Cornwall and Devon’s best dog-friendly beaches to get tails wagging

The southwest's wild coastline and breathtakingly beautiful beaches are heaven on earth for dogs (and their owners). But because some of the most popular beaches in Cornwall and Devon are off-limits to dogs, usually between 10am and 6pm in the summer, we’ve done a little snuffling around to find beaches that welcome dogs all-day, all-year. It’s a great excuse to get off the beaten track and away from the more crowded beaches: discover hidden crescent coves beneath lofty cliffs, and sweeping bays down winding coastal paths.

Written by Carmen McCormack

Watergate Bay, Newquay

Near Newquay, capital of the county’s surf scene, Watergate Bay’s two-mile sweep of golden sand and white-horse surf is popular with families, surfers and anyone who likes being knocked around a bit by waves. Best of all, the huge open bay welcomes dogs year-round so they can dip their paws in the sea, explore rock pools and race about to their heart's content. Finish up at the laid back, dog-friendly Beach Hut café, part of Watergate Bay Hotel.

Gwynver Beach, near Penzance

Gwynver is a stunning white silky-sand beach just north of Sennen Cove. The steep path down through the sand dunes is not for the faint-hearted but the effort is completely worth it: pitch up to find a quiet and secluded bay, vast granite cliffs towering above, and some pretty epic waves to leap in and out of, and bark at. At low-tide you can walk around to the equally lovely Sennen beach, but be aware that it has a seasonal dog ban.

North Sands Beach, Salcombe

In the gentle South Hams AONB, North Sands is an easy stroll from Salcombe. It’s a delightful stretch of sand beneath a lush green hillside overlooking Kingsbridge Estuary. At low tide, four-legged types can enjoy racing along the beach and splashing about in the clear, shallow waters. Afterwards, meander back to Salcombe for lunch in any of the dog-friendly cafés and restaurants –- we like the Crab Shed.

Harbour Cove Beach, near Padstow

Harbour Cove is a huge crescent of golden sand and a vast flat beach at low-tide –- perfect for dogs to zoom around and tire themselves out. Overlooking the Camel Estuary river valley and sheltered by grassy sand dunes it’s a super picnicking spot and you can sit back and watch boats sail past on the horizon. Although it’s very close to Padstow, it’s a bit of a trek from the car park, which means you won’t be fighting for space.

Gara Rock, East Portlemouth

Gara Rock is a glorious beach, scattered with rocks and with an expansive stretch of sand in the middle. It’s perfect for energetic dogs to scamper around and there are plenty of wave frolicking opportunities if your pet likes to dip their paws in. Mid-way between Prawle Point and the mouth of the Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary, you take the coast path down to the sand where you can have hours of fun letting your dog nose about in hidden tunnels and secret caves.

Sugary Cove, Dartmouth

The delightfully named Sugary Cove is a remote shingle and rock beach at the mouth of the River Dart, overlooked by Dartmouth castle. Take the coast path from the castle (the tea rooms welcome furry, four-legged types) and keep your eyes peeled, there are no signs and it's hidden by trees until you’re right above it. It’s worth the adventure though and you often won’t see another soul. Remember to check the tide times because the beach disappears at high tide.

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Written by Carmen McCormack

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