For most of my life I’ve lived in Gloucestershire and as a child, if we wanted to go to the seaside we would travel down the M5 to Weston-super-Mare. A day at the beach, donkey rides, ice creams and spending money for the pier amusements. Great fun! However, there is much more to do in Somerset. A few years ago we went there for our family holiday and if you are planning the same, here are some great ideas for dog friendly days out in Somerset.
Dog Friendly Days Out in Somerset
Somerset is bordered by Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Bristol in the south west of England. Somerset is a rural county with large flat expanses of land, such as the Somerset Levels. For the hillwalkers amongst you, there are the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park to explore.
Brean Down & Sands
Part of the Mendip Hills is Brean Down. Standing at 318 feet (97m) high, it protrudes 1.5 miles into the Bristol Channel and the view from the top (on a clear day) is amazing. It is a steep climb and we recommend that dogs are on leads (at least they can pull you up the hill). Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort. When you reach the top, head seaward to explore Brean Down Fort. The current buildings were built in the 1860s to defend the channel ports of Cardiff and Bristol. For a coastal walk map click here.
At the bottom of Brean Down is a car park and a dog friendly cafe – Cove Cafe. At this end of the beach, there is a slipway leading on to Brean Sands which is 7 miles long and stretches from Brean Down to Burnham-on-Sea, with plenty of places to access the beach. The beach is popular with walkers, dog owners and sports enthusiasts – a great place for a family game of cricket or football.
Brean Theme Park
This is a great place to visit for both big and small kids alike! Thankfully dogs are welcome in the park (but please tidy up after them!) making it easy for kids to enjoy over 40 attractions.
You can purchase wristbands to ride all day or tokens to pay as you go – it’s up to you. At the time of writing, you can use Tesco Clubcard Vouchers to go towards the cost of wristbands. More details are on the Tesco website.
For more details of Brean Theme park, click here
Shepton Mallet Prison
In 2013, the Ministry of Justice closed 7 prisons, including this one at Shepton Mallet. Thanks to Jailhouse Tours, you now have the opportunity to explore the Victorian jail wings, have guided or self-guided tours or try the Escape Room. Learn about the 400-year history of the jail; descend into the hidden 1610 cell; hear stories from ex-prison officers and learn how executions were carried out.
After your prison visit, head into Shepton Mallet for a wander around the shops. There is a great cafe there – The Cheeky Bean – which welcomes dogs. It also serves vegetarian and vegan food.
For more information about Shepton Mallet Prison, click here
There is much to explore around Dunster which is within Exmoor National Park. The village grew around Dunster Castle and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Sited on a wooded hill, there are panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and the Bristol Channel.
There are some wonderful walks through the grounds and gardens for you and your pooch; however, your dogs are not permitted in the castle itself. Try the River Garden walk and take a look at the working watermill or the circular parkland walk with Iron Age forts.
From Dunster village, there are some great walks, including the Dunster Hidden History Storywalk. No doubt after all that walking, you’ll want to sit down and have a cuppa. Try either Castle Coffee House or Tessa’s Tea Shop as they both welcome dogs.
A beautiful cathedral in the heart of Wells on the edge of the Mendip Hills. The first Gothic Cathedral to be built in England, Wells Cathedral is famed for its unique architecture. With its iconic West Front, featuring 300 medieval carvings, and 14th-century Scissor Arches, the Cathedral never fails to impress.
Dogs are welcome into the cathedral, although they are not permitted on any tour that goes above ground-level. Water bowls are available in the Cathedral and dog biscuits are on offer in the cafe.
For more information about Wells Cathedral, click here
Often used as a stop-off for Devon and Cornwall, the village of Cheddar is on the edge of the Mendip Hills. Such a waste – there is plenty to see and do here. There are some fantastic walks in the area of varying difficulty, and even the chance to try some geocaching too.
If you fancy a game of crazy golf, pop along to Cheddar Crazy Golf where dogs are welcome. A course in beautiful surroundings using stone from the Gorge and a water feature that flows from a stone grotto.
Not only is this village famous for its cheese but its caves too. Due to Covid Cheddar Gorge Cave are currently closed, however, Jacob’s Ladder and the Clifftop Walk are open.
Within the village there are some great pubs and cafes – give the Gardener’s Arms a try.
For more information about Cheddar village, click here
West Somerset Railway
The chance to see the beautiful Somerset countryside and coast as you travel by steam train. There are 10 stations along the route from Bishop’s Lydeard to Minehead including Doniford Halt, Watchet and Dunster. Take in the sights of the Quantock Hills, quiet farms and villages, views to South Wales, Dunster Castle and distant views of Exmoor.
Have a choice of single, return or Rover tickets – these allow you to get on and off the train all day. The West Somerset Railway website has a comprehensive guide of places to visit from each station.
For more information about West Somerset Railway, click here
Declared as England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Quantocks can be found to the south west of Bridgwater. With old ruins and walking trails through meadows, woodland this is surely a dog’s paradise. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area and views of the Bristol Channel, South Wales, Exmoor and the Mendip and Blackdown Hills.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in the Quantocks and wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Kahn while he lived there. Follow in his footsteps and explore Coleridge Way. If you finish in Nether Stowey, pop into The Old Cider House for a pint as dogs are welcome here.
For more information on the Quantock Hills, click here
The hill, known as Glastonbury Tor, has views of the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. Sat at the top of the Tor is St Michael’s Tower. Glastonbury Tor is considered to be one of the most spiritual places in the country and the Tor is mentioned in the myths of Avalon and King Arthur. Enjoy an easy walk from the centre of Glastonbury up to the Tor to enjoy those views.
Whilst in Glastonbury, pay a visit to the Glastonbury Abbey. Constructed in the 7th century as a monastery and said to be the burial place of King Arthur, the abbey is now in ruins but there is plenty to see. Visit the museum, explore the 36 acres of parklands or have a guided tour with a costumed guide.
Just north of Taunton is Hestercombe House and Gardens. In the 50 acres, enjoy three centuries of garden design – Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian. With lakes, temples, cascades, woodland walks and formal terraces to explore, Hestercombe is the ideal family day out with your dog. On-site is the Stables Cafe, where you can grab a bite to eat, or why not take your own picnic. There is usually a great programme of family friendly events including a Christmas market and food nights.
For more information about Hestercombe Gardens, click here
Dog Friendly Days Out in Somerset
So now that we’ve given you just a few ideas of dog friendly things to do in Somerset, you are going to need somewhere to stay.
There’s plenty of choice of dog friendly holidays in Somerset for you to choose from. Whether it’s a self catering cottage, hotel or holiday park you’re after, you can find details on our Somerset page