A dog's guide to Scotland

#30DaysOfScotland, Days out, Pet friendly, Rural

Posted by Clare on 21st July 2020

The vast Scottish landscape encompasses all variety of habitats, from wildlife-rich moorlands to magical forests, waiting to be traversed by you and your four-pawed pup. Venture out on long walks, uncover ancient sites and unwind in your perfect paw-friendly cottage in Scotland. 

We’ve sniffed out all of the best spots to visit when travelling to Scotland on a dog-friendly holiday so you can spend exciting days out and about with your dog by your side every step of the way. Take a look through our collection of dog-friendly holiday cottages in Scotland to book your escape or read on to begin planning an unforgettable break. 

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Dogs can race about, sniff out wildlife trails and splash through streams as you discover the seemingly never-ending paths of the remarkable Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We wanted to narrow it down a bit, but this corner of Scotland is such a wonderful place for dogs and their owners, we had to include the entire thing! 

Things to do:

Within the area the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park offers some interesting trails to follow around sparkling lochs, and at Argyll Forest Park you can spot deer and red squirrels among the craggy peaks and valleys. Don’t forget to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code when you’re out and about.

Facilities: There are five visitor centres throughout this vast and exquisite National Park with toilets, cafes and maps to wonderful walking trails. 

Highlight: Enjoy a dog-friendly cruise across the magical loch, a great way to take in the impressive scenery of this pet-friendly holiday destination. 

All Loch Lomond cottages

Culzean Castle, Maybole

We bet you’ve never seen a castle as magnificent as Culzean! It’s perched on a clifftop and has extensive grounds for you to stretch your legs. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to explore the inside with the dogs, but with so much to see in the grounds you’ll have no trouble keeping the whole pack occupied. There are stunning borders, lush woodland and beautiful coastal routes to wander around, and lots of new smells for playful pups to sniff out. 

Things to do:

Explore beaches, woodland and wonderful green spaces – perfect for a game of fetch! Enjoy a dog walk around the Swan Lake to see the swans, ducks and other birdlife, take in delightful views and pop into the visitor centre and craft shop. 

Facilities: Café, accessible parking, accessible toilets, picnic benches, play area, shop, and a bike trail.

Highlight: Culzean beach which offers amazing views in a secluded setting.

All Maybole cottages

The Castle and Gardens of Mey, Thurso

Ok, it’s another castle, but this one has royal connections! Walk in the paw-steps of the royal corgis in the grounds of the Queen Mother’s home in Caithness. Pups must stay on a lead, but it’s very enjoyable to stroll around and admire the gardens. 

Things to do:

There are beautiful grounds to discover including a woodland area which offers welcome dappled shade in the summertime. Get some fresh sea air and take in amazing views across to Orkney on a coastal walk. After wandering the grounds, you’ll be pleased to hear that John O’Groats is just 7 miles away if you fancy tagging it onto your day out. 

Facilities: Café, gift shop, toilets, and a couple of car parks

Highlight: The castle itself is a spectacular sight with wonderful z-plan, striking turrets and gun slits throughout the ground floor. 

All Thurso cottages

The Hermitage, Dunkeld

Listen to the crashing Black Linn Falls, breathe in the scent of pine, and take in the magical forested scenery at The Hermitage. This is a great woodland that boasts some of the tallest trees in Britain and the winding River Braan which accompanies you as you make your way along the footpath. The towering trees are Douglas Firs and they’ll make you feel tiny as you trot amongst them. It’s a great place for nature spotting with red squirrels darting in and out of the trees, various birdlife, and even salmon leaping in autumn. 

Things to do:

Pretty Ossian’s Hall overlooks the Black Linn waterfall – try to visit after heavy rain to see the full force of the falls. Carry on along the river and see if you can spot the totem pole carved from a Douglas Fir. There’s no shortage of interesting places to stick your nose on this walk!

Facilities: There are limited facilities at The Hermitage. 

Highlight: See the almost life-sized painting of Ossian at Ossian’s Hall, a summerhouse hermitage built in 1757 that gives the place its name. 

All Dunkeld cottages

Robert Smail’s Printing Works, Melrose

A fully functioning Victorian printing press, with technology soaked in ink and history, Robert Smail’s Printing Works is an intriguing place to visit on your Scottish travels. Even though the premises have been there for over a century, the machinery is still going strong and used today for various commercial print jobs.

Things to do:

While, admittedly, there is not a lot here to interest dogs, humans will love getting their hands inky by having a go at letterpress printing. You can act as apprentice compositor in the Caseroom, see how newspapers, tickets, posters and letterheads were once printed, and step inside Robert Smail’s office frozen in time since 1866.

Facilities: There’s a shop and wheelchair and buggy access into this attraction.

Highlight: See the old waterwheel that used to power the printing works.

All Melrose cottages

Glenlivet Estate, Cairngorms

Grab your walking boots and get ready for woodland walks, moorland rambles and riverside strolls on a trip to this vast and exquisite country estate in the north of the Cairngorms National Park. The Glenlivet Estate has so much to see and do that you won’t be able to decide where to go first – we suggest you head straight to the visitor centre to come up with a plan of action for the day!

Things to do:

There are the ruins of Drumin and Blairfindy castles, the stunning Victor Gaffney Viewpoint and even a distillery for you and your pup to discover. If you’re more into mountain biking, take to the trails or try your skills on the Pump Track or in the Skills Area where your canine companion can watch from the sidelines. 

Facilities: Car park, toilets and a free bike wash/hose for cleaning muddy bikes after your adventures. 

Highlight: Visit the historically significant Scalan Seminary, reached via a 4.5km circular walk perfect for adventurous hounds and their owners although possibly not one for little legs. 

All Cairngorms cottages

Anagach Woods and the River Spey, Grantown-on-Sprey

Pull on your walking boots and head to this wonderful pinewoods, a delightful place for forest adventures with your canine companion, that was planted back in 1766. Follow the network of paths and trails that crisscross this region, soaking up the serene atmosphere as you go. Take nibbles and a few treats for your dog and enjoy a picnic beneath the tangled trees.

Things to do:

Look out for the wide variety of wildlife hiding out in these woods, from woodpeckers to red squirrels, there’s lots for you to see. Canine companions will have a great time sniffing out wildlife trails as you explore. There are several walking routes but this Anagach walk is the longest trail covering 7.25 miles. 

Facilities: A car park but otherwise limited facilities

Highlight: Look out the roe deer who roam this region

All Grantown cottages

Balnakeil Beach, Durness 

You can’t talk about activities in Scotland without suggesting a trip to one of the country's remarkable dog-friendly beaches and Balnakeil Beach is among the best. The curving white sand shores are stunning and the beach juts out into the sea towards the headland of Faraid Head making for wonderful coastal views.

Things to do:

Build a sandcastle, paddle in the sea and collect shells off the pristine white sand of this beautiful Scottish beach. Dogs will have a great time digging in the sand and running in and out of the waves, there’s lots of open space for a game of fetch too!

Facilities: There are limited facilities at this remote and peaceful beach, but the intriguing Balnakeil Craft Village is less than a mile away where you’ll find a restaurant/café to grab a bite to eat.

Highlight: A ruined church overlooks the beach and is an interesting place to drop by while you’re there.  

All Durness cottages

For information on dog-friendly beaches, why not download our Dog Spot Beach Guide? Don’t forget to have a butchers at Dog Spot, our hub for all sorts of canine-related fun and inspiration!

Seek out a wonderful dog-friendly cottage in Scotland and make memories as you explore this remarkable landscape with your best friend in tow.

Dog-friendly cottages in Scotland

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.