The Lake District National Park is the largest national park in the UK and the first to be awarded with world heritage status. A natural landscape of 885 square miles, the scenery comprises of stunning mountains, deep valleys and scenic lakes. The abundance of dog friendly campsites in the Lake District make it a fantastic destination for dog owners and their four-legged friends.
The endless miles of walking trails and pooch-welcoming pubs, restaurants and cafes, ensure that your dog will love a holiday in the Lakes as much as you undoubtedly will.
Staying at a campsite in the Lake District has many advantages for you and your dog. Not only is camping a great way to connect with nature, but the facilities are often better suited to dogs than hotels and other forms of accommodation.
Camping and touring are the most cost-effective options of course, but there is also a wide variety of more luxurious glamping accommodation including hobbit houses and pods.
Why visit the Lake District?
Most visitors come to the Lakes to immerse themselves in nature and glorious views abound wherever you look. The landscape is made up of picturesque lakes, pristine forests and spectacular mountains, locally known as fells.
Along the coast, there are dog friendly beaches, where you can walk for miles often without seeing another soul.
Although the Lake District is known primarily for its natural beauty, it also has a significant number of historical buildings including some of the Britain’s most impressive castles and stately homes.
Artists and famous writers have always found inspiration in the Lake District, among them Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and native William Wordsworth who was born in Penrith. Whatever your interests, there is plenty to enjoy in this beautiful part of the world.
Planning your visit
The Lakes are a great destination at any time of the year, each season bestowing its own distinctive gifts. One thing’s for certain – whenever you decide to visit, there will be much to enjoy and appreciate.
Winter brings shorter days, but conditions can be crisp, bright and ideal for hiking. Snow-covered mountains and a lack of crowds are also an incentive to visit during the winter months.
In spring, daffodils and bluebells cover much of the landscape, adding to the spectacle. It’s also an ideal time to catch sight of the many different varieties of wildlife in the area.
Extended, warm summer days are perfect for long walks. Festivals and events are in full-swing and you can’t beat sitting outside one of the many dog-friendly pubs with a pint in hand, soaking up the sun and glorious scenery.
In autumn, the red, orange and yellow tones of the leaves are breath-taking and blackberries are ready for picking. The autumnal light, combined with the dramatic colours of the foliage, creates a technicolour wonderland.
The national park is approximately five hours by car from London. Trains arrive at Oxenholme and Penrith and a direct train can be caught from Manchester to Windermere. It isn’t essential to have a car as towns and tourist attractions are well-connected within the area (and dogs are allowed on buses and lake cruises).
Windermere and Ambleside are the two major towns and both make good bases from which to explore as they provide excellent access to many of the main sights.
To the east, Kendal is perfect for jaunts to Ullswater and the lovely Eden Valley. The more northerly Keswick was voted the UK’s most dog friendly town by the Kennel Club in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It is well situated for the northern lakes and valleys.
The tiny hamlet of Wasdale in the west is nestled amongst some of England’s tallest mountains including Scafell Pike and is a popular base for rock-climbing, mountaineering and hiking.
Dog friendly campsites
Whether you are into camping, glamping or touring, many sites will welcome your dogs (though some limit you to two).
All of the following campsites will be happy to see you and your furry friend. Each of them have dog-walking areas, either within the campsite or adjacent to it. Always remember to control your dog and scoop the poop!
Park Cliffe Camping and Caravan Estate, Windermere
This campsite overlooks Lake Windermere, with views of the mountains beyond. Dogs are allowed on the touring and camping pitches, but not in the camping pods. There is a dog walking area on site and a 30-45 minute uphill walk behind the campsite. Dogs must be to be kept on leads.
Overlooking the town of Keswick, with views of the mountains, this site welcomes a maximum of two well-behaved dogs per group if kept on a lead. There is a small exercise area where supervised dogs can be let off the lead. The site can accommodate caravans, motorhomes and tents.
Alternatively there are dog friendly camping pods and static caravans to suit everyone.
The Quiet Site, Ullswater
The entire spectrum of camping accommodation is offered here and pooches are welcome in all of them including the hobbit holes! There is a wild flower meadow for dogs to wander off the lead. The campsite is set amongst the fells overlooking Ullswater Lake.
Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Ambleside
This is a great site for those who are touring in motorhomes or caravans. Although the site is dog friendly, dogs aren’t permitted in the holiday homes and hideaways. There is plenty of space for dog-walking including a playing field and woodland area. The site is situated in a peaceful and scenic area.
When walking in the fells or woodlands, the usual etiquette applies. Many of the trails cross private land and farms, so it is important to keep your dog on a lead around livestock. Sheep can potentially become distressed if dogs approach too closely and cows can charge, especially if they have young.
It is also possible that you may come across wildlife such as deer, badgers and squirrels so it’s important not to let your dog get into a tussle with them. Wherever you are, waste bags should be used and disposed of in the bins provided.
Pooch friendly pubs
Black Bull Inn, Coniston – You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dog friendly pubs in Coniston. The Black Bull Inn is 400 years old and a former coaching inn. Overlooked by the ‘Old Man’ mountain, the pubs brew their own real ales and have won an award for their Bluebird Bitter. The menu is varied and offers a couple of vegetarian options.
The Drunken Duck, Ambleside – The views are breath-taking from this stylish pub, located on a hill and overlooking Ambleside and the surrounding countryside. The pub brews its own beer and the menu is sophisticated and original.For chilly winter days, there is a welcoming log fire for you and your dog to warm yourselves by.
