Devon's Top 10 Dog-Friendly Pub Walks
Devon's reputation as a dog-friendly destination extends far beyond its bountiful beaches, wonderful walking trails and massive moors – the hospitality of the people is legendary, and many public-facing business owners across the county welcome humans and their hounds into their establishments, whether they're serving cream teas or selling surfboards and souvenirs.
Nowhere though is it more common to see people and their pooches enjoying the famous fare of the Southwest at its very best than in the warm comfort of a public bar at a friendly village pub. Here, hounds can sleep off epic coastal walks in front of open fires or in expansive beer gardens under the summer sun, as their owners sip pints of locally brewed ale and cider, and chat to locals about where they can go exploring next. Almost all pubs have bowls of water at the ready for thirsty dogs, and it's not unusual for bar staff to have a secret stash of doggie treats tucked within easy access behind the counter. Most pubs allow children too, although they usually stipulate that the kids leave by about 9pm – dogs, however, are typically welcome until closing time.
Like their two-legged friends, discerning dogs will have their own preferences about what makes a good drinking hole, but here's our selection of 10 of the best dog-friendly pubs in Devon, chosen according to their proximity to great walks. The following are all excellent places to start, finish or punctuate a hike with your best friend.
1. Torcross to the Pig’s Nose Inn
The wonderful Pig's Nose Inn is perfectly positioned for dog walkers who like to earn a thirst before hitting the bar. There are plenty of short strolls around the Kingsbridge Estuary and along Slapton Sands, but to really stretch your legs, start in Torcross, go around Prawle Point, and follow the South West Coast Path west to Salcombe before tracing the estuary up to Kingsbridge for a real ale in a pub that is so Fido-friendly that the kitchen actually has a menu of meals for specifically for dogs.
The Pigs Nose Inn, 01548 511209.
2. The Heddon Valley: Hunter’s Inn to Woody Bay
Moor means more here in Heddon Valley, when you have a Edwardian coaching inn in the midst of the wonderful wilderness of Exmoor National Park – from where dog-walkers can take advantage of a plethora of paths through the woods and along the coast, before coming back to enjoy the hospitality of a bar that serves (exclusive to the Hunters) Heddon Valley Ales. We recommend following the beautiful banks of the River Heddon through the valley to the sea, and then shadowing the stunning coastline east to Woody Bay – a route that was recently voted the best dog-walk in the West by walkers of the South West Coast Path. The pub has won awards too – it was declared a winner for its hound hospitality by Your Dog magazine last year.
Hunters Inn, 01598 763230
3. The Kings Arms, Georgeham, to Baggy Point
The Kings Arms in Georgeham is the very image of an English country pub, in the midst of an iconic country village. It's not just about looks though, the Kings Arms occupies a strategically sensational spot for dog walkers. Use this as a car parking base to go and explore brilliant Baggy Point – a 3-mile meander along a section of the South West Coast Path, with great sea views and lots of historical points of interest, including an old 'wreck post'. Come back to a lovely welcoming open fire, doggy treats behind the bar, water bowls at foot level and good beers on tap higher up.
The Kings Arms, 01271 890240
4. Hillsborough Headland, Ilfracombe
Before settling yourself into the welcoming arms of this, the oldest pub in Ilfracombe, stretch your legs with a walk around the Hillsborough Headland that's playfully known as the Elephant by locals. There are myriad trails to follow across the hilltops, and you can wend your way back via some classic coastal coves and across dog-friendly beaches such as Larkstone before quenching a well-deserved thirst in this hound-welcoming historic pub, which dates back to 1360, and still looks the part, in an atmospheric, bang-your-head-on-the-oak-rafters, kind of way.
George & Dragon, 01271 863851
5. Mortehoe to Rockham Bay
Sitting in sweet spot between two of the region's best dog beaches, Rockham Beach and Woolacombe Sands, the pretty hamlet of Mortehoe has a couple of great pubs that welcome the many dog owners who come here to enjoy the fantastic walks the area offers. The beer garden at the front of the Ship Aground is essentially the trailhead for a particularly picturesque path that leads humans and hounds through countryside to wonderfully wild Rockham Beach. Also from here, there's a magical 6-mile walk out to Morte Point, where you get a dramatic vista over the waves and rocks that have ruined many a sailor's day over the years. For a far happier ending, settle into this dog friendly pub for a post-walk pint and to soak up the atmosphere.
The Ship Aground, 01271 870856
6. The Royal Oak, Malborough, Kingsbridge, and back
Set in the gorgeous South Hams village of Malborough near Kingsbridge, the Royal Oak is super close to South Devon's fabulous beaches and dog-walking areas around Hope Cove and Salcombe. An incredible 5-mile circular walk can be done from this pub, taking you and your four-legged friend through the thatched village of Outer Hope, along the sandy beach at Hope Cove and around the high headland of Bolt Tail, before depositing you both back here into a beautiful beer garden, which welcomes canines.
The Royal Oak, 01548 561481
7. Walks from Croyde
The Thatch in Croyde always seems to hum with conversation between contented drinkers and eaters, many of whom have happy hounds sprawled at their feet. Quality food is the signature of this pub, but to appreciate a good feed you have to work up a decent appetite. Lucky, then, that Croyde sits in between several of the region's best dog-walking areas. Take your pick from a long beach run through the surf and across Putsborough Sands followed by a return amble through the dunes, or an exploration of Baggy Point's stunning and storied trails, or even a stroll over to Braunton Burrows.
8. East and West from Beer on the SW Coast Path
Located on the high street of a ridiculously gorgeous fishing village on East Devon's Jurassic Coast, it's almost impossible to pass by the Dolphin without having a pint (if only so you can say you're having a beer in Beer). The reason you might be passing though in the first place is that Beer is on a particularly peachy part of the South West Coast Path, with heavenly headland walks stretching east (to Seaton and Lyme Regis) and west (towards Branscombe and Sidmouth). Whether you're planning a hike with a halftime pint, or looking for somewhere to finish your wander, this is a great dog-friendly option.
The Dolphin, 01297 20068
9. Woolacombe to Morte Point and back
Less quaint country pub and more Australian-style surfshack beach bar, the Red Barn nevertheless offers dog owners a great place to down pints of ice-cold amber nectar while drinking in the salty atmosphere of one of Britain's best surf spots. Walkers are equally as welcome as surfers, though, and this place in the centre of Woolacombe Bay offers an excellent start/finish point for a classy cliff-top trek out to Morte Point, hugging the headland all the way, with the option of meandering back through Mortehoe.
The Red Barn, 01271 870264
10. Branscombe to Beer
Hounds and humans can happily hike around the Hooken Undercliff from Branscombe to Beer and back from the excellent Mason’s Arms, prior to getting their legs under the table here, or there are hundreds of trails to take through the surrounding hills if you fancy exploring the cute coppices that circle this picturesque pub and village. A 10-minute stroll from one of East Devon's finest beaches, and a dog-walker's heaven, surrounded as it is by hills and meadows, the Masons is also an excellent and ancient watering hole, serving restaurant quality food and extending its hospitality to dogs and humans alike.
Mason’s Arms, 01297 680300