Dog-friendly walks around Sussex vineyards

There's only one thing that can make a romp across the South Downs even better, and that's if there's a glass of locally grown sparkling wine waiting for you at the end. From the stunning white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, the wooded playground of the Ashdown Forest to the rolling hills and valleys of the South Downs, Sussex is perfect for a dog-friendly holiday. In recent years, the counties of East and West Sussex have drawn herds of thirsty wine enthusiasts thanks to the raging success of its home-grown fizz. Lying around 90 miles from France's Champagne region, the chalk-rich soil and maritime climate – both the secret to good fizz – means this corner of England could be the new Épernay. In West Sussex, the South Downs is covered with thousands of acres of ribbed-green vineyards, many within a stone’s throw from the sea. While the vineyards of East Sussex are peppered with villages of pink thatched cottages and Norman churches, often rolling down to the beach. And both are blessed with some excellent walks, dog-friendly cottages, and wine tasting experiences. Take a look at some of our favourite vineyards to visit with your dog.

Written by Tracey Davies

5 minute read

Rathfinny Estate, Alfriston

One of the finest dog-walking trails in the whole of East Sussex can be found in Friston Forest, near Alfriston. After sniffing every leaf in the beechwood forest, scamper up the hundred or so wooden steps and over the wooden stile for sweeping views over Cuckmere Haven, where the River Cuckmere meanders down to the sea. Nearby is the Rathfinny Estate, where dogs can ramble around the Rathfinny Trail. Pick up a map from the Cellar Door shop and explore the three-mile route which winds around the vines of the 600-acre estate. At the end, reward yourselves with a glass of Rathfinny's award-winning Sussex sparkling and a dog biscuit at their alfresco wine bar, The Hut.

Charles Palmer Vineyard, Winchelsea

Head a little further west to Winchelsea on the East Sussex/Kent border. Famed for its medieval wine cellars and Spike Milligan's grave whose headstone famously says 'I told you I was ill', this charming little Cinque Port town is a good base for a dog-friendly weekend. On the outskirts of Winchelsea on the Wickham Manor Estate is the Charles Palmer Vineyard, a small-batch winery with just 35 acres of vines. Close to the sea, it's perfect for combining a beach walk with a wine tasting. After a wander along the vineyard trail, which has spectacular views over the Brede Valley, settle down with the hound under the pergola and sample the estate's excellent cuvée and rosé wines.

Wiston Estate, Pulborough

Just off the South Downs Way, the Chanctonbury Ring is an Iron Age hill fort with sensational views over Sussex. One of the best walks is the Three Vineyards Trail, a three-mile walk near Findon, which passes through the original vineyard of the Wiston Estate. While dogs can’t join you on the winery tours, they are welcome to enjoy walks around the estate’s public footpath and can join you for a tipple and a treat outside at Chalk, their exceptionally good fine dining restaurant.

Bolney Estate, Haywards Heath

If you prefer a bold red to a glass of fizz, bolt over to the Bolney Estate near Haywards Heath, one of the first vineyards in Sussex. It's renowned for its award-winning Pinot Noir and offers various winery tours and tasting experiences. “On a warm summer's day, sat amongst the vines with a glass of wine and you could easily be in Bordeaux,” says Sam Linter, the estate's winemaker. Dogs may not be able to come on a tour or a tasting with you, but wellbehaved dogs on leads are very welcome in Eighteen Acre Café. Nearby is Nymans, a beautiful National Trust garden which has a dog-friendly walking trail through the woods.

Stay nearby at The Treehouse at Beneath the Branches >

Albourne Estate, Hassocks

Over in West Sussex, there's a lovely walk around the Albourne Estate, a boutique winery which has been wowing Sussex wine aficionados with its excellent White Pinot Noir and Sandstone Ridge, both of which pair perfectly with, ahem, sausages. There's a public footpath which winds around Albourne's vineyards making a good four-mile walk. While dogs are not allowed in the actual winery, tasting rooms and shop, very good four-legged types are welcome to join their owners for a gourmet picnic amongst the vines.

Stay nearby at The Dairy at Streat Place Barn >

Kinsbrook Vineyard, Thakeham

Starting off at Kinsbrook Farmhouse, there's a brilliant six-mile walk through the fields and pastel-coloured cottages of Thakeham and West Chiltington. Part of Kinsbrook Vineyard, a modern, sustainable winery with a farm shop and restaurant, offers a range tours and tastings of its excellent young wines. While dogs are not allowed in the farm shop – especially when there are sausages at snaffling height – they are welcome to join you for lunch or dinner in the Eatery or a wander around the vineyard.

Tinwood Estate, Halnaker

Perched on the edge of the South Downs near the Goodwood Estate, the Tinwood Estate is a family-owned small-batch winery which produces some excellent (and award-winning) sparkling wines. Friendly and welcoming, well-behaved dogs on leads are allowed on the tours and in the tasting room. From April until September, the estate offers afternoon tea, tour and tasting every Wednesday afternoon.

The Bluebell Vineyard, Uckfield

One of the nicest walks to take your dog is through the Bluebell Vineyard. Four-legged visitors and their humans can take one of three self-guided trails and enjoy views of the vines, woodlands and ponds. Spring is the prettiest time to visit, as the name suggests, the trails are lined with a carpet of bluebells from April to late May. After a snuffle through the woods, swing by the cellar door and try a glass of the estate's excellent Hindleap Blanc de Blancs, where good dogs are allowed to sit at the outside tables.

Browse all of our dog-friendly places to stay in Sussex >

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Written by Tracey Davies

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