For Christmas and New Year 2017 we decided to take Wanderdogs Lucy and Sisi out of London for the ultimate extended trip to bonny Scotland!
We discovered what a wonderfully dog friendly country Scotland is! So if you are looking for a great holiday for your furry sidekick to join you, with stunning scenery, fantastic hikes and yummy food - here is a little diary of our experience finding some of the best dog friendly spots of Scotland!
Journey to Scotland
We left very early on the morning of the 23rd, much to my partner's dismay, to begin our 7+ hour car journey to Edinburgh.
Our original idea of stopping for breakfast at the: https://www.thefoxandhoundsgrantham.co.uk/ (a dog friendly country pub near Grantham, roughly 2 hours from central London) was foiled by the fact I didn’t think to check what time they open! We got there just a few hours early! So we quickly grabbed something quick to eat, and gave the dogs a little leg stretch, before getting to our main lunch stop The Brandling Villa https://brandlingvilla.com/ .
This is an extremely dog friendly pub near Newcastle upon Tyne, which we highly recommend! As well as great human food and atmosphere, it even has a dog menu, including Sunday dinner and Pig Ear Tacos. Lucy and Sisi were very pleased to get their own roast dinners when our food arrived! If so inclined they could have also chosen to have some dog beer from the bar too! The most amazing thing is that all well behaved dogs are allowed to roam free through the pub, so Lucy and Sisi were very happy not to be attached to our table and took full advantage of adventuring across the sofas, and to say hello to the other punters!
Once we arrived in Edinburgh, we went to our lovely Airbnb which luckily for us and the dogs was located right on the edge of Hollyrod Park. Our living room window looked out on to expansive fields and the famous climb up to Arthur’s seat. It was so easy to take the dogs for a walk here.
On Christmas eve, we went to The Caley Sample Room (http://thecaleysampleroom.co.uk/) for lunch (a little far from where we were staying - but meant the dogs had a good walk to get there!) They were offered a water bowl and free dog biscuits on arrival, and we enjoyed our food.
We caught a bus back into town and walked the dogs through the Christmas markets and across town, before heading back for home – two tired dogs for sure!
On Christmas day, we had a quiet one in, but did go for a very rainy, wet, hike up Arthurs Seat. The views are usually very good from up here, and you should be able to see much more of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see too far due to the weather, but it was still a fun hike up!
On Boxing Day, we packed and left early to travel across the Forth Road Bridge to Cairngorns National Park, stopping at Rothiemurchus (http://rothiemurchus.net/) . We walked around the beautiful Loch an Eilein, before continuing onto our dog friendly hotel and spa in Inverness - https://kingsmillshotel.com/. You’re allowed up to two dogs to stay, and they have a nice walking area around the grounds. Dogs, however, are not allowed in the bar, restaurant or games room.
In the evening we went for a lovely meal at Scotch & Rye Bar Diner
http://www.scotchandrye.co.uk/ , a place in central Inverness with good service, food, wine and an extensive and exciting cocktail list. They also provided water and free biscuits for the dogs.
The next morning we decided to take a trip to the Isle of Skye. This was a beautiful car journey, but we were slightly impeded by crazy snow conditions on the way there, and especially the way back! I think we saw 4 cars abandoned in snowy ditches! On the way there, we also stopped at Eilean Donan Castle to do a walk, and admire the views. Then in Portree, the largest town on the island, we found a lovely little pet shop that sells black pudding dog treats (that the dogs absolutely loved!)
We went for lunch at the Isle Inn, where I tried vegetarian haggis (yes – that’s a thing!) http://www.accommodationskye.co.uk/. They also provided the dogs with water and free biscuits - seems to be a common theme!
When we eventually (and very slowly) made it back to Inverness, we stopped at the The Clachnaharry Inn, which has been rewarded by Dugs n’ Pubs as the most dog-friendly pub/restaurant in Inverness 2013 (http://www.clachnaharryinn.co.uk/). Apparently they provide towels, biscuits and Christmas presents for their canine customers, we just got water and biscuits this time – we were a bit late after Christmas!
The next day we went for a beautiful cruise across Loch Ness with Jacobite Cruises – also dog friendly! (https://www.jacobite.co.uk/)
We went for lunch in central Inverness at the Black Isle Bar (http://www.blackislebar.com/), a craft beer and wood-fired pizza joint, that uses organic ingredients from their farm and local suppliers, it also has 12 en-suite bedrooms available all year - very dog friendly!
