Dog friendly destinations

by Sara Barton, 3rd June 2024
Hart Fell Horseshoe Ridge, Moffat. Photo: @carol.scotland
Dog friendly destinations

Looking for that perfect escape to a hotel or B&B and want to take your four-pawed companion? The South of Scotland offers excellent adventures for people and canines alike and there are hotels, B&Bs and pubs more than happy to accommodate your four-legged friends. Here is the ultimate guide on where to go for walks, refuel in dog friendly establishments and curl up for a good night’s sleep, ready for another day of exploring!

The Rhins

Why here: Jutting out into the junction of the Solway Firth and the Irish Sea, the Rhins peninsula in Dumfries and Galloway offers stunning coastal walks for you and your canine companion. Views in every direction, the occasional lighthouse and some gorgeous beaches to discover await you.

Where to stay: Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel offers superb views, a restaurant and some interesting lighthouse history having been built by the relation of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson. Tigh Na Mara hotel is set on the edge of Luce Bay with miles of sand to explore and if you are an early bird, some gorgeous sunrises over the Galloway hills in the distance. Heading down the peninsula you could stop in at No 4 Portpatrick B& B in the heart of the picturesque seaside town of Portpatrick. Outside of town is Knockinaam Lodge, which features in John Buchan’s The 39 Steps and was the secret meeting place of Sir Winston Churchill and General Eisenhauer during the Second World War.

Where to walk: The Rhins of Galloway Coast Path is a new 83-mile signed circular coastal walk being launched later this year. There is plenty of variety and exploring different sections would be an excellent adventure – some of the new coastal walk will use exisiting pathways. So you can already head out to explore the Mull of Galloway, Killantrigan Lighthouse and much more.

Where to eat: All of the accommodations have dining options but if you are out and about you can stop at the Ship Inn at Drummore which is a friendly local pub offering food while the Crown Hotel in Portpatrick has superb harbour views. Take in the view on the outside terrace at the café close to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse while visiting the RSPB Mull of Galloway Reserve. And your dogs are welcome at Glenwhan Gardens and its coffee shop in Dunragit outside of Stranraer.

Stunning coastal views await along the Rhins peninsula. Photo: @pupspluswidow

Selkirk & the Valleys

Why here: There is plenty of fresh air to soak up as you explore this stunning part of the Borders. You and your four-legged friend can have plenty of adventures as you ascend hills for breathtaking views, enjoy woodland walks on historical estates and perhaps take a dip in the cooling waters of the lakes in the valleys. Add to this some excellent cuisine and you have a break made in heaven.

Where to stay: Choose the award-winning Cross Keys Inn at Ettrickbridge for a cosy inn with local food and rooms and the ideal location to explore the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys. Or there is the Philipburn Hotel offering a 4-star stay with 4 acres of Scottish woodland and gardens to explore. Not all rooms are pet friendly, so call ahead to check. Head into the Yarrow Valley and soak up the atmosphere at the old historic coaching inn at the The Gordon Arms Restaurant with rooms. The food has won awards for chef-proprietor, Bryn Jones.

Where to walk: For a superb view, hike up to the Three Brethern. Potter through the estate at Bowhill House where the Dandie Dinmont breed originates from, or enjoy the grounds of Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited dwelling, Traquair House. From near the Philipburn Hotel you can do the Salmon Leap walk along the Ettrick Water and head to the Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre. There are also walks aplenty around St Mary’s Loch in the Yarrow Valley.

Where to eat: All of the above welcome pets – if you’ve walked to the Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre, pop into the pet friendly Waterwheel Café. In the town proper, the Three Hills Coffee Co and The Fleece Bar and Kitchen both accept pets.

The Dandie Dinmont breed originates from Bowhill House estate, which offers a choice of excellent walks.

Castle Douglas & Dumfries

Why here: Experience the life of Robert Burns who lived, wrote and made merry in Dumfries. See the garden that inspired Neverland in the imagination of J.M. Barrie at Moat Brae and find the spot where Robert the Bruce committed murder to become King of Scotland! Foodie delights await in Castle Douglas, with its ‘Food Town’ moniker.

Where to stay: The Ernespie House Hotel and the King’s Arms Hotel are centrally located in Castle Douglas while Craigadam Country House Hotel offers a countryside setting not too far from the town. In Dumfries you can stay at the Cairndale Hotel with your dog, while the riverside of Friar’s Carse Hotel and its proximity to Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm will appeal to the poetically minded!

