Nothing beats a dog-friendly trip to the coast. In this post we explore the ten best activities to do with your dog if you are in or around Swanage.
1. Go to the beach
Swanage beach is one of the main attractions of the town. It’s beautifully sandy, with shallow waters and impressive views across Swanage bay. In 2018, the beach was awarded the European Blue Flag and Seaside Award for the 17th year in a row.
Dogs are welcome on Swanage beach between 1st October – 30th April each year.
From the 1st May – 30th September, dogs are not permitted on the Council-owned Central Beach. However, if you make make your way around the cliff to the left the beaches are private and eventually you will stop seeing ‘no dogs allowed’ signs and you are free to let them play. Dogs are also welcome to use ‘Monkey Beach’ which is located by the old stone quay, close to the pier.
Top tip: I would recommend visiting the beach in the evening (after 7pm) or off-season – it’s a completely different atmosphere to the busy summer days and really rather magical.
2. Walk the coastal path
Swanage lies at the very eastern point of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. There are plenty of walks to choose from, whether you want an easy cliff-top walk through Durlston Country Park, or something more challenging. Enjoy spectacular views of the sea, cliffs and the surrounding countryside.
Find routes and more information on the South West Coast Path website.
3. Hunt for dinosaur bones on the Jurassic Coast
Charmouth is the best and safest place for finding fossils on the Jurassic Coast. Dogs are allowed on West Beach after the end of the prom on a lead or on East Beach before 10am or after 6pm during July and August.
Will you find a broken belemnite? Or maybe your pooch will sniff out a dinosaur skeleton? Just remember to be a responsible fossil hunter and follow the Jurassic Coasts guidelines.
4. Get hot chocolate or a milkshake at Chococo
Tucked away in a secluded courtyard in the centre of the town, Chococo offers superb homemade hot chocolate made with a range of strengths (although their signature 70% Madagascar is hard to beat); coffee from Dorset-based Beanpress coffee roasters, Dorset Tea; and milkshakes made with local Purbeck ice cream.
The courtyard is the paw-feet place to refuel and get away from the crowds. Be sure to also visit their shop!
5. Sniff-out the best fish and chips in Swanage and eat them together on the pier
No trip to the seaside would be complete without a portion of local fish and chips, wrapped in paper and covered in salt and vinegar. And fish and chips doesn’t get better than at The Fish Plaice. Find them in The Square by the seafront (BH19 2LJ) and take your parcels along the front the the small pier opposite. You and your pup can watch the seagulls and people crabbing at the water’s edge.
6. Go for a dog-friendly boat ride
If you want to get closer to the sea, why not treat your sea-dog to a boat trip. For just £2 your dog can join you on either the 2 hour Jurassic Coastal Cruise or you can travel to Poole Quay in style on the Poole Day Cruise.
7. Enjoy a pint and a pasty at the Square and Compass
With only two options for food (pasty or veggie pie) and what must be one of the smallest bars in the UK, The Square and Compass Inn in Worth Matravers is most definitely worth a visit. Dogs will enjoy the garden with spectacular views, water trough, and meeting the famous resident dog on the roof.
8. Spend an afternoon around Blue Pool at Wareham
Spend a dreamy afternoon walking around the unique Blue Pool at Furzebrook. Very fine clay suspended in the water diffracts light in different ways, producing a spectrum of blues and greens that constantly changes.
Set in a deep clay bowl, you can either walk down to the waters edge or up to views of the Purbeck Hills. The Pool is also surrounded by 25 acres of heath, woodland and gorse interlaced with sandy paths.
9. Take your dog back in time on Swanage Railway
Give those paws a rest from all that walking and see some of Purbeck’s best sights on Swanage Railway? On the 12 mile return trip the historic steam locomotive will take you and your dog through the beautiful Purbeck countryside, including stunning views of William the Conqueror’s Corfe Castle.
Steam trains run most weekends throughout the year and daily from April to October.
10. Visit Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens
Take advantage of a great photo opportunity as your dog becomes a giant visiting a medieval town. Built to 1/20th scale, Corfe Castle Model Village depicts the village and castle as it was in 1646.
Dogs are allowed on a lead throughout the whole of Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens, including the tea room. There is a water bowl at the entrance to the gift shop and on the terrace in the garden.
Have you tried any of these? What are your favourite things to do in the area? Let us know in the comments below.