We then went for a walk around Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre. I read previously that dogs are not allowed off lead here, but a signboard at the location states that you can as long as you can keep them close with you and under control. However, dogs aren’t allowed in the visitor centre. The walk, coupled with the sunset, was lovely and we learned a little more about the battle between the Scottish Jacobites and the British Government. Little tip – don’t park by the visitor centre, if you’re just going for a dog walk. You can park by the entrance for free and it’s a short walk over.
On the 29th we travelled from Inverness to Glasgow via the west coast, through Fort William and Glencoe. This was beautiful, and is an absolute must if you do this journey (don’t take the fast route motorway – you will miss out!)
We stopped for a hike around Ben Nevis to Steall Falls waterfall through the snow (https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/steallfalls.shtml). This was an awesome walk, despite the snowy weather and roller coaster drive to get there! Without a dog you can go further and closer to the waterfall, but to cross the river you have climb a bridge that is essentially an adult size children’s rope bridge. You hold on to two cables while scaling along another cable for your feet! Good luck getting dogs across that!
After the hike we came down to Fort William, also known as the outdoor capital of Scotland, for lunch at The Grog and Gruel – a great little pub in the middle of town. The views over the river to the mountains are spectacular here! (http://www.grogandgruel.co.uk/)
From here we drove across Ballachulish Bridge to Loch Leven, then onto Glencoe. If we had more time, and energy, this would have been a wonderful hiking spot. Instead we stopped for hot chocolates at Clachaig inn - https://www.clachaig.com/. It was then a stunning drive on through the snowy mountains, and The Trossachs National Park, and along Loch Lomond. It was a shame that towards the end it was dark already, as you could tell the views would have been immense!
We arrived at our last booked accommodation, in Glasgow, another pet friendly airbnb - https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/15985695
That night we attempted to go for dinner at Inn Deep, but as it was Friday night, it was too busy and quite small – however, I wish we could have made it back to this place for food as it does look awesome! They are super dog friendly too – with a dog section on their website: http://www.inndeep.com/dugs-of-inn-deep/
So instead we ended up at The Curlers Rest https://www.thecurlersrestglasgow.co.uk/ . When we got there the bouncer told us no dogs were allowed, but when I pointed out that on the sign next to him it said dog friendly, he was more than pleased to allow us all in. I guess he missed the memo as we were greeted with a water bowl and a plate full of dog biscuits! The food was also good here.
The next day we went to meet up with a fellow Victoria Stilwell Academy student, and Glaswegian, Kerri with her dog Wilson. To find her we walked from west Glasgow into the centre by following the rivers along and hitting some of the lovely green spaces they have in Glasgow (including Kelvin Grove). Together we went to a lovely and colourful dog friendly cafe for tea and cake called Once upon a tart - http://www.onceuponatart.co.uk/
After refueling, we went for a stroll across Glasgow Green, before leaving Kerri to try a recommended Brewery across the park for a quick glass of wine (neither of us enjoy beer – but the selection looked good if you like that sort of thing!) – West Brewery - https://www.westbeer.com/
From here we took a train back to the west side (note – the subway doesn’t allow dogs). Then for dinner we went to a wonderful restaurant with the most beautiful decor and incredible food, very well presented and tasty! A little more expensive than other places, but definitely worth it - https://www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk/
For our last day in Scotland we decided to, on recommendation from Kerri, travel outside of Glasgow and visit the Kelpie statues at the Helix. These are large horse heads sitting next to a river lock – they represent the horses that used to pull the boats through. We also visited the world’s only boat lift – The Falkirk wheel. Both were nice places to take a stroll with the dogs. Between these two attractions we stopped for lunch at The Shore - http://www.theshorefalkirk.co.uk/ a lovely pub where the dogs were also spoilt to water and biscuits!
For New Years Eve we decided to stay in and have a night cuddled up on the sofa with a Thai takeaway! I think the dogs were grateful for a quiet one in, especially for Lucy who is a little worried by fireworks!
Journey back to London
On our journey back, we were equally luckily with our first pit stop which was unfortunately closed for New Years, otherwise the Narrowboat in Penrith, Cumbria looks great - http://www.narrowbarcafe.co.uk/ Instead we popped to their Costa and sat outside with the dogs.
However, our main stop in Leamington Spa (which we realise now, was slightly out of the way for our journey!) but was good was thankfully open! The Royal Pug – http://www.theroyalpug.com/
Important Links to Dog Friendly Scotland!
For a nationwide guide to dog welcoming places in Scotland there is the Dugs n’ Pubs website - https://www.dugswelcome.com/
There are so many more dog friendly places in Glasgow that I was keen to try you can find many of them via these links:
Dog walk ideas in Glasgow: