To all my fellow ramblers in lockdown or living under COVID restrictions, I hope that you’re doing ok. COVID has disrupted everyone’s lives and highlighted how important family, friends, your health and mental health are. However, if you’re like me you’re longing to travel, explore and experience new places. So, instead of dwelling in self-pity I have started planning UK dog-friendly weekend trips for whenever we are next allowed to travel. In this post you will find plans for four dog-friendly Cotswolds weekends. Make sure that you share this post with friends on Pinterest and subscribe for all future posts!
About the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are the largest area of outstanding beauty in the UK (approximately 800 miles). It’s history dates back to the Romans (47 AD) who built major roads like Fosseway and the towns such as Cirencester. It is popular with tourists who want to see the gorgeous golden stone buildings and rolling hills.
I struggled to find a definitive map of the Cotswolds and so am relying on the information from www.cotswolds.com, which lists 38 cities, towns and villages. See the full list with relevant links and helpful details in ‘Cotswolds places’ section below. That’s a lot to try and fit into a weekend! To help with planning we’ve excluded Bath, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa and Chippenham as these are worth a whole visit themselves.
Take care of your dog
Before we go any further, please note that we recommend some long walks (up to 10 miles) involving some hills and off-lead running opportunities for your pooch. You should only do the distances and the routes that are best for you and your dog, and take breaks whenever you or your dog need to. We are big fans of AllTrails where you will be able to find lots of different routes in most of the places that we cover below. Please remember to pack appropriately for you and your pooch including water and snacks. Speak to your dog’s vet if you have any concerns.
Dog-friendly rambling weekends
These weekend trips (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) exclude cities, as they’re usually worth a full visit, and include places within one hour’s drive of the base. We will recommend dog-friendly places to eat, but please remember that this is a difficult time for the hospitality industry and so we cannot promise that these places will still be open once the restrictions are lifted. Double check before you travel.
Choosing a base
A base is the place where you stay. Of course you could travel and stay in different places, but I find that using one base for both nights saves time with backing and unpacking. Plus it’s more settling for your dog. We prefer a base that has a bit to offer for an evening meal, local amenities (I always forget something) and entertainment.
Dog-friendly Cotswolds Trip 1
Bourton-on-the-water – the Venice of the Cotswolds
Arrive, unpack and explore Bourton-on-the-water. Take your time to explore the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ and its numerous dog-friendly attractions (including the birdland park and gardens). We recommend dinner at The Croft where well behaved dogs are welcome.
Get up early and walk this 10.4 mile route. It takes you from Bourton-on-the-Water to Stow-on-the-Wold and back again via the picturesque Lower Slaughter. We recommend that you stock at The Old Stocks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold for lunch.
For dinner, drive to Burford village and eat at one of the dog-friendly eateries. Make sure that you save time to explore Burford’s medieval bridge and ancient town houses.
Get up early and drive to Broadway Tower (the highest castle in the Cotswolds) with pit (picture) stops on the way in these gorgeous villages: Guiting Power, Snowshill and Broadway.
After a walk around the Broadway Tower grounds, drive to the thriving town Moreton-in-marsh, via Blockley, for lunch.
After lunch drive to Chipping Norton to explore the town and take your pooch for a final 2.8 mile walk before driving home.
Dog-friendly Cotswolds Trip 2
Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of Shakespeare
Arrive, unpack and explore Stratford-upon-Avon starting with this short (1.5 miles) riverside route.
Have lunch at one of the dog-friendly places to eat – this is a good resource for finding places. After lunch, take your dog on a dog-friendly walking tour such as the Stratford Town walk or the scarier Stratford Ghost walk.
Get up and drive to Mickleton (via the idyllic Illmington for a picture stop) and walk this 5.2 mile route towards around Hidcote Manor (unfortunately not dog-friendly). After your walk, drive to Chipping Campden town for lunch at one of their many dog-friendly eateries.
Dog-friendly Cotswolds Trip 3
Cirencester – the capital of the Cotswolds
Arrive, unpack and explore Cirencester. Take your time to explore the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’ and grab a bite to eat.
After the walk, drive through historic Fairford and Lechlade for some pretty pictures and arrive in Malmesbury for an afternoon of stroll around the Abbey and the town. Lots of dog-friendly cafes for afternoon tea. We recommend the Old Bell Hotel Refectory.
If you’re not too tired, you could stop at the Cotswolds Water Park on the way back to Cirencester for the evening.
After lunch drive to Tetbury and wander around the beautiful historic town. Unfortunately neither The Royal Gardens at Highgrove (home of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall) nor Chavenge House are dog-friendly, but you can take your pooch for a good run at the nearby Westonbirt Arboretum before heading home.
Dog-friendly Cotswolds Trip 4
Spend the day exploring Blenheim Palace including the various walks, the pleasure gardens, the East Courtyard and café, and on the old estate Coombe Mill working industrial museum (dog-friendly)! If you visit in July, check out the dog show ‘Paws at the Palace‘.
Drive to Burford village for brunch, at one of their dog-friendly eateries, and explore Burford’s medieval bridge and ancient town houses.
Then, drive to Minster Lovell to visit the Minster Lovell Hall, the beautiful ruins of a 15th century manor house. If you and your pooch have enough energy, you could walk from Burford to Minster Lovell using this 10.3 mile circular loop.
It took a while to build a picture of the Cotswolds without a user-friendly map. I pulled together the below to help me. You might find it useful in planning your own trips!
- Castle Combe
- Chipping Campden
- Chipping Norton
- Cotswold Water Park
- Guiting Power
- Minster Lovell
- Lower Slaughter
Click here for the list of places mentioned in www.cotswolds.com, excluding Bath, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa and Chippenham.
Leave us a comment – Which is your favourite weekend trip? Are you planning on visiting the Cotswolds? If you’ve been, where would you recommend?