With more and more holiday cottage owners welcoming dogs into their properties, it’s a great time to holiday with your four-legged pals. We appreciate that it’s hard leaving your canine pal at home when you go away as they are as much a part of the family as anybody else.
We want you and your dog to have the best possible holiday or break that you can. Below, you will find information about seasonal beach restrictions, great walks and places to keep your pal on a lead or to avoid all together. For instance, there are a lot of nature reserves in the region and the rules are in place not to inconvenience dog owners but for reasons in keeping with the habitats and conservation.
Kent and Sussex are full of glorious walks ranging from a sedate stroll on flat ground right the way through to the long distance Viking Way, the hilly Wealdway, and the fantastic South Downs National Park with its amazing coastal views and never ending steep climbs. Beaches are great for winter walks, usually quite empty, they are, on the whole, away from livestock and traffic and the scenery is great no matter what time of the year you visit.
Romney Marsh stretches for miles along the Sussex and Kent coastline and its flat landscapes make fantastic walking and cycling country. Lots of sheep graze on the Marsh throughout the year so take care with dogs near the livestock – leads are recommended. There is a Visitor Centre in New Romney – a leaflet and some walks are attached. Hastings Country Park is an absolute haven for dog walkers. It stretches across 600 acres running along the coast from Fairlight all the way to Hastings Old Town. Fabulous sea views and lots of open spaces make it a great destination for dog walks.
Please be aware that wild Exmoor ponies do graze the park and wander unrestricted so please keep dogs under control. Also, take care when close to cliff edges because of extreme erosion in some places.
The following beaches have no restrictions all year round:
Abbot's Cliff, Cooden Beach, Cuckmere Haven Beach, Dumpton Gap, Dungeness, Hampton Pier - West Kingsgate Bay, Littlestone, Lydden Spout, Normans Bay, Reculver Beach, Shakespeare Beach, St Mary’s Bay, Seaford Bay, Tankerton Beach, The Warren, Folkestone West Bay (Westgate), West Quay, Newhaven, Whitstable, West Beach
The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is a dog friendly train and is a great way to explore the coastline – you can catch the train at Dungeness and hop on and off at any of the stations along the route. Dogs travel for free.
The Kent and East Sussex Railway is also dog friendly and also makes a charge of £3 for dogs. It’s a great attraction to travel on to see the area with the main station in the lovely town of Tenterden.
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Dogs are welcomed here but keep them under close control so that they do not affect other people or wildlife and remember that if you walk along footpaths with livestock nearby, please keep dogs on leads.
Dungeness National Nature Reserve
Dogs are welcomed here but please do keep them on a lead and wherever possible and appropriate. Please keep to the boardwalks that have been erected to restrict damage and disturbance to the shingle banks and any ground nesting birds and rare wildlife. Dungeness is a SSSI and is a unique site, much of it fragile. Outside of the nature reserve, there are no restrictions placed on dogs on Dungeness beach.
Bodiam Castle is one of the country’s most distinctive looking castles with its turrets, moat and drawbridge. The castle is off limits to dogs but they are welcome in the grounds only. A dog tethering point and dog bowl are outside the ticket office opposite the castle entrance. Assistance dogs are welcome in all areas.
This former home to the author Rudyard Kipling has some beautiful gardens. Book a tour to see some curiosities from the Kipling Collection that are normally in storage and hear their stories in a unique tour of the house. Dogs are now welcome in the grounds on a short lead.
Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest
Dogs on leads are welcome in the Pinetum, bins and bags are provided for you to pick up any mess too. Sadly, dogs are not allowed inside the visitor centre or cafe, with the exception of guide dogs. The forest trails are the only areas where you are permitted to let your dog off the lead. Please be mindful of other mild restrictions at Bedgebury.
Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd. There are restrictions and only assistance dogs are permitted on site.
Scotney Castle is a famous National Trust country house, romantic garden, 14th century moated castle - all in a beautiful wooded estate. Dogs on a short lead are welcome throughout the grounds and the estate.
Sissinghurst Castle Gardens
The former home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, Sissinghurst Castle created a world renowned garden, now managed by the National Trust. Dogs are welcome on short leads around the wider estate but are not allowed into the formal garden.