Where to walk: Take your dog on a walk through Dumfries on the Robert Burns trail and check out the statue of Burns with his own dog, Luath – you’ll note the Italian carver clearly had no idea what a Scot’s collie dog looked like!  You can visit the Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm just outside Dumfries and wander along the River Nith – surely a dog walk used by Burns in his time! In Castle Douglas the Carlingwark Loch Circular offers a scenic walk 3.5 miles. For a warm day where shade is required, wander the trails at 7stanes Dalbeattie Forest.

Where to eat: If you’ve decided on some active adventures at the Galloway Activity Centre, don’t worry, their café is dog friendly. Or if you’ve headed off to Dalbeattie Forest, the Laurie Arms pub could be great choice on the way back. Visit Sweetheart Abbbey and the Abbey Tearoom will welcome your pooch. Or head to the John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum and Visitor Centre with outside picnic tables where dogs are also welcome. And in Dumfries, the Easterbrook Hall cafe and gardens at the Crichton welcomes canine friends.

Statue of Robert Burns in central Dumfries with his dog Luath (meaning swift or rapid) at his feet.

Melrose & Kelso

Why here: The heart of the Borders offers ruined abbeys, historical Roman sites and finds and plenty of activities for everyone.

Where to stay: Try the Whitehouse Countryhouse for a bed and breakfast in the country or enjoy being in the midst of town at Burts Hotel. Stunning views of the River Tweed await at the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel. Experience the luxury of SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel with its golf course and spa – all welcome dogs – well behaved ones of course!

Where to walk: Do not miss an atmospheric walk along the Tweed around Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford. Near Kelso there are the grounds of Floors Castle to explore, as well as more ambles by the Tweed to enjoy. And don’t think you can’t enjoy a bit of culture – Trimontium Museum welcomes well-behaved dogs.

Where to eat: Ochiltree’s at Abbotsford allow dogs on the balcony. Try the Tempest Brewing Co after a long walk to quench your thirst. After a wander around Dryburgh Abbey head for St Boswell’s and a coffee and a book shop browse are in order at Mainstreet Trading Company – the Deli and Home departments are off limits though – too much good stuff at nose height for our four-legged pals!

Dogs welcome at the Trimontium Museum in Melrose.

Gatehouse of Fleet & Kirkcudbright

Why here: Woodlands and coast vie for your attention and provide plenty of variety in walks and scenery for any visitor. Kirkcudbright has attractions to keep any age amused from the Dark Space Planetarium to Dark Art Distillery, delis to galleries.

Where to stay: The Ship Inn in Gatehouse offers a pub stay, while the Murray Arms has been recently refurbished and offers a luxurious B&B experience for you and your pooch! Both the Garret Hotel and the Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright welcome dogs for overnight stays.

Where to walk: You are spoilt for choice for coastal or forest walks in this area. From Gatehouse of Fleet try Garries walk or venture into the Cally Estate. In Kirkcudbright try the shorter version of the Torr’s Point Walk for a good chance to see the scenery and get those canine legs exercised too! Or for a stunning morning view of the town try the Senwick Shore walk. If you don’t mind a wee drive, head up Screel Hill for stunning views over the Solway Firth.

Where to eat: Any of the above places to stay offers food and you can also try the Masonic Arms in Kirkcudbright.

Head up Screel Hill with your canines for superb views over the Solway Firth. Photo @xamy_adams.


Why here: The Berwickshire Coastal path is a huge draw with stunning coastal scenery, wild birds galore, the chance for some marine mammal spotting and the salt air whipping through your hair. So whether you’re on two legs or four, this is an area well worth exploring.

Where to stay: Choose the self-contained bed and breakfast Creel Cottage by the Sea, south of Eyemouth, or perhaps you’d prefer Priory View B &B in the village of Coldingham.

Where to walk: Aside from the Berwickshire Coastal Path (BCP), you can visit Paxton House, which is pet friendly and the grounds of Ayton Castle has woodland walks as well as a circular walk joining the BCP.

Where to eat: On a sunny day, head for the beer garden at the Allanton Inn while you are out and about exploring. The Hemelvaart Bier Café is a continental-style beer cafe serving food, craft beers from around the world, and locally roasted artisan coffee. Situated in Ayton, it’s ideal to quench your thirst after a walk nearby. In Eyemouth, drink in the view at the Tavern, which is situated on the sea front – serving locally sourced food & beers with weekly live music.

Everyone will enjoy the stroll along Coldingham Bay beach as part of the Berwickshire Coastal Path. Photo: Visit Berwickshire Coast, Jason Baxter