A compilation of the dog friendly places that we visited with Elsa on her first trip to The Lake District!
Although we were only there for a few days, we packed as much as possible into our time there; from sightseeing to shopping, eating and walking, we certainly made the most of our short break...
Lunch at The Black Labrador | Underbarrow LA8 8HQ | Cumbria
We came across this delightful pub completely by chance, and the timing couldn't have been better because we were starting to get really hungry on the drive up to The Lakes! The entire ground floor is dog friendly, including the new extension built onto the side. There is a very cosy bar inside the main entrance, but we decided to sit in the larger restaurant area where Elsa had lots of room to make herself comfortable. The food was absolutely delicious - just what we needed. Although we didn't see any other dogs in the pub, we were told that the owners are very fond of their black Labradors, so when they renovated the pub they decided to change the name to pay homage to this special breed, and we're very pleased that they did, otherwise we may not have stopped here!
Castlerigg Stone Circle | Castle Ln, Underskiddaw, Keswick CA12 4RN
Our first full day in The Lake District began with a visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle. This English Heritage site is free to explore and dog friendly, although they must be kept on leads and at a reasonable distance away from the grazing sheep. The structure is believed to have been constructed in around 3000 bc, making it one of the oldest stone circles in Britain.
Keswick | Cumbria
We headed into Keswick to do a bit of holiday shopping and grab a bite to eat. Elsa was in her element as she strolled the streets with us, stopping to sniff 'hello' to as many pooches as possible!
There is a specialist dog shop called Podgy Paws in Keswick! They sell all sorts of things including toys, treats, food and a huge range of accessories. This shop also acts as a 'dog tourist information centre', they even have a Dog Friendly Guide book available for a £1 donation and we'd highly recommend picking up a copy of this if you are planning on exploring Keswick and the surrounding areas with your dog.
This market town is incredibly paw friendly with most of the shops, restaurants and pubs opening their doors to welcome dogs - it's actually been voted as Britain's most dog friendly town several times!
Here are a few of our favourite shops in Keswick:
Ironically, we ended up eating lunch at one of the few cafe's in Keswick that isn't dog friendly inside: Bryson's. (We were drawn in by the amazing looking cakes and freshly made sandwiches!) Fortunately they have a large seating area outside and Elsa was quite happy to settle by the table and watch all the other dogs that were passing by. The sun even made an appearance for us while we ate lunch!
We couldn't go to The Lake District without visiting Windermere, the largest natural lake in England!
The drive from Keswick to Windermere along the A591 gave us breathtaking views of Thirlmere and Helvellyn. When we arrived at our destination we parked at Cockshott Point and walked along the Promenade into Bowness-on-Windermere where we did some more shopping!
Our favourite dog friendly shop was Love the Lakes where we picked up a few souvenirs and gifts.
Our final stop of the day was at Glencoyne Bay on the West shore of Ullswater.
There is a National Trust car park by the bay, and you can access the Aira Force Glencoyne Farm trail from this side of the road. We did explore this area briefly, but we didn't have enough time for a proper walk on this visit so we spent some time by the lakeside with Elsa instead. She loved paddling in the fresh, clear water.
Sadly, we didn't go to Aira Force on this trip but this is definitely somewhere that we want to return to with Elsa... there are a couple of dog friendly hotels dotted around Ullswater that we've got our eye on - watch this space!
On our second day in The Lake District we set sail aboard an Ullswater Steamer.
There was a chill in the air and the rain clouds were looming as we boarded Lady Wakefield in Glenridding, so we opted to sit inside at first. However, once we were on the lake we decided to brave the elements and ventured out onto the open deck at the front where we found it was a lot warmer than we expected! We met a lovely group from The Outward Bound Trust, who were on their way to Howtown after spending a night out camping. They were a lively bunch and kindly made room for Elsa on the bench at the front of the deck. At Howtown a gorgeous little Scottish Westie called Wallace joined us for the remaining trip to Pooley Bridge. Elsa seemed to be enjoying making lots of new friends!
Granny Dowbekins | Pooley Bridge, Ullswater, Cumbria CA10 2NP
One of the reasons that we decided to visit Pooley Bridge was so that we could go to Granny Dowbekins! This dog friendly tea room is within easy walking distance from the pier where we disembarked from the Ullswater Steamer, on the other side of the bridge as you head towards the centre of the village. They have a very large dog friendly seating area inside and we managed to find a table easily.
The menu has a great selection of things to eat from hearty meals to afternoon teas and they also have a huge range of freshly baked cakes. We ordered the afternoon tea and I'm ashamed to say that we couldn't finish it, but we did have our cakes boxed up so that we could take them away with us - waste not, want not!
They offer a couple of options for dogs too, including meat chunks, biscuits and dog beer, although Elsa was more interested in catching up on some sleep than eating so we let her rest while we indulged.
Lakeland Motor Museum | Backbarrow, Ulverston LA12 8TA
Our final stop in the Lake District was at this charming, dog friendly museum. Elsa was in good company because there were LOTS of other dogs there, in fact it seemed to be a very popular place indeed! There are a range of interesting exhibits including an entire section dedicated to Sir Malcolm and his son Donald Campbell, who set the land and water speed records several times. (A few of the land speed records were actually set at Pendine Sands in South Wales where we also happened to visit earlier this year!)
Although the museum's website states that dogs are not allowed in Café Ambio, we were delighted to see a sign on the door saying that dogs on leads were indeed welcome, so we headed in to get a hot drink and some lunch.
The food was far beyond our expectations, in fact it was the best grilled chicken burger I've had in a long time! I'd also highly recommend the 'Hot Chocolate 99' - it's actually ice cream floating on a bed of marshmallows above the chocolate drink - absolutely divine!
Where we stayed
Rowanburn Lodge | Greystoke near Penrith
This cabin was an ideal base for our Lake District adventures!
The description said that "the area is a haven for wildlife, including red squirrels, hares, roe deer and many species of birds. There is a red squirrel box on the decking with food for the friendly squirrels to feast on." I'll be honest; I don't know what I was expecting before we arrived...perhaps a fleeting glimpse of a squirrel's tail? Maybe some rabbits? But the area surrounding the cabin was absolutely teeming with wildlife and more red squirrels than we could keep track of! We saw one within half an hour of arriving and so we quickly replenished the nuts in the feeder in the hope of seeing another. Sure enough, the squirrels came out in force! Elsa spent most of her time watching their antics, running from the patio to the side window and then to the door and back again, following their every movement around the cabin. Although they were a little wary at first, they seemed to start getting closer to the windows every time they ran past, as if they were teasing her. It was comical.
Aside from the wildlife, we were very impressed with how well stocked the cabin was with everything that we needed for a comfortable stay. It was also immaculately clean, we struggled to find even a speck of dust! The owners were very helpful and made sure that we had everything that we needed prior to, and during our stay.
We loved our visit to The Lake District but there are so many things to do there that we feel like we didn't even scratch the surface! Luckily we only live a couple of hours away so hopefully this was the first of many visits to this spectacular area with Elsa...
If anyone can recommend any great dog friendly places in The Lake District please tell us in the comments below!