The best towns and villages to visit in the Lake District with your dog

It’s often the trails that criss-cross the undulating fells in the Lake District that get all the attention from visitors. There are, undoubtedly, some spectacular hill climbs to be enjoyed in this scenic national park. But when you’re done with all that walking, somewhere to mooch in shops or grab a bite to eat is essential, and that’s why you need to know about these lovely Lake District towns and villages.

Written by Lottie Gross

Pooley Bridge

This tiny town on the north end of Ullswater is a delightful gateway to the eastern edge of the Lake District. From here, you can tackle the Ullswater Way, explore the lake by hopping on one of the dog-friendly Ullswater Steamers, or simply mooch around town where there are plenty of dog-friendly pubs and cafés. We love Granny Dowbekins Tearooms, where enormous bowls of homemade desserts are the highlight of the menu. 

For an easy walk, head up to the heights of Dunmallard Hill or follow the river path northwards for a there-and-back wander.

Paws & Stay
Photo Credit: Pencil Museum


For several years running, Keswick was named the most dog-friendly town in the UK between 2012 and 2015, and it's still a cracking little town for anyone with a dog today. Come here to cruise on Derwentwater with the Keswick Launch Co, have a rain-friendly day out at kid-centric Puzzling Place, or visit the surprisingly compelling Pencil Museum

Walks-wise, there's plenty of options here from the Upper and Lower Fitz Parks with their manicured lawns and riverside trails, to Crow Park with views of Derwentwater where the dog can run around off lead when the local sheep aren't grazing the pasture. Longer walks can be had up Latrigg or the steep summit of Catbells. Tired feet and hungry hikers can get fed at The Dog and Gun, which has a menu especially for canine adventurers.

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Photo Credit: Stuart Holmes, Keswick Launches


On the shores of Windermere Lake, Bowness is a thriving little town in the southeast of the Lake District National Park. Its main street is littered with lovely little gift shops, high street stores and charity shops packed with bargains, as well as the odd dog-friendly pub (The Albert is lovely). It's on the shores of the lake where all the fun begins, though, as the marina is where you can hop on the Windermere Lake Cruises boat trips, which connect you with other lovely towns and villages such as Ambleside and Lakeside, where you can also join the steam railway for a trundle through the hills on tracks.

There are loads of excellent walks from Bowness, but one of the best is up to the peak of Brant Fell (there are stiles so this is best for agile or small dogs only). For a quick runabout with the ball, Glebe park is the place to go.

Paws & Stay
Photo Credit: Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway


At the northern end of Windermere, this little market town was established in the mid 1800s and has retained much of its handsome Victorian architecture. There's even older history, though, at the town's former Roman fort. Dogs are welcome to join you to explore the ruined fort, which dates back to AD 117, and then you can take them for a good stroll around Borrans Park right on the lake's edge (they can swim from here, too) before a drink or lunch at the dog-friendly Wateredge Inn

Further into town, Rothay Park makes for a great place to let the dog off for a run with a ball or frisbee, and if you fancy yourself a golder, White Platts Miniature Golf is dog friendly. There are ample walks from Ambleside, the closest of which is to Stock Ghyll Force, a 21-metre-high waterfall just east of town. For something a little more challenging, try this three-hour circular route up to Wansfell peak at 487 metres.

Paws & Stay
Photo Credit: English Heritage
Photo Credit: Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway


Right on the western edge of the Lake District on the Cumbrian coastline, Ravenglass is a charming little village with a main street right on the seaside. This offers a very different view on the Lakes: one where an endless ocean crashes on the shoreline and wind rolls off the Atlantic to whistle through the fells inland. The highlight here is the Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway, which takes you through the foothills of the fells. Just outside the village, don't miss a visit to the Roman Bath House

Of course, being on the coast there are plenty of excellent beaches to explore, too. Ravenglass has its own dog-friendly beach, right on the shore where the Mite, Irt and Esk Rivers empty into the sea, and nearby is Drigg Sand Dunes and Beach, which stretches northwards along the coast for miles.

Written by Lottie Gross

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