Our guide to pet-friendly travel
How to enjoy eco-friendly adventures with your dog in the UK
Pets are an important part of our lives, but just like us, they can have a big impact on the environment. From plastic toys to meat-based foods, it’s almost impossible to avoid their impact on the environment entirely. Fortunately, there are many ways to be a more sustainable pet owner.
Travelling is yet another joy in life that is often seen as unsustainable. But again, there are plenty of options for eco-friendly adventures while being kinder to the environment, even if you’re someone who likes to travel with your four-legged friends in tow!
Whether you’re stopping in a pet-friendly hotel or opting for the convenience of self-catering accommodation, we’ve put together a handy guide on how to enjoy a more eco-friendly break with your dog. With Earth Day coming up on the 22nd April, why not make your next holiday a little more eco?
Car-free trips to eco and dog-friendly destinations
One of the easiest ways to make a change to your travel habits is to ditch your car for public transport. Wherever you’re planning on going, there are plenty of gorgeous places that you can easily reach via train and bus.
Here are some of our favourite eco and dog-friendly destinations for travels, with easy access via train. Best of all, there’s plenty for your pooch to enjoy too!
Best for: Exploring the Lake District National Park
There’s no better place for your dog to explore than the Lake District National Park, and you’ll find an excellent selection of dog-friendly hotels and self-catering cottages in the area. Renowned for its craggy mountains, glacial lakes, and picture-postcard towns, it’s a place where you can switch off from the modern world and get back to nature without having to rely too much on your car. Your dog is sure to enjoy the wealth of mountain walks in the area with you too.
The National Park is also proud of its ‘Low-carbon Lake District’ initiative, which aims to cut down the region’s carbon emissions through careful land management and setting local carbon budgets. It looks like it’s working, too - emissions have dropped by 25% in the past four years!
Best for: Strolling through the many acres of the Yorkshire Arboretum
Whether you’re travelling from Cornwall or Scotland, there are many train routes through the city of York - the most popular being the CrossCountry train service which offers direct journeys without any stressful changeovers along the way. The city itself is full of lovely parks and gardens for you and your pooch to enjoy, including the Museum Gardens and the Yorkshire Arboretum - both of which are dog-friendly.
A study into the greenest places in Britain found that the city of York topped the charts for many of the categories, placing first in its proportion of zero-plastic shoppers and those growing their own food at home!
Best for: Hiking to the top of Snowdon with your furry friend
Home of the Snowdonia National Park, North Wales offers endless opportunities for adventure. Nestled among the dramatic mountain peaks are cosy towns and villages, offering a peaceful retreat from the everyday bustle. From Beddgelert to Llanrwst, there are so many beautiful spots that you can reach via the local bus services.
When it comes to sustainability, there’s no better place to enjoy some locally-grown produce. From locally-reared beef on Anglesey to fresh honey from the Snowdon Honey Farm, there are plenty of tasty options that will help to cut down your carbon footprint.
Best for: Soaking up the views from Arthur’s Seat
From the wild and dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to the historic streets of Edinburgh, Scotland is full of scenic places to enjoy some time away with your pooch. In the capital city, you’ll find a whole host of sustainable and eco-friendly eateries and some of which, like Inver in Loch Fyne, are completely zero waste. Travelling up to Scotland is made easy with ScotRail and Avanti West Coast, which provides rail links from across the UK to Glasgow and beyond.
Best for: Exploring the city on your bike
The city of Bristol has a longstanding reputation of being an eco-friendly destination, scooping the title of the UK’s greenest city and being the first to be named a European Green Capital. Dogs are very much welcomed in this lively city - some of the best restaurants are dog-friendly and all the public transport is too.
If you’re planning on hiring or bringing a bike along, there are excellent cycling paths through the city - ideal for saving on taxi fares (and carbon emissions!). Some bike hire companies, such as Webbs Cycle Shop offer dog trailers for free.
Eco-friendly attractions to bring your pooch
From the tropical biomes of The Eden Project in Cornwall to the renewable energy programs at Chatsworth House in the Derbyshire Dales, there’s a whole host of eco attractions renowned for their sustainability efforts here in the UK that you can bring your pooch along to.
