The Dog-Lover's Itinerary - Explore our sunny slice of West Sussex with your dog
What better way to explore the beautiful landscapes in our part of West Sussex – from the Downs to the dunes – than with your best friend by your side? There’s no need to leave your canine companion in kennels when you take a break here. Our two-day itinerary not only highlights great places to eat, sleep and visit where you and your dog will both be welcome, but suggests activities and packages specifically tailored for four-legged visitors.
Of course, as with anywhere, when out and about you’ll need to follow any local bylaws or entry requirements regarding use of a lead. West Sussex has several wildlife conservation areas, including important breeding grounds, so regulations are often in place to protect birds and animals, and minimise disturbance to natural habitats.
Why not plan your visit to coincide with Goodwoof in May, there’s fun to be had for the whole family, especially your four-legged friend, including working dog displays, have-a-go activities, wellness advice, doga (yoga for dogs), Fido's Lido, and the ‘Barkitecture’ best kennel designs.
Itinerary: Day 1
Immerse yourself in the rural life of the past
Fans of BBC’s The Repair Shop will already be familiar with the Weald & Downland Living Museum as the location for TV’s ace fixers to show their traditional skills. But there is so much more to this immersive experience of bygone rural life and crafts.
The Living Museum is comprised of more than 50 rural buildings, some dating back to medieval times, salvaged from around the UK and lovingly restored. Tucked into woodland landscape or clustered in intimate hamlets are, amongst other gems, a cruck-framed hall, Tudor farmhouse, 17th century watermill, and plethora of thatched cottages waiting for you to explore. Reconstructed interiors and period gardens offer a window back in time, while cookery demonstrations and crafts workshops provide inspiration for the present and help retain knowledge for the future.
Wander the 40 acre site at your leisure, or follow themed trails, but keep your dog on a short lead so as not to disturb the resident farm animals.
Enjoy lunch on the deck of the museum’s dog-friendly waterside cafe or pre-book a picnic hamper.
Explore the deer park in Petworth Park
The rolling grounds of Petworth House were laid out in the late 18th century by England’s most celebrated landscape architect, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The go-to designer of his day, he is renowned for popularising the naturalistic landscape – albeit one artificially constructed with serpentine lakes, carefully planted copses and studiously positioned classical temples.
Dogs are permitted in the deer park and pleasure gardens, but must be kept away from the deer, and on the lead during the fawn season (late May to August).
Unfortunately only assistance dogs are permitted inside the baroque manor house, though you will still be able to appreciate the seamless view of the west facade from across the lake – another picture-postcard setup engineered by Brown.
Opening times: The Deer park is open 8am-8pm in Summer, and till 6pm in Winter.
A dog-friendly place to rest your heads
The Welldiggers Arms is a cosy country pub overlooking the Downs can be found on the edge of the pretty, and appropriately named, town of Petworth. The Welldiggers is as happy hosting cocktail tastings as shooting parties, and perfectly positioned for exploring the South Downs.
All rooms are dog-friendly (at £15 per dog) but you could go one better and opt for the special Muddy Paws package, which includes fizz, steak dinner and breakfast for two humans, plus a sausage and treats for the dog. They even serve a ‘doggy beer’.
Enjoy a run or cycle with your canine teammate
Cross country running or biking with your canine teammate is becoming a popular pastime for those who want to share their sport with their pet. Chichester Parkrun (Saturdays 9am, Oaklands Park) welcomes participants with one dog as long as they are kept under control on a short lead or harness. Alternatively hook up with the South Downs & Coastal Canicrossers to get some local tips and insight (link here). For CaniSport equipment and canine supplies (including dog lifejackets and neoprene booties), pop in to Purple Paw in Chichester, run by Dog Sport enthusiast Jenni of K9 Fitness.
A refuel with a view
Enjoy the view out over Chichester Harbour (an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) while tucking into a restorative all-day brunch of huevos rancheros or a full English at The Boathouse Café. Plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available, too, as well as a full lunch and dinner menu.
A walk on the beach
This part of the world is blessed with a stunning coastline so it would be a shame to leave without enjoying a brisk walk by the sea. However, the shore and harbour area also home to a rich array of wildlife, including many birds and seals, causing a large part of it to be classed Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). When walking with your dog it is therefore essential to check and respect the local bylaws, which vary for different locations and at different times of the year, and to ensure your dog is kept on a lead and away from wildlife.
Other Great Places to Eat and Stay with your pooch:
There’s a whole range of dog-friendly eateries across our district, pretty much everywhere in Midhurst and lots of places in Chichester including Luckes, The Angel Inn in Petworth or Halfway Bridge and Farmer, Butcher, Chef as well as the café at West Dean Gardens. If would probably be easier to list the places that don't welcome dogs.
Your dog will be warmly welcomed at these plenty places to stay across the district as well, including The Angel Inn (Midhurst). Have a look here for further inspiration.
The following websites also list cottages, hotels and B&Bs in the area where dogs are welcome
There are plenty of great places to enjoy walking with your dog.