the treats on the bar and the water bowls dotted around the pub.

Dog-friendly attractions that will welcome your canine

Amongst the wild and wonderful landscapes of the New Forest, you will also find a collection of fantastic attractions for families and couples alike to enjoy. Whether you’re a lover of beautiful gardens or have an interest in history, there’s plenty to see. We’ve picked some of our favourite dog-friendly attractions in the New Forest.

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway

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Image Credit: @exburygardens via Instagram 

Two hundred acres of stunning woodland walks, world-famous rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, exhibitions and a charming miniature steam railway await. Dogs are welcome in pretty much all areas of the attraction, from eating canine ice cream in Mr Eddy’s restaurant to taking a ride on the steam railway. The only request that the attraction makes is that ‘dogs are kept on a short lead and leave nothing behind but paw prints.’ 

Your dog will love: Visiting on Devoted to Dog Days where their owners can receive a discount for bringing their four-legged pal. 

New Forest Reptile Centre

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Image credit: @reginald_doodle via Instagram

A fabulous dog-friendly attraction that is suitable for all ages, New Forest Reptile Centre is home to a unique collection of snakes, frogs, toads, lizards and the adder, the only venomous snake living in Britain. A fun and educational day out, it’s a great attraction to visit with the whole family. With all the reptiles kept in enclosures that match their natural environment, you’re very likely to see a creepy crawly or two.

Your dog will love: Exploring the walking trail and picnicking in the grounds.

Hurst Castle

Once one of the most advanced artillery fortresses in England, there is a fascinating history to uncover at Hurst Castle – f. From visiting the first floor of the Tudor keep where Charles I was probably imprisoned in 1648 to catching glimpses of the soldier’s living conditions during the First and Second World Wars. Completely dog-friendly in all areas, well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome to explore the whole castle and its grounds with you.

Your dog will love: Arriving on the ferry from Keyhaven on which dogs ride for free!

Dog-friendly activities that your dog can take part in

Canoeing with New Forest Activities

An activity you might not think of straight away to do on a dog-friendly holiday, but why not give it a go if you think your canine is brave enough? New Forest Activities are happy to welcome canines on their guided canoe tour, where they can sit back and relax, and you can do all the hard work. You could even book their ‘paddle to the pub’ experience, where you’ll stop off at the dog-friendly The Master Builder’s pub.

Cycling with Cycle Experience Brockenhurst

Do you want to explore even more of the New Forest footpaths at a faster pace than just walking, but don’t want to leave your canine behind? Hire a dog trailer from Cyclex Experience Brockenhurst, and you won’t have to! Your canine can kick back and take in the scenery while you do all the hard work. Pack a picnic and pull up somewhere for your canine to stretch their legs and you to refuel.

River Cruise on the River Beaulieu 

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Image credit: @bugsy_and_pickle via Instagram

Take a peaceful cruise down the Beaulieu River and soak up the unspoiled scenery, doused in a rich history and fascinating wildlife. A wonderful way to explore the privately-owned river, the 30-minute boat trip sets off from the jetty at the bottom of Bucker's Hard high street, at various times, daily from April - September.

Destinations not to miss on your dog-friendly holiday in the New Forest

Moors Valley Country Park

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Image credit: @the_little_lunatic via Instagram

This beautiful country park is a haven for families with plenty of New Forest activities for every single member including Go Ape, Battlefield LIVE, golf and adventure play parks. You can also hire bikes and explore the woodland or settle down for a quiet couple of hours of fishing. With miles of footpaths and trails to explore, your canine is going to love a day of family adventures, and with any luck, they will sleep well afterwards!

Check out Moors’ Valley dog guide to check specific areas where your dog may be welcome on a lead, or allowed to run free.

Lepe Country Park

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Image credit: @prjenadventures via Instagram

 Another fantastic spot to keep the whole family entertained – including your canine. Located on the edge of the New Forest with views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight the country park offers plenty of beautiful dog walks.  There is even a café for you to stop by for some lunch or a morning coffee. The Lookout provides a local, seasonal menu and beautiful coastal outlook but most importantly, it’s also dog friendly!

Hengistbury Head

This dog-friendly beach near the New Forest offers beautiful scenery and rewarding walks so that you combine the magic of the forest with the fresh sea air. Dogs are welcome on the beach all year round so you can enjoy the heat of the summer and the peace and quiet of the winter season.

Dogstival, Burley Park

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Image credit: @thelazyhounds via Instagram


Last but definitely not least, how does a whole festival dedicated to dogs sound? Dogstival is a two-day festival for dogs and dog lovers set in Burley Park, offering a schedule that really will get tails wagging. With everything from world-class dog displays and K9 aqua sports to relaxing in the ‘happy dog den’ and sniffing out the very best stallholders and food and drink retailers, it’ll be an experience neither you nor your canine will forget in a hurry!

Stay in a dog-friendly cottage in the New Forest

The Old Telephone Exchange, Beaulieu

Tucked away in a peaceful location on the Beaulieu Estate, this romantic getaway looks out over a beautiful lake – perfect for couples and their faithful canine to escape. With dog-friendly Buckler’s Hard a short walk away and plenty of walking routes on your doorstep, there will be lots of opportunities for the three of you to get out and explore together.

  • Best for: couples
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Dog-friendly: 1 pup welcome

Beaulieu House Annexe, Beaulieu


Set alongside the river in the heart of the Beaulieu Estate, this charming cottage is packed with character and offers a warm welcome into the New Forest. With the delights of the estate on your doorstep, an abundance of walks surrounding the property and Buckler’s Hard a short stroll away, you will be based in a desirable location for exploring the national park.

  • Best for: small families or couples
  • Sleeps: 4
  • Dog-friendly: 2 pups welcome


The Old Bakehouse, Sway

This former village bakehouse is perfect for dog lovers, welcoming up to four canines it means families with lots of four-legged friends, or groups of separate families can come together without leaving anyone behind. Complete with an enclosed garden, hot tub, a BBQ and close to many New Forest dog walks, what more could you and your canine need?

  • Best for: families and their pack
  • Sleeps: 8
  • Dog-friendly: 4 pups welcome


Book a dog-friendly cottage in the New Forest

Ready to pack up your canine companion and head for the New Forest? Our dog-friendly cottage collection provides a variety of places to stay in the New Forest to suit all kinds of holidays. Whether you’re planning a family-friendly getaway or a romantic escape, you’d like to be on the New Forest coast or by the water, choose one of our dog-friendly cottages in the New Forest to start your next adventure with your beloved canine.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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