Visit Dog Friendly Snowdrop Gardens

Banish grey days with your Greyhound and step into Spring 2012 with your Springer Spaniel by visiting one of Britain’s best snowdrop gardens with your dog.

North West

There are snowdrop walks daily (except Mondays) from 28th January to 11th March at Rode Hall in Cheshire www.rodehall.co.uk Dogs are welcome on leads.

North East

Wander through a carpet of snowdrops on a woodland walk in the grounds of Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire www.burtonagnes.com The Snowdrop Spectacular runs from 4th February to 4th March and dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds only.

South

The grounds of Welford Park in Berkshire www.welfordpark.co.uk are open Wednesday to Sunday from 26th January to view the Spring Gardens and magnificent carpets of snowdrops. Dogs are welcome on a lead in the park and in the outside tented area of the tearoom so you can stop for a cuppa with your dog after your walk.

Gatton Park in Surrey www.gattonpark.com is the core 260 acres of the Gatton estate and us made up of gardens and parkland. The park is open to see the snowdrops on the 5th and 12th February and the 4th March. There are also daily snowdrop tours on the week of the 13th February. Dogs on a lead are welcome in the park and gardens.

Dogs are welcome in the woodland grounds of Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire www.nationaltrust.org.uk from 1st November to 31st March.

South West

Every Saturday and Sunday in February is Snowdrop weekend at Forde Abbey in Devon www.fordeabbey.co.uk  The estate is very dog friendly as dogs on a lead are welcome in the garden and tearoom.

Many of the snowdrops at Hartland Abbey in Devon www.hartlandabbey.co.uk were planted hundreds of years ago and stretch from the Walled Gardens to the sea. Beautiful paths lead visitors around the gardens and through the woods to Blackpool Mill, a remote cove on the Atlantic coast. Dogs on leads are very welcome to come and enjoy their walkies on Snowdrop Weekend on 11th and 12th February.

There is a Park and Ride scheme from Wheddon Cross to Snowdrop Valley in Exmoor www.wheddoncross.org.uk to enable visitors to reach the valley without having to take their cars down the narrow country lanes that lead to it. Dogs are allowed on the bus at the driver’s discretion.

South East

The idyllic Gardens of Easton Lodge in Essex www.eastonlodge.co.uk are being restored to their former glory by a team of dedicated volunteers. Why not visit after your Sunday lunch on Snowdrop Sundays 19th and 26th February? Dogs on leads are welcome.

Midlands

Evenley Wood Garden in Northamptonshire www.evenleywoodgarden.co.uk is a 60 acre woodland garden set amongst the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside. The garden is open to see the snowdrops on 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th February. Dogs on a lead are welcome.

East

The display of naturalised snowdrops at Chippenham Park, Cambridgeshire www.chippenhamparkgardens.info is probably the finest in East Anglia. The many acres of woodland and lakeside gardens are carpeted with white for several weeks. Well behaved dogs are welcome on a lead.

The grounds of Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk www.walsinghamabbey.com are famous for the spectacular ruins of the mediaeval priory and an unrivalled display of snowdrops in nearly 20 acres of woodland in February. Dogs on leads are welcome and the grounds are open daily from 4th February to 4th March.

West

Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire www.snowdrop.org.uk has been called ‘England’s greatest snowdrop garden’ by Country Life. Now with a collection of 250 varieties, visitors can enjoy the snowdrops throughout the ten acre garden with its woodland and lakeside paths, the Spring Garden and Formal Garden, alongside drifts of cyclamen, hellebores and other winter plants. Open weekends from Saturday 4th February to Sunday 4th March. Dogs are welcome on a short lead.

The Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire www.rococogarden.co.uk has one of the largest naturalistic plantings of snowdrops in the country. There are many species of snowdrops including early flowering giant snowdrops. The garden is open daily and dogs are welcome on leads.

Scotland

There are 70 acres of woodland awash with snowdrops at Cambo Gardens in Fife, Scotland www.camboestate.com The snowdrops can be enjoyed from 1st February to 13th March and dogs are welcome on leads. Visitors can also book onto tours to see the Snowdrops by Starlight. These trips are very popular with families and run from 11th to 27th February.

Louise Dolan

Find places to stay and visit with your dog at www.roverrecommended.com

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All Dogs go to Devon

We usually go on holiday to Cornwall. This year we fancied a change and wondered whether we could find a slice of holiday heaven for us and our dog in Devon.

The first point in its favour is that it’s quicker to get to Devon, unless of course you already live in Cornwall.  And then why would you bother to leave Cornwall anyway?

That said, we were curious how Devon would fare against our main holiday criteria of good quality holiday accommodation with great pub grub and plenty of dog friendly places to visit nearby.

We settled on staying in rural isolation in a village called Shirwell in North Devon. During our stay we saw more sheep than people, which was fine by us. The cottage was really posh and spacious but had no internet access or phone signal so we were incommunicado for the duration of our stay. Unfortunately the water supply to the cottage was about as reliable as Keith Richards in charge of a free bar so showers were a bit of a hit and miss affair.

We found a couple of really dog friendly locals, where the food was good and we didn’t have to travel too far down the perilously narrow country lanes to get back to the cottage. These were the Muddiford Inn and the Pyne Arms, both near Barnstaple.

The seaside holds little attraction for my dog. She enjoys a quick paddle and then looks at you expectantly as if to say, “Fine but what are we going to do now?” She’s a
dog of mixed pedigree but on a walk the spaniel in her comes to the fore and all she wants to do is sniff and there are precious few decent smells near the sea as the tide comes to wash them away. We stumped up the obligatory extortionate parking fee at Woolacombe Bay and Saunton Sands and went for a walk along the seashore. We enjoyed our walks next to the sea and our dog cheered up considerably on the way back as we let her run free at the sand dunes at the back of the beaches, where rabbit odours abound.

North Devon has a surprising number of dog friendly gardens and they pretty much all seem to have great tea rooms so you are never more than ten minutes away from a coronary-inducing cream tea. Ambrosia weren’t wrong when they said, “Devon
knows how they make it so creamy”. Highlights of the gardens included a spectacular
woodland trail at Arlington Court, Barnstaple, tea on a beautiful lawned garden at Tapeley Park Gardens, Bideford and the choice of delightful walled gardens or seaviews at Hartland Abbey, Bideford.

My dog Holly was unequivocal in her holiday favourite. We visited Marwood Hill Gardens, Barnstaple, and no matter where we were in the garden or tea room she dragged us on her lead (like a dog who has never stepped a paw inside an obedience class) down to the lake. There she would sit for hours if we let her, watching the ducks and multi-coloured carp who swim over as soon as you stand or sit near the water.

It was an excellent choice though as for sheer relaxation and beauty it was our favourite place in Devon as well.

So will I change my holiday allegiance from Cornwall to Devon? They are both so good I think that I will have to visit them both again before I make up my mind… All I know is that my dog found doggy heaven in Devon this year.

Marwood Hill Gardens, Barnstaple

Louise Dolan

Find more dog friendly places to stay and visit at www.roverrecommended.com