Dog Friendly Guide to the New Forest

From Cornwall to Cumbria, and Suffolk to Scotland, and beyond, the UK abounds with  stunning and very dog friendly locations. To help you sort the good from the average, and the dog-loving from the dog-tolerant, we are bringing you a dog friendly guide to our favourite destinations every month, kicking off the the New Forest! Here you will find our pick of the best dog friendly places to stay, eat and drink, walk, as well as must-visit highlights. Do you have some much-loved places to add to the list? Share with us in the comments below!

Known for its heathland, natural wildlife, woodland trails and native ponies, the New Forest – an area in the south of England that covers south-west Hampshire, south-east Wiltshire and east Dorset – is a must-visit for anyone with a penchant for the great outdoors. The region features the much-loved New Forest National Park and has an abundance of idyllic glades, ancient woodland, open moors, heathland and cliff top walks.

The perfect place to visit with your pet pooch, there are not only endless dog-walking opportunities, but there is also an abundance of pet-friendly places to visit, from cosy former coaching inns to an eatery nestled on the northern edge of the New Forest National park. An idyllic sanctuary away from the frenetic pace of city life, the New Forest is a dream destination to retreat to with your canine companion, whatever the time of year.

The Bell Inn - dog friendly hotel in the New Forest

The Bell Inn – dog friendly hotel in the New Forest

WHERE TO STAY

For a dog-friendly hotel in the New Forest, where both human and hound are welcomed in style, The Bell Inn is the perfect place to rest your head (and paws). Tucked away in the picturesque village of Brook near Lyndhurst, The Bell Inn has ample walking options on its very doorstep, an unrivalled foodie offering and the perfect blend of contemporary comfort and traditional charm. With flagstone floors and feature fireplaces alongside stylish wallpaper art, The Bell Inn welcomes dogs in both the bar and the beer garden, as well as the bedrooms. Your four-legged friend will have a bed, bowl and some doggy treats ready and waiting in your bedroom, and while the 28 rooms vary in both size and name – from Snug to Manor – you can rest assured that you and Fido will go out like a light after roaming the nearby New Forest. The Bell Inn also has a fantastic doggy bar menu of treats, which will keep your pooch quiet and content while you enjoy a selection of locally foraged goods that the hotel offers. Find out more and book

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Our top pick of places to wet your whistle is the The Drift Inn – a beautiful dog friendly pub set right in the heart of the New Forest between the villages of Beaulieu and Lyndhurst. The perfect pit stop on your day of woodland walks, your pooch will be made to feel extra special at this pet friendly pub, with dog towels for drying, water bowls, large gardens and doggie biscuits on hand for hungry hounds. And for the humans, The Drift Inn serves up quality, freshly prepared and delicious home cooked dishes, including all your traditional pub favourites, the chefs at the Drift Inn have a real passion for local food which is reflected in their seasonal menus and daily specials.

WALKS & ATTRACTIONS

The list of what to see and where to walk while staying in the New Forest is, of course, a long one – after all the region is as well known for its nature trails as its native ponies. The New Forest boasts over 140 miles of outdoor paths, tracks and trails, so visitors and their furry friends will be spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring all that the area has to offer.

EXBURY GARDENS

The dog friendly Exbury Gardens is nestled in the village of Exbury, and belongs to a branch of the famous Rothschild family. With over 22 miles of pathways within the gardens, as well as a variety of different paths and habitats to explore, it’s a dream doggie destination. If your canine companion is particularly well behaved, they can also enjoy the Exbury Gardens Steam Railway, which runs a 20min journey along a 1 ½ mile track into the Summer Lane Garden. Be sure to keep your dog on their lead while visiting the gardens, and leave nothing behind but paw prints.

THE NEW FOREST LAVENDER FARM

While your canine companion isn’t allowed in the lavender fields, they can accompany you into the garden area of one of the New Forest’s most popular nature spots – the New Forest Lavender Farm. A quaint little garden centre complete with an on-site gift shop, idyllic gardens and an aromatic tea room which offers cakes, teas and coffees, this small but beautiful destination is the perfect place for an afternoon spent outdoors, followed by a relaxing cup of tea or coffee, and, of course, a slice of cake!

MOTTISFONT ABBEY

Sheltered in the valley of the River Test, Mottisfont Abbey is a National Trust-owned historical priory and country estate which is also dog friendly. The site is made up of ancient woodlands, historic farmland and unrivalled access to the River Crest and offers plenty of walking opportunities for you and your four-legged friend around both the gardens and the wider estate. 

WHAT TO PACK 

As The Bell Inn provides everything from dog beds to pup-friendly treats, you can rest assured that your canine companion will be well looked after during your time in the New Forest, however you will need to pack your dog’s own food. Given the abundance of walks on offer in the nearby area, we recommend packing some sensible walking boots or shoes, and some wellies and a raincoat depending on the weather forecast during your stay.

Where are your favourite places in the New Forest? Tell us in the comments below!

Lucy is a Sydney-based book and travel writer, formerly from the UK. She grew up with three sisters and a house full of pets, including a beloved black Labrador. Since moving to Australia she likes nothing more than dog-sitting for friends, and heading out to explore the city's many walks with a furry companion in tow.

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