Dog-friendly stately homes to visit
Bring your dogs along to these National Trust and English Heritage properties to enjoy a run around the grounds and visit walled gardens, woodlands and cafes
The grounds of a stately home are often just as extraordinary as the house itself. It seems churlish, therefore, to not bring along your dog for a run around the fields and woodlands. Although dogs aren't allowed in all National Trust properties, plenty have expansive outdoor spaces to let your furry friends roam before you pop in to check out the historic homes. Here are some of the best stately homes in the UK to visit with dogs.
The best dog-friendly stately homes to visit
Arlington Court, Devon
It always helps when a stately home was previously owned by dog lovers. The Chichesters, who owned Arlington Court for eleven generations, were one such family. Today, dogs on leads are welcome in the gardens, wider estate and the National Trust Carriage Museum, which Arlington is home to. The collection of horse-drawn vehicles is located in the stables, including the Speaker's State Coach on loan from the Houses of Parliament. Beyond this, there are over 20 miles of footpath to explore, including a lake walk, formal Victorian garden and an abundance of wildlife to explore.
Dogs are also welcome to join their owners by the picnic benches in the tea garden for a spot of lunch.
The Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorms
In the heart of the Cairngorms National Park sits Mar Lodge Estate, a stunning hunting lodge built for the Duke and Duchess of Fife in 1895. You can partake in outdoor pursuits, spotting reed deer, red squirrels, golden eagles and black grouse. If you're as much of a walker as your furry friend, this is the perfect destination for you. Four out of the five highest mountains in the UK are found here, so there are plenty of hills to climb.
Dogs are welcome on the estate, but dog owners are asked to keep them under close control, particularly during the bird nesting season between April and July.
You could even take the pup out for an overnight jaunt and pitch a tent for a night of wild camping on the estate.
Lyme Park, Cheshire
Bring the dogs to enjoy the outdoors at Lyme Park, which once played host to the dogs of the Legh family who called this place their home. Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme was once a sporting estate and still boasts a herd of red deer and stunning views all around. Follow in the footsteps of Mr Darcy and visit the lake where he met Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. If you're a super fan, why not visit a few more filming locations from this iconic TV adaptation?
Dogs are welcome in all areas of the park, but in some areas guests are asked to put their dogs on a lead to help protect the local wildlife. Off-lead dog walking is available year round in Knightslow Wood and on a route through Pursefield Wood. You can bring your pups into the garden and eat with them in the Muddy Paws Engine House in the Timber Yard, before popping next door to the Timber Yard shop to check out the range of dog treats and accessories.
There are two seasonal maps for dog walking routes, depending what time of year you're going to be there. Download these maps on the Lyme Park website.
Fun fact: we included Lyme Park in our round-up of the most haunted historic homes in the UK.
Chiswick House, London
The 18th-century palladian villa in West London boasts a 65-acre garden, fountains and ponds, all of which is open to the public – and their dogs. Apart from designated dog-free areas, dog owners can let their furry friends off lead around the Chiswick House Gardens, with free poo bags sponsored by the Dogs Trust and dog waste bins. The gardens are open from 7am to dusk all year round.
At the end of September, take your pup along for the Chiswick House Dog Show on the cricket pitch at Chiswick House.
There are miles of walks to be had with your dog on Wallington's 13,500-acre site, with dogs welcome in the woodlands, on the River and Farm walk and in the hidden walled garden. It's a tranquil spot for an afternoon, before you pop on the bike and drag the dog along the Dragon cycle trail.
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Dogs are allowed in the cafe and shops, but it's only assistance dogs that are allowed entry into the house itself. Water bowls and litter bins can be found in the courtyard.
Marble Hill House, London
The Georgian Marble Hill House in Twickenham is set against the backdrop of 66 acres of riverside parkland.
As part of its £6 million renovations, Marble Hill House and Park announced that it would still allow people to walk their dogs in its grounds. Professional dog walkers are also still welcome, as long as they follow the London Borough of Richmond guidelines that they only bring in four dogs at a time.
Sizergh Castle, Cumbria
If you find yourself in the Lake District, there are dog walking spots galore. At Sizergh, you'll find an epic medieval house with a 1,600-acre estate with a variety of different terrains to explore. There are several recommended walks around Sizergh, with a three-mile circular route to Park End Moss wetland and a 2.5-mile wildlife walk past a spectacular ancient ash tree. You can download the maps via the National Trust website.
Dogs are welcome on a lead in the shop, cafe, wild play area and all around the wider estate – as long as they're put on a lead when crossing fields containing sheep.
Audley End House and Gardens, Essex
Designed by legendary gardener and landscape architect Capability Brown, Audley End Gardens is home to one of England's most opulent Jacobean houses. Twice a day from Monday to Friday, join a member of the team for a free garden history tour to find out about the produce that grows in the Kitchen Garden and how the team organises its seasonal gardening tasks.
Dogs are allowed on leads in the Audley End Gardens, with assistance dogs welcomed throughout.
Ham House and Garden, London
Dogs and their owners are welcome all year round at Ham House and Garden in Richmond. Take a walk in the historic formal garden and explore the nearby riverside trails, parks and woodland. Stop off in the Orangery cafe to test out the local produce with the company of your pup. Well-behaved are also welcome in the gift shop, but only guide dogs are allowed into the house itself.
Dog waste bins are available on side, with short leads and spare dog waste bags available at the visitor reception if you need them. You can even request a little doggy treat if your pal is being particularly well behaved. If you want to extend your trip, you could a walk into Richmond Park afterwards – as long as you look out for deer!
Fun fact: we included Ham House in our round-up of the most haunted historic homes in the UK.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome in the garden and park of Belvoir Castle, but they must be kept on leads. Doggy drinking stations are available at the Engine Yard Retails Park.
Find out more about the custodians of Belvoir Castle here and how the Duchess of Rutland has made Belvoir Castle and its ground into a thriving business.
Dogs are welcome in the 2000 acres of parkland at Blenheim Palace, as well as the east courtyard and outdoor seating areas at the Oxfordshire Pantry and Pizzeria. Unfortunately though, you're not allowed to take your dog into the palace itself, the great court or the formal or walled gardens, so you'll have to leave your pup with a friend if you want to go and check out the Blenheim Palace maze, which we included in our list of the best mazes in the UK.
Are you allowed to take dogs to National Trust properties?
The only rules are as follows:
- Keep your dog in sight and under control at all times, using a lead when necessary.
- Don't let your dog chase wildlife or farm animals.
- Look out for local notices. There might be restrictions at certain times of the year, such as lambing season or when ground-nesting birds are raising their young.
- Always pick up after your dog. There are dog bins at many National Trust sites.
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