Hounds in Hampshire: The Best Days out for your Dog Friendly Holiday
Statistics show that almost half of Brits prefer to holiday in the UK, and it’s not hard to see why: no fussing about passports, no weighing luggage, no pouring toiletries into tiny bottles. And, of course, dogs are invited to come along for the adventure!
Aside from the obvious bonuses of avoiding pricey kennel fees and the guilt of leaving a member of the family behind, taking your four-legged friend on holiday can open the door to new experiences you otherwise might not have even considered. With so much to see and do, Hampshire has something for everyone, including your dog.
You could consider a dog friendly cottage in the New Forest – such a gorgeous green area of Hampshire to explore. For a fun holiday with the freedom to do as you please check out these pet friendly Hampshire holiday parks. Or if you and your pet are looking for luxury then a Hampshire lodge is a great idea. For that extra luxurious touch choose a lodge with a hot tub so you can unwind in style after a day exploring with your four legged friend.
The Great Outdoors
Hampshire is home to a diverse landscape of marshes, ancient woodland, rolling hills and chalk streams. Whether you’re in the mood for a long countryside hike, a stroll through the gardens of a stately home, or a walk with sea views, you and your pooch are sure to find the perfect new outdoor space to explore. And what better way to blow away the cobwebs than a new dog-walking route?
Hampshire is also home to two national parks, New Forest and South Downs, and with plenty of off-road footpaths and bridlepaths, they are a dog-walker’s dream. New Forest National Park offers a huge range of dog walking routes, from open heathland and woodland to coastline paths with sea views on the Solent Way, while South Downs National Park welcomes dogs and their owners to explore beautiful forests and panoramic views.
The Test Valley also offers some great walking routes, taking in woodlands, water meadows, chalk hills, and of course, the River Test. The 44-mile Test Way is a particularly popular walking route. Split into eight manageable sections that give you a taste of the valley’s varied landscape, it passes through villages such as Romsey and Stockbridge where you can explore historic churches and listed buildings.
A hound’s perfect holiday wouldn’t be complete without a bit of rolling in the sand and splashing in the sea, and Hampshire’s stunning coastline has no shortage of dog-friendly beaches for you and your tail-wagger to enjoy.
Hampshire’s most popular beach for pooches might be Milford-on-Sea, which ranked among the UK’s top 50 dog-friendly beaches in 2021. Located in New Forest, Milford-on-Sea offers a scenic walk to Keyhaven and Hurst Spit, where you and your furry friend can enjoy an easy walk along the sea walls or explore the Keyhaven Marsh nature reserve, a stone’s throw away. Or, for those who love the historical, Hurst Castle is just 40 minutes away on foot or easily reached by ferry, allowing you to take in the marshes’ native wildlife.
Also in New Forest, just along the coast from Keyhaven, is Barton-on-Sea, which sits on the coast below the town of New Milton. With clifftop views to the east and west and a shingle beach, Barton-on-Sea offers beautiful coastal views and is the starting point for the Solent Way. It’s also known to be a great spot for finding fossils.
Finally, Southsea, just below Portsmouth city centre, promises a classic British day out at the seaside for the whole family. Southsea Beach stretches from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, and while there are some restriction on the beach’s busiest areas in summer, dogs are permitted all year round from the Royal Marines Museum and beyond Henderson Road. The beach is backed by a promenade with cafes, restaurants and amusements, as well as a seawater canoe lake that’s perfect for crabbing, and the dog-friendly café comes highly recommended!
Dog Friendly Attractions
There are plenty of attractions for you to enjoy along the way as you explore Hampshire’s breath-taking landscape.
Hampshire’s National Trust and English Heritage sites tell the area’s rich history, from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century, and pooches are invited to take in their beautiful grounds and gardens.
Some of the National Trust’s most popular dog-friendly locations include Mottisfont, an 18th Century house built around a medieval priory, whose gardens feature riverside walkways and an ancient spring, and The Vyne, a former Tudor powerhouse with a walled garden, orchard and bird hide.
Many of English Heritage’s local castles also welcome dogs on leads, including Portchester Castle near Portsmouth, Wolvesey Castle in Winchester, and Hurst Castle in the New Forest, which even has some four-legged residents of its own!
Alternative outdoor attractions to enjoy with canine friends include Exbury Gardens, which welcomes pups to explore 22 miles of footpaths and even to take a ride on a steam train! And at Chawton House, an Elizabethan manor referenced in Jane Austen’s letters, although dogs are not allowed inside the house, you and your furry friend are invited to explore the gardens and enjoy refreshments at the Courtyard Tearooms. While at Butser Ancient Farm, an archaeological site in the South Downs, humans and dogs alike can explore a Roman villa, a Celtic village, a Stone Age farm, and Saxon halls, telling the tale of 10,000 years of human history.
Or, if you’re looking for indoor activities, a trip to Hampshire wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the Watercress Line steam train, where dogs ride for free! With four heritage stations in Ropley, Alresford, Medstead and Four Marks and Alton, when you’re not taking in the beautiful scenery, you and your pup can hop on and off to explore these historic towns.
Alternatively, why not head to the Brickworks Museum in Southampton to learn about ‘the gritty history of 125 years of brickmaking’, or the Beaulieu Motor Museum, home to world class collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia.