There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit in Wiltshire, but not all of them accept dogs. Francesca Tyer lists 10 dog-friendly places for you to enjoy.
Before visiting any of these locations, please contact them or check their websites for the current access guidelines and latest visitor information.
Abbey House Gardens
Abbey House Gardens are located beside the Abbey Church and River Avon in Malmesbury. They stretch across a stunning five acres, containing a variety of roses and herbs and a knot garden. The gardens were part of a Benedictine monastery and are now maintained by the Pollards who took over the Abbey House in 1994.
Welcoming well-behaved dogs, Kristen Pollard, says: “Malmesbury is a popular dog walking town. Dogs are welcome to explore the estate providing they are on leads.”
Avebury Stone Circle
Avebury village rests within the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and Britain’s largest stone circle rise impressively from the henge which covers approximately three quarters of a mile. The outer stone circle contains two smaller circles and is hugely impressive.
You can wander through the landscape happily, remembering to clean up any mess. The National Trust’s Abby George says: “Dogs on a lead and under control are very welcome and can join you when you explore the henge and stone circles, the Old Farmyard and the shop and museum. However, only assistance dogs are allowed in Avebury Manor and garden or Circles Restaurant.
“We have an outdoor seating area and you’ll find water available at several points around the site. In the summer, we’re hoping to sell ‘doggie ice cream.’”
Crofton Beam Engines
If you’re planning a day out but don’t want to leave your dog, then this historic site is the perfect place to explore. It was built with the purpose of supplying water to the canal around 200 years ago and is set within the west Wiltshire countryside, close to Marlborough. “We welcome dogs in all parts of the grounds and on site,” says Simon Hobson, “however, we do not allow them in the café or the engine rooms because of all the machinery.”
Lacock Abbey, positioned in the centre of the village, is a beautiful building. It is a great place to explore with the family, and the good news is that your dog can come too. “Dogs are welcome in the abbey grounds in the winter season (1st November to 31st March). We ask that they are kept on a short lead at all times,” says Amy U’Ren.
Founded in 1229 by the third countess of Salisbury, the abbey has a rich history. It was dissolved between 1536 and 1541 and later became a country home. During the 19th Century, William Henry Fox Talbot, of the photographic negative fame, lived there.
Today, the Abbey House still boasts medieval cloisters, vaulted rooms and stunning gardens. “There are plenty of different places to explore with your dog,” Amy says. “From a woodland wander to wide open, level paths and lawns. Whilst dogs are not allowed into the cloisters or abbey rooms, guide dogs are welcome throughout the abbey.
“Both our courtyard tea-room and Stables Café have plenty of sheltered outdoor seating to sit with your dog.”
The ruins of Ludgershall Castle lie on the edge of Salisbury Plain. Built in the late 11th Century around Iron Age earthworks by Edward of Salisbury, the castle was conveniently placed on the local trading route between Marlborough and Winchester. It became property of the crown in 1100.
The castle now welcomes many visitors and dogs to the site which is rich in intrigue and architectural beauty. Matt Bulford, head of historic properties for the region, says: “Dogs are part of the family, and at English Heritage we want them to be able to enjoy historic days out too.”
This house, with its beautiful walled garden and parkland, is the ancestral home of the Viscounts Bolingbroke. You can stroll across the garden lawns, through woodland and enjoy some lakeside scenes before entering the playground and café area. The park itself is dog-friendly, but there are restrictions in the play area, fields, house and walled garden.
Two miles from the present city of Salisbury, this Iron Age hill fort is the site where the first cathedral famously once stood before it was moved to Salisbury in 1226. The site, featuring its ruined castle and the foundations of the original cathedral, is a popular dog walking location. Matt Bulford says: “Old Sarum, Old Wardour Castle, and Ludgershall Castle are some of the Wiltshire sites where well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome.
“All have beautiful landscapes and dramatic ruins to explore, making them the perfect spot for a memorable walk with your furry friend.”
Whether local to Salisbury or just visiting, this site is a great place to visit with sweeping 360 degree views, especially toward New Sarum and the next entry on our list.
Salisbury Cathedral is the mother church to hundreds of Wiltshire and Dorset churches and is also a centre of pilgrimage for many visitors, including a number of dogs. “Salisbury and the Cathedral Close welcome thousands of dogs annually, from home and abroad,” says Marie Thomas.
The cathedral towers above the city and is a spectacular historical monument, attracting many thousands of tourists each year. The beautiful architecture and rich history make it and intriguing place and being able to bring your dog is just an extra bonus.
Marie adds: “The number and variety of canines that use the Close is breath-taking, the only no-go area in the cathedral is the refectory restaurant, open only to assistance dogs.”
Extending a warm welcome to all canine companions, canon Robert Titley, says: “God’s welcome goes beyond those of us on two legs – as long as our four-legged friends are well-behaved, stay on the lead and clean up after themselves.”
Stourhead Estate boasts a beautiful 18th Century garden, located on the Wiltshire/Somerset border. Temples and lakeside walks can be enjoyed by visitors, as well as the woods in the wider landscape, and if you are brave enough you can also climb up King Alfred’s Tower.
Charlotte Toop from The National Trust says: “Dogs are welcome in the landscape garden every day during the quieter winter months and after 2pm in the main season (mid-March to mid-November). We simply ask that they are kept on a short leads. Whilst they are not allowed into the house or garden temples, guide dogs are welcome throughout the property.”
The Peto Gardens at Iford Manor
These stunning, award-winning gardens are nestled in the River Frome Valley. They were created by Harold Peto, who lived in Iford manor between 1899-1933 and today are a wonderful place to spend a day with your dog.
Marianne Cartwright Hignett says: “Our furry friends are very much part of people’s families. We’ve never really had an issue with dogs being on site as long as people are respectful. We are grateful when people do clean up.” The gardens are open between April and September.