The Eden Project
One of Cornwall’s most popular eco attractions, The Eden Project is a botanical garden with a twist. Housing the world’s largest indoor rainforest in a series of glass biomes, it’s an experience unlike any other.
While dogs aren’t allowed within the biomes, there’s a stunning outdoor garden area that well-behaved dogs can enjoy. The attraction plays a major part in local sustainability, hosting geothermal energy and biodiversity projects on-site.
Telephone: 01726 811972
Address: Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
The elegant manor and the beautiful grounds of Chatsworth House are impressive sights on their own, but it’s the sustainability efforts happening behind the scenes that make it even more of a fantastic attraction.
In 2013, the Chatsworth Renewable Energy Centre (CREC) opened to supply the grounds with renewable electricity and heat sources - cutting down 1300+ tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Dogs are allowed to explore the outside grounds, as long as they are kept on leads.
Telephone: 01246 565300
Address: Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP
Loch Leven National Nature Reserve
Location: Perth and Kinross, Scotland
If you prefer awe-inspiring natural attractions, then the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve is well worth a visit. This huge lake in Kinross is home to hundreds of birds, from ospreys in the summer months to wintering wildfowl during the months of December and January. Dogs are free to explore this stunning area, but it’s considerate to keep them on a lead to prevent them from disturbing the local wildlife.
The reserve is carefully managed and monitored to ensure the best possible environment for its plants and wildlife; several locations are ‘protected areas’ which safeguard particular insect and bird species, such as the critically endangered Thanatophilus dispar beetle species.
Telephone: 01738 458609
Address: Kinross Pier, Kinross KY13 8EU
The Centre for Alternative Technology
Location: Powys, Wales
The Centre for Alternative Technology is a visitor centre that focuses around teaching guests all about renewable energy, sustainable forest management and how to grow thriving organic gardens.
Take a walk around the grounds and you’ll see cutting-edge green techniques throughout - you might even pick up a few tips for your garden or greenhouse back at home! Dogs are welcome to explore the grounds, providing they’re kept on a lead.
Telephone: 01654 705950
Address: Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth SY20 9AZ
Nestled within the heart of Essex, Markshall Estate is a beautiful conservation area with miles of protected ancient woodland and acres of landscaped gardens to discover. Dogs are allowed to freely roam the grounds with their owners, although they are expected to be on leads out of courtesy for other guests and the local wildlife.
Telephone: 01376 563796
Address: Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1TG
Eco-friendly hiking tours to take your pooch
Walking tours are a fantastic way to get out in nature while learning more about the local area and the wildlife within it. Whether you’d like a private tour or don’t mind tagging along with a group, you’ll likely get a chance to check out places you would have otherwise missed if you were exploring on your own. Here are some of the best dog-friendly tour companies in the UK:
London Walking Tours
If you are heading over to the capital for a weekend break, London Walking Tours can help you to discover the very best attractions and landmarks in the city. Most of their tours are completely on foot along London’s streets, which is ideal for those bringing their dogs out for the day.
Telephone: 07803 852 499
Discover the stunning sights of the Lake District with an experienced guide from Mountain Walks. Their most popular routes include The Coniston 7 and the Coledale 10 Peak Challenge, both of which involve a full-day of walking, but you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular panoramas across this gorgeous National Park.
Edinburgh Free Tour
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
It’s always nice to get something for free!
“The Edinburgh Free Tour is the best rated walking tour around the Old Town. It lasts two hours and starts every day at 10 am, 11am and 1pm in front of a bar called Copper Still, on The Royal Mile. And, of course, it is dog friendly. Look for the yellow umbrellas!” Marcos Ricoy, City Explorers Tours.
Telephone: 07544 176433
The most eco-friendly restaurants and cafes that you can dine with your four-legged friend
All that walking in the open air is sure to work up an appetite. Thankfully, you’ll find plenty of excellent eco-friendly restaurants and cafes that offer sustainably-sourced meals and inventive seasonal menus, that are dog-friendly too. Here are some of our favourite diners in the UK.
