If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for new places where you and your four-legged friends can enjoy unforgettable adventures together. Well, let me tell you, Barnard Castle is the dog-friendly location you’ve been dreaming of! Barnard Castle is a charming and historic market town situated on The River Tees in County Durham, famous of course not only for its majestic castle but in more recent folklore as a destination to test your eyesight!
Around the town there are numerous dog friendly shops, cafes and pubs but the the real adventure lies beyond the town’s charming streets. Barnard Castle is a gateway to Teesdale and there are hikes and walks there to suit every type of canine explorer.
If hiking isn’t your thing or you are like me and like to mix things up a bit, there’s no shortage of dog friendly attractions in the Barnard Castle area, even the castle itself is dog friendly!
Read on to find our recommendations for dog friendly places to visit in this picturesque area.
Dog Friendly Attractions in Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle: If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve probably gathered that I love visiting historic buildings and so it probably comes as no surprise that I have visited the towns namesake, Barnard Castle several times over the years. Managed by English Heritage, this historic fortress welcomes dogs on leads, and its obviously a must visit! On our most recent trip we arrived too late to actually look round the castle but my dogs didn’t mind, because outside where I took this picture for the blog there were literally dozens of rabbits on the green, which was understandably more interesting for them.
Raby Castle is a magnificent medieval fortress surrounded by beautiful parkland. Dogs on leads are welcome in the Deer Park and the Yurt Cafe, but not in the castle itself or the woods. Still it’s lovely to wander round and admire the castle from outside and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.
High Force Waterfall: Located in Forest-in-Teesdale, High Force is a spectacular waterfall and a must-visit natural wonder in the region. Dogs on leads are welcome both on the walk and in the hotel, if you just want to see High Force, you park in the hotel car park (£3.00 for 3 hours) and it’s just a short walk to the waterfall, you can make it a circular walk by returning via the woods. I actually had not visited High Force since before the storms of 1992 so the well maintained walkway was a bit of a surprise, but it is still an amazing site, and once you reach the falls you’ll be mesmerised. There is an admission charge of £3.00 per person to take this route to the falls but check out the dog walks section of this post for my alternative and free suggestion.
Eggleston Hall Gardens: Just a short drive from Barnard Castle, Eggleston Hall Gardens is a delightful horticultural haven. Dogs on leads are allowed in the gardens, enabling you to meander through and admire the beautiful displays of flowers. There is also a dog friendly cafe here. Admission is just £2.50 and it’s a lovely place to spend an hour or two.
Egglestone Abbey is another property managed by English Heritage, but this one is free to all. Despite its name it is not near the gardens, in fact you can walk to it from Barnard Castle town, it’s a scenic stroll that takes you along the River Tees and there’s ample opportunity for pooches to wet their paws. You can also drive there if you’d rather but one small thing to be aware of is that there is a sign stating that the car park is free, but there is a plaque on the fence advising that there is a charge, so not really sure what the score is there, but anyway the walk is a classic and your dog will love it!
Dog Walks Near Barnard Castle
Hury Reservoir Circular Walk Recently its become a bit of a tradition that our first dog walk of the trip has to be near water, and when we visited Barnard Castle we chose to do the Hury Reservoir walk first. This 3.7 mile circular route offers stunning views of the reservoir and surrounding countryside and there is a wealth of birdlife to admire. There was also a lot of sheep, another thing to bear in mind is that there is no dog swimming (or human for that matter) allowed, I guess for safety reasons. It’s a flat and easy walk but not really suitable for anyone else but walkers.
Low Force and HIgh Force Waterfall Walk: Bowlees Visitor Centre is the start point for a really stunning walk where you not only get to see both Low Force and High Force waterfalls but can also test your nerve by walking over the wynch bridge. The route offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and is around 4 miles there and back, but if you want to try and get a nice picture of your dog with the waterfall you really have to take the paid option I wrote about further up the post.
Parking at Bowlees is ‘Donate and Display’ and there is also a fabulous dog friendly cafe to grab a coffee and piece of cake at. You can also take a short stroll from the visitor centre and admire Summerhill Force/Gibson’s Cave, I feel like it would be quite impressive after some heavy rain but when we went it was a bit sleepy haha.
Teesdale Railway Path: This walk follows the old railway line from Cotherstone to Middleton-in-Teesdale. This flat and accessible path is perfect for a leisurely stroll with your dog, offering lovely views of the River Tees. The whole walk there and back is around 11 miles, but it’s so easy on the paw and so interesting it really doesn’t feel far at all, plus you can always just walk as far as you want and then turn back!
Cotherstone Circular Walk: Another great dog walk, that starts from Cotherstone, this walk takes you through scenic woodlands, fields, and along the River Tees, and there is the opportunity to go off piste and explore some caves.
I do recommend using an app like All Trails or consulting this excellent walk description from This is Durham for this one as it is easy to take the wrong route at times. Well, really you should always research a route and take a map and compass with you, but I am guilty of winging it on occasion and making the walk a lot longer than it needs to be! Still I think my dogs love me for it, haha. Anyway when we did this walk it took us around 6 hours when it should have taken maybe 4 or 5?
Cauldron Snout Circular One of my favourite dog walks in Teesdale is the Cauldron Snout Circular and it was my spaniels favourite as well, due to the all you can eat buffet of sheep poop along the route! The walk starts at Weelhead Sike car park (another donate one) and there is an information board that shows you the routes, we walked down the service road through the nature reserve and turned left onto the Pennine Way to the waterfall. We then had to negotiate a bit of a scramble down to the the track which as you make your way along it is interspersed with plank board walks and a couple of boulder fields, my spaniels seemed intent on tripping me up crossing these! Some parts were a bit boggy so that just added to the fun as far as my girls were concerned. Anyway eventually you hit the road and it’s a bit of a trudge up hill back to the car park, the road is very quiet so nothing to worry about with dogs. The walk is about 7.5 miles and well worth doing but if you just want to see the Snout (which is way more impressive than my image of the start of it below, but I like to keep my dogs safe when taking pictures) you can do a there and back through the nature reserve, which according to the info board is around 5km.
Barnard Castle boasts some of the best dog-friendly shops pubs and cafes I’ve ever been to, especially in terms of the quality of the food! In fact we often call in to this little town on our travels just to eat, or buy a loaf of bread at the Rise Artisan Bakehouse. However in this post I’m going to tell you about just one, The Old Well Inn which is our favourite watering hole in the town. The pub has a really friendly atmosphere, a fantastic beer garden, full of flowers and plants,and the staff are super friendly and genuine dog lovers. We love that The Old Well welcomes dogs inside and out and that it serves ales that are actually brewed in Barnard Castle, There is an eclectic selection of food on offer to eat in and take-away including Chinese and Fish and Chips. The staff at the pub are such big dog lovers that they even have a ‘Pooch Gallery’, apparently if you email them a photo of your dog at The Old Well Inn they will feature them on their Instagram page.
Have a great time if you find yourself in the Barnard Castle/Teesdale area, it really is a fabulous area to visit with your dog..
Love Sal, Maya and Lucia xxx