Royal Oak, Keswick – Situated on Keswick’s Main Street, dogs are welcomed at this 18th century pub with a thirst-quenching bowl of water. Serving tasty pub grub and tempting desserts for their owners, it’s a good option if you are in the Keswick area.
Woolpack Inn, Eskdale – The Hardknott Bar & Café at the Woolpack Inn has an interesting menu of burgers, steaks, pizzas and tapas with a twist. Regular art exhibitions displaying work created by local artists and a beer garden are also excellent reasons to pay a visit. The pub is located at the top of a valley.
Activities for you and your dog
There are a wealth of activities for you and your pooch to enjoy in and around the Lakes from challenging hikes to leisurely visits to one of the many historical sites.
The following are all pet friendly places where your dog is likely to be welcomed with a refreshing bowl of water and perhaps even a treat or two!
Penrith and surrounding area
Brougham Castle, Penrith – The 13th century castle is situated next to the River Eamont. The lovely grounds are perfect for a picnic. The castle is fascinating to explore and there are panoramic views of Eden Valley from the tower.
Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith – This historic house is architecturally impressive and the walled gardens are beautiful. At the rear of the house are woodlands where you and your dog can take a stroll. A tea shop provides sustenance in the form of cakes and coffee.
Lowther Castle and Gardens, Penrith – In 1957, most of this castle was demolished and the façade is the only section which is still standing. It’s a magnificent sight and the surrounding grounds are vast and lovingly manicured.
Carlisle Castle, Carlisle – This well-preserved medieval castle has been the scene of many sieges and historical events. There is a military museum on the grounds.
Kirklinton Hall and Gardens, Carlisle – These 17th century ruins are situated on 14 acres of tranquil gardens and you can take tea and scones on the lawns.
Lanercost Priory, Carlisle – The priory was attacked frequently in the Anglo-Scottish Wars and makes a perfect stop en route to nearby Hadrian’s Wall. There is a café which serves light meals and refreshments.
Ullswater Steamers – A small charge allows you to take dogs onboard. These boats cruise Ullswater Lake and connect walkers with some of the most popular trails in the Lake District.
Furness Abbey, Barrow-in-Furness - The abbey was founded by Stephen, who later became king of England. The chapter house and cloister buildings are ornately decorated and several treasures have been excavated from the grounds.
Drigg Beach, Barrow-in-Furness – This remote beach is surrounded by sweeping sand dunes, has views of the mountains inland and is home to a seabird breeding colony. It’s possible to walk for miles in complete solitude.
Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Ulverston – A 19th century bobbin mill which provided bobbins for the Lancashire weaving and spinning industry. A museum catalogues the history of the mill.
Holker Hall and Gardens, near Grange over Sands – Home of the Cavendish family and one of the most famous stately homes in the country, this magnificent building dates back to the 16th century. The 25 acres of grounds are immaculately kept and home to an array of unusual species of plants.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway – It is free to take dogs on these steam trains which take in the splendid views of Leven Valley and the rivers of the south.
Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead - Woodland in the heart of the Lake District, situated between lakes Windermere and Coniston. What makes this forest unique is the sculptures that can be seen along the network of trails. It’s a lovely area for a stroll and there is a dog friendly café to grab some refreshments after your walk.
Windermere Lake Cruises – Dogs can be taken free of charge on the cruises which explore the largest natural lake in England.
Coniston Launch and National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola - Dogs are allowed on the outer decks of the Victorian powered steam yachts only. The Gondolas stop at Brantwood, the former home of author, John Ruskin. Dogs are allowed on the grounds if kept on a lead.
Keswick Launch, Derwentwater – Well behaved dogs are welcome free of charge on the boats which cruise Derwentwater. There are eight disembarkation points from where you can enjoy lakeside walks.
The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden, Derwentwater – Beatrix Potter stayed in Lingholm and the original kitchen garden was the inspiration for Tale of Peter Rabbit. Dogs on leads are allowed and it’s a great spot for a bite to eat. Lunch and afternoon tea are served and the food is locally sourced. The café and shop overlook the walled octagonal Victorian gardens.
Lakeland Motor Museum, near Keswick – An impressive 30,000 exhibits along with 140 classic cars and motorbikes makes this a popular tourist attraction. Dogs are allowed in all areas except the café.
Ravenglass and area
Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Hawk and Owl Centre, Ravenglass – The castle is set in 70 acres of woodland and gardens. It has been owned by the Pennington family since 1208. There are frequent events held on the grounds and it would be easy to spend the best part of the day exploring and soaking up the atmosphere. There are frequent displays held at The Hawk and Owl Centre.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – Pulling together 7 miles of spectacular scenery and 7 request stops, a trip on these trains is a perfect way to take in the countryside. Dogs are welcome onboard, but aren’t permitted inside the station cafes. There are water bowls outside the cafes, which is a nice touch.
Why the Lake District is perfectly suited to a holiday with your dog
The Lake District National Park is one of the most dog friendly destinations in the UK. The wide open spaces and incredible scenery make it perfect for exploring with your faithful companion and, because the region is so popular amongst dog owners, local businesses are accustomed to catering for dogs.
If you haven’t visited the Lake District before, taking your dog with you to explore one of the most beautiful areas of England will no doubt be a revelation.
You'll be planning a return trip before you know it!