Set within John Soane’s walled kitchen garden in Walpole Park, Soane’s Kitchen is a charming restaurant that uses locally-sourced ingredients from the garden itself - including delicious Pitzhanger honey. If you’re stopping in the city, it’s a lovely place to grab breakfast on one of the outdoor picnic tables before heading out with your pooch.
Rick Stein's Café
Set just behind the harbour in Padstow, Rick Stein's Café is a cosy place to grab a bite to eat. On the menu, you’ll find an excellent selection of locally-sourced fish and seafood dishes, garnished with local produce. Dogs can sit in the courtyard with their owners - ideal on warm summer days.
Telephone: 01841 532700
Sticklebarn in Langdale
Once an old barn, Sticklebarn in Langdale has been transformed into an eco-friendly pub run by the National Trust. Crafted from slate and timber from the local valley, their sustainable ethos carries on into their daily practices - the electricity is produced from the torrents of the nearby ghyll and their water is sourced straight from the fells. If the sun is shining, the picnic tables offer a lovely spot for you and your pooch to enjoy the scenic surroundings.
Telephone: 015394 37356
Gordon Castle & Walled Garden Cafe
Location: Moray, Scotland
As one of the largest working kitchen gardens in the UK, the Gordon Castle & Walled Garden Cafe offers some of the freshest sandwiches, pastries, and quiches around. If you feel like something extra special, you can book an indulgent afternoon tea in advance - a lovely treat after spending the afternoon wandering the gardens with your pup!
Telephone: 01343 612317
k ō j i
Set within the historic streets of Chester, k ō j i is an all-natural cocktail and wine bar. Their drinks menu is flowing with organically-grown wines, zero-waste cocktails, and fermented soft drinks. If coffee is more your thing, why not try their Blossom Espresso – roasted locally in Manchester – and enjoy a cup alfresco on their seating area on Rufus Court.
The most eco-friendly ways to travel
While hopping in the car and driving to your holiday destination might seem like the quickest and easiest option, it isn’t always the most sustainable way to travel. Many people prefer to avoid the stress of rushing for buses and catching the correct trains, but once you get used to this way of travelling it’s actually very convenient.
Not to mention that it can save you from having to wait in those dreaded traffic jams on the motorway during the peak summer seasons. So, here are some of the best ways to see the UK without having to get in the car:
When you travel by train, you can let someone else do the hard work for you while you sit and soak up the amazing views on the way to your destination. The UK rail network serves over 2,500 stations, linking the South Coast all the way up to the Scottish Highlands.
In recent years, modern rail advancements have allowed for train journeys in the UK to get shorter and shorter - in fact, you can typically get from London to Scotland in less than five hours!
The National Rail Conditions of Travel rules for dogs travelling on trains state:
- Dogs must be kept on a lead for the entire journey unless they are in a pet carrier
- Dogs are not allowed to stay within dining carriages
- Pet carriers must have a maximum size of 85 x 60 x 60cm
- Each passenger is allowed up to two dogs for free
- Dogs are allowed to travel in First Class
These rules apply to Avanti West Coast, GWR, LNER, ScotRail, and Greater Anglia.
While buses might not be the comfiest option for long journeys, they’re particularly good for getting around towns and cities. Many bus routes stop at popular attractions across the UK, which means you can just hop on and hop off once you’ve had a good look around. Dogs are typically allowed on buses at the driver’s discretion. National and regional bus companies that allows dogs include:
- First Group
- Courtney Buses
- Compass Travel
- Transport for London
- Go North East
If you are planning on a group getaway with friends, you can always try and reduce the number of cars needed by sharing the trip in a single-car (as long as you don’t have too many suitcases to squeeze in between!).
If your dog isn’t used to riding in a car, here are some tips on how to keep them calm and comfortable during the journey:
- Play some calm, soothing music: There are even some YouTube channels dedicated to providing dog-friendly tunes, such as Relax My Dog.
