Dog Walks – North Devon – Croyde Beach – Saunton Sands – Westward Ho!

PET CHECK UK long view along Croyde beach North Devon

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Croyde Beach – Saunton Sands – Westward Ho!

Featuring dog walking around the UK

Pictured Croyde beach

Beautiful dog-friendly walks along coastal routes and sandy beaches

Croyde is a small old English village with origins dating back to Celtic times, tucked away by the northern coast of Devon, surrounded by the North Devon Area Of Outstanding Beauty. The coastline faces the Atlantic Ocean and the western limit of the Bristol Channel.

Croyde is home to a small population, swelled during warmer months with young surfers staying in tent parks and holiday parks close by, popular for some of the best surfing waters and beaches in Britain.

During cooler months from 1st October to 30th April, dogs are welcome on Croyde beach. The popular visitor summer months dogs and dog walking becomes restricted.

Lifeguards patrol the beach during the busy summer months as the waters are renowned for rip tides flanking at either end of the long beach and it’s best to ensure your dog stays in the middle of the beach and be cautious when playing in the water with you, and where lifeguards may not be present out of season.

There is easy access to the main beach whilst the upper shore is flanked by wild sand dunes and vegetation.

During the season there are cafes and eateries operating with toilet facilities and all year easy access car parking.

Saunton Sands is a little further south of Croyde Beach, boasting the finest hotel in North Devon overlooking the northern stretch of the glorious 3.5-mile-long straight sandy beach leading to Crow Point at the mouth of the River Taw estuary.

Saunton Sands does allow dogs on the beach 365 days of the year. Owners are asked to keep their pets on leads in front of the beach hut area at the start of the beach.

This famous beach was used to rehearse 1940’s D Day landings but later times has been home to rock stars filming their videos, and the Royal Air Force uses it from time to time to train pilots in landings and takeoffs. These events warrant closure of the beach so it’s always best to re-check dog walking restrictions at the Visit Devon website and local social media.

Saunton Sands is a very popular beach with families, is better for the safer swimmer, and currently operates without a lifeguard presence.

Croyde Beach

Saunton Sands

Westward Ho! made famous by Charles Kingsley’s novel, published 1855 of the same name, is a small village slightly tucked back from the coastline.

Dogs are allowed onto Westward Ho! beach 365 days but with a summer restricted area. Between1 May to 30th September dogs are only allowed on the northern end of the beach but allowed full access to all the beaches outside of these dates.

The beach is sandy with the upper shore backed with pebbles before leading to the Northam Burrows country park situated behind.

The main beach is patrolled in summer by lifeguards and has toilet facilities and the waterfront has family cafes and eateries with easy car park access.

WestWard Ho!

There’s room for dogs on North Devon’s beaches, but with restrictions differing between the areas of the beaches starting from Easter time. Read our guide.

Visit Devon provides a list of the North Devon dog-friendly beaches with dates and it’s wise to double-check these dates before making a special journey.

The RNLI operates a lifeguard presence during the summer months at Croyde Beach and Westward Ho! as well as lifeboat-based nearby Appledore based on the River Taw estuary close to Westward ho! beach. Remind yourself of their beach safety advice before visiting.

Information about high tide times is available from most meteorological websites. It’s important to plan around high tide, because you’ll get more enjoyment with your dog when the tide is about 2 hours after high tide, going out, and exposing sands and shingle at many of the UK’s beaches. It provides more space and freedom to spend time on the beach and especially as the sands start drying out.

Several veterinary practices are available nearby based mainly in Barnstaple or Bideford with selected practices additionally treating exotic pets.



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If you’re planning to stay in the area, then Sykes Holidays holiday cottages rentals offer a number of holiday lets in a variety of differing dog-friendly properties with a selection near to the beaches but these do get booked very quickly. There’s a range of modern and traditional properties close to the coastline and Barnstaple and Bideford areas. #Ad.


Never leave your dog unattended in your car especially in hot weather

Beach doggie tips to remember 

  • To take lots (more than usual) of fresh water and a collapsible bowl for your thirsty dog. Seawater is salty and will make your dog even more thirsty.
  • Have old towels to dry your dog if they’ve been swimming. Provide them with towels to sit on rather than the sand, and towels help to clean off the sand before going home!
  • A sun canopy or umbrella shade is important, not just for you, but also for your dog who can catch sunburn as much as you can.
  • You may need to use a short and/or long dog lead during restriction times, and take a dog muzzle if you prefer your dog to wear one on busier beaches. They can act out character in new, unknown places often feeling anxious.
  • Please remember to take your rubbish home with you. That includes dog poop which is your responsibility to clean up at all times. 

To get the very best out of a special day trip, plan in advance

  • Pre-book your car park space if necessary
  • Check all local social media before setting out including if there are traffic build-ups in the area so you are not wasting time sitting in a hot car
  • Check tide times for the best times to be on the beach. We recommend two hours after high tide allows the tide to be going out, sand and shingle drying out and gives more space on the beach.
  • Remember to buy sun creams for you and your pet before its too hot weather, apply before leaving home
  • Ensure your dog has ventilated space in your vehicle and also sunshades protecting them from direct sunlight

Before you travel you may like to use our useful Guides particularly if you are a new pet owner ‘Pet-Friendly Holidays’ and ‘Can Pets Travel For Free?’

Special Note

The recent pandemic has bought about new changes to the ways we do things. Post lockdown restrictions may require households not to travel in certain areas of the UK. Read the latest government advice. It’s advisable to check with your local council and social media websites before making special journeys. You may find that you are required to pre-book vehicle entry into popular beaches during the summer months.

Prices and information correct at time of writing. Images courtesy Visit Devon

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