Packed with epic coastlines and a smorgasbord of dog-friendly eateries, Cornwall’s dramatic north coast is a veritable playground for our four-legged friends - especially the bustling harbourside town of Newquay.
Oh yes, whether it’s a giant dog-friendly beach or a winding coastal path that finishes with a beer garden, there’s no end to Newquay’s supply of dog-friendly days out. And with such a wild and wonderful coastline on offer, it will be of little surprise that Newquay is a favourite amongst dog walkers (and dogs!), boasting a catalogue of pup-tastic walks.
So, whether you’re after a sniff-worthy walk through the woods or a golden beach where the dogs can leave paw prints in the sand, these dog-friendly walks in and around Newquay are sure to get the tails wagging.
Pentire Point West
Best for: Beer gardens and beaches
Distance: 3 miles
Starting and finishing at the clifftop Bowgie Inn, this speedy stroll is perfect for those who like to sandwich their walk between some refreshing Cornish pints and a jaw-dropping view. Once you’ve parked up (there are public car parks on the headland and one at the inn, if you are stopping for some food and drink), head onto the South West Coast Path and turn left, following the path around the headland to Porth Joke (also known as Polly Joke). If you’re visiting in the middle of summer, the fields across the headland will be awash with red and yellow as poppies and corn marigolds raise their colourful heads.
Stop for a refreshing dip at Polly Joke (dogs are welcome all year round) before following the track inland. When you reach West Pentire Road, you have two choices: you can turn right for a short cut back to The Bowgie Inn or you can continue left for a slightly longer route through Crantock. Walking through Crantock will take you past the golden, dog-friendly beach, giving you yet another opportunity to splash around in Cornish waters.
Newquay town walk
Best for: A little bit of everything
Distance: 5.8 miles
Known far and wide as the surf capital of Cornwall, no trip to Newquay is complete without a visit to Fistral beach – another of Newquay’s incredible beaches that welcomes dogs all year round. This mix-and-match-style walk is a great way to get your beach day in, as not only do you get to enjoy the famous charms of Fistral beach, but the walk around the town provides ample pitstops and refreshment opportunities. Head to the cliff-top delights of Lewinnick Lodge, where you can dine with the dog in the bar and terrace overlooking the sea, or the many welcoming beach-side cafés for that all important post-walk refuel.
Starting and finishing your walk at Manor Car Park in the centre of town, you’ll walk past several of Newquay’s top landmarks, including the historic harbour, huers hut, and Trenance Gardens, which offer a sub-tropical sweep of colour. Skirting around Newquay to the left, take the coastal path towards Fistral beach. From here, a loop around Pentire Headland will deliver you to the idyllic shores of the Gannel Estuary, where you can enjoy the views towards Crantock or hop on the Fern Pitt Ferry to extend your walk further (be mindful of tide and ferry times). You’ll return through some residential roads and along the trackbed of a former horse-drawn tramway, providing the dogs with countless opportunities for sniffing.
Watergate Bay to Porth Island
Best for: Year-round sandy strolls
Distance: 4 miles
Boasting 2 miles of glorious sand and surf, Watergate Bay is a popular haunt for beachgoers and their salty sea dogs. Parking at Watergate Bay, this sandy stretch of coast was made for curious noses, with lots of caves and rockpools waiting to be explored – not to mention the spectacularly dog-friendly The Beach Hut where hot chocolates and feel-good foods await.
It’s up to you whether you start your walk along the beach or the coast path, either way, you’re in for some incredible sea views and plenty of opportunities to cool off, as well as a wonderfully simple path to follow. Your turning point for the walk lies at Trevelgue Head, where you’ll find a fascinating Bronze Age fort and a dramatic blowhole, which can often be heard before it’s seen! Watergate Bay and Whipsiderry beach both welcome dogs all year round, while Porth beach, which lies next to Trevelgue Head, has restrictions between the 15th of May to the 30th of September between 10am and 6pm.
St Mawgan Woods
Best for: Dappled dog walks
Distance: 6.6 miles
Going together like Sundays and lie-ins, dogs and woods are meant to be. Whether it’s the symphony of smells only our canine friends can fully experience or the near-limitless offering of sticks to claim and carry with pride, a woodland walk is always high on our list when taking out the pooch. Parking in the small car park near the post office, we recommend spending some time wandering around the pretty village of St Mawgan and discovering its historic charms.
The walk itself takes you along an idyllic, winding river under the cover of the Carnanton Estate’s luscious woodland until you reach the medieval market town of St Columb Major, where historic buildings and cosy pubs await – we recommend stopping by Ring O’ Bells for a dog-friendly welcome and a famously tasty menu. The return journey follows a series of paths and lanes that eventually descend into the valley, before depositing you back in St Mawgan. Nearby Mawgan Porth beach is the perfect post-walk stop as it’s dog-friendly all year round and promises lots of caves, rockpools, and swimming space for all.
Best for: Dramatic views
Distance: 4.5 miles
If you’ve come to North Cornwall for big and beautiful views, this walk has them by the bucket load, with one of Cornwall’s most photographed stretches of coast taking centre stage. You’ll start your coastal excursion from Park Head car park, which is run by the National Trust and has dog bins standing by. A blackthorn-lined path leads down to the coast, where you’ll follow the path to the left across Park Head. Trescore Islands provide a spectacular start to your sea views, while dog-friendly Porth Mear beach provides a pretty place for some sandy zoomies. Back on the coast path, you’ll soon arrive at Cornwall’s incredible rocky attraction.
The towering stacks at Bedruthan Steps create a mystical scene, emerging from the waters like the looming giants that used to roam here (at least, that’s what the legends say). If the beach is open, it’s well worth descending the 149 steps to the sandy cove, which is steeped in history and mystery, and a fantastic example of why this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Once your film is full of every conceivable angle of the dog (and the views, of course) make your way up to the nearby National Trust café and shop for some refreshments – there’s water bowls for the dogs, too!
Holywell Bay to Perranporth
Best for: Beer on the beach
Distance: 4.6 miles
Starting and finishing with beaches that welcome dogs 365 days a year, this coastal romp is a firm favourite of our furry friends. Known far and wide by the famous Gull Rocks that emerge from the sea (which have starred in Poldark and House of the Dragon), Holywell Bay makes for a wonderful start to your journey. The golden sands and expansive dunes make for an epic natural playground for pups, giving them plenty of space to test the limits of their sandy sprinting before turning paws and feet towards the South West Coast Path.
Following the path along the cliffs, past Penhale Point and Ligger Point, you’ll soon be greeted by the reaching sands of Perranporth beach and the bustling town beyond. Perranporth promises many tempting eateries, but there’s only one that’s slap-bang in the middle of the beach. Claiming the title of the UK’s only bar on the beach, The Watering Hole is the ultimate place to wet your whistle after your walk. The best part? Dogs are welcome! Once you’ve soaked up the serene scenes, it’s a short bus ride back to Holywell Bay.
Higherwell Farm Dog Walking Field
Best for: A totally enclosed runaround
Higherwell Farm, Hendra Croft, Rejerrah, Newquay TR8 5QP
Not quite a walk, but an uber-effective way of tiring out the dog nonetheless, Higherwell Farm near Newquay offers a totally enclosed, 2-acre field where your four-legged friends can let loose. You can book out the field for half-hour and hour sessions and enjoy the whole field to yourself, or for as many dogs as are in your party, perfect for dogs whose recall is still being finely tuned.
Top tip: Cornwall is home to many wonderful farms, which means grazing livestock can often be found near footpaths. Keeping dogs on leads during these stretches will ensure everyone can enjoy the beautiful Cornish countryside together.