- Give them a chance to have a sniff around the car before setting off on your journey: This allows your dog to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
- Bring their favourite blanket or toy: it will carry strong scents of your home, which your dog will soon recognise.
Packing your suitcase responsibly
You’ve booked your accommodation, sorted your mode of transport and are now probably counting down the days until your well-deserved getaway. In the meantime, why not think about how you can pack your suitcase responsibly? Here are some of our eco essentials:
For your dog
- Eco dog poop bags: You can find many that are made from compostable materials.
- Natural dog toys and chews: Chews made from the off-cuts of pork and beef are better for the planet, and a healthy choice for your dog.
- Sustainably sourced dog treats: You could even try making your own peanut butter treats using this recipe at home.
- Reusable and foldable water bowl: These types of bowls are made from a water-resistant fabric; ideal for folding up and taking with you on a long walk.
- Reusable face pads made from recycled cotton or bamboo
- Shampoo bar (as an alternative to reusable plastic bottles)
- Solar phone charger
- Reusable coffee cup
- Bamboo toothbrush
- Eco-friendly sunscreen
Eco-friendly travel tips
When it comes to making sustainable changes in your travel habits, every little helps. Here are some small things you can do to make a big difference before and after you arrive at your holiday destination:
Use eco-friendly dog toys and accessories
Instead of plush toys that can easily get lost on your walks, try to bring along toys that are made from natural or recycled materials which will eventually break down. Some examples of these include sustainable jute rope tug toys, natural rubber chew toys.
Limit your use of single-use plastics where possible
When travelling, try to use recycled plastic bottles for shampoo and shower gel. Many shops sell mini-sized bottles of popular hair and skincare products, which can easily be refilled and reused each time you travel.
Try to pick up litter, even if it’s not yours
It can be frustrating to see discarded bottles and cans in beauty spots, which is why it’s often a good idea to bring along a spare bag and some gloves to pick up any obvious litter you see while enjoying a walk.
Opt for locally-sourced ingredients
If you’re stopping in a self-catering cottage and planning on cooking your own dinners while away, try to opt for locally-sourced ingredients to use in your meals. This might mean visiting the local butchers or farmer’s market, but it’s well worth it to cut down carbon emissions.
Walk or cycle when exploring
While it might be tempting to grab a taxi - especially on those gloomy, rainier days - it’s best to try and walk or cycle to nearby attractions. We’d recommend bringing along an OS map or using the GPS on your phone to plan a route before setting out.
Be aware of animal and ecosystem welfare
Ready to set out? Getting out and about in nature is important for our well-being, but it’s important to consider how to explore Britain’s natural habitats without disturbing the local animal and plant life.
Avoid disturbing animals that may be raising young
Before heading out to a local nature reserve, field or woodland, it’s a good idea to check for any seasonal restrictions. During the spring and early summer months, livestock start to give birth to young and local farmers often choose to close off their fields to protect lambs.
Leave plants and flowers to bloom
When Britain’s forests and fields are in full bloom, it’s tempting to pick a few flowers or grab a few cuttings for your own garden. However, it’s best to leave things as they are - especially if you find a particularly unusual or rare-looking plant.
Stick to the footpaths
Often, footpaths are created through woodlands and fields to protect certain areas from becoming trampled and over-walked - this is especially important in Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) which are often home to rare species of plants or insects.
Ensure your dog remains calm around wildlife
While it can be exciting for your pooch to spot a speedy squirrel or a passing hare, it’s important to put them on a lead if it looks like they might make a run towards another animal. If an animal becomes frightened or gets chased, it might lose its way from the herd or its home.
- World Wide Fund for Nature
- Blue Marine Foundation
- Rainforest Alliance
- The Wildlife Trusts
- Keep Britain Tidy
Sustainable pet owner guides
- RSPCA - Nine ways to become a more sustainable pet owner
- The Wildlife Trusts - How to be an eco-friendly pet owner
- Green Matters - How to Make Sustainable Dog Treats at Home
- Country Living - Six things you should already be doing if you’re an eco-conscious dog owner