When it comes to dog-walking locations in Devon, we're spoilt for choice. Abandoned train lines, purpose-grown forests and picturesque parks all lend themselves to ensuring the county is full of some of the UK's best dog walks.
But where can you enjoy a care-free afternoon of dog-walking? Where in the county can you visit for the afternoon, knowing you have no worries about where you leave foot and pawprints?
From picturesque paths in the North to Mid Devon's forests full of fir, via perfect parks in South Devon – there's a dog-walking location perfect for you.
Here are 11 suggestions for fantastic dog walks in Devon:
The Tarka Trail covers a whopping 180 miles in a figure-of-eight route, centred on the North Devon town of Barnstaple. One of the best and most dog-friendly routes, though, is the 32-mile-long path running from the North Devon coast down to Meeth in Mid Devon. The paved walking and cycling track is loved by locals and holidaymakers alike, and is mostly flat – perfect for a leisurely stroll!
This route winds its way from Braunton to Barnstaple, then on to Instow, Bideford, Great Torrington and Meeth. It meanders its way alongside the Rivers Torridge and Taw, offering plenty of scenic views, and a choice of pubs and cafes along the way. Obviously, you may not want to take in all 32 miles at once(!), so we'd recommend a journey from Barnstaple to Bideford, stopping at Fremington Quay for a bite to eat and Instow to enjoy a drink by the beach.
This lovely circular walk in Kingswear, in the South Hams, goes around the picturesque tidal creek and through the woods above, covering 1.7 miles. If you're feeling adventurous and want to stretch your legs that little bit more, the short walk mentioned above can be extended, taking the total distance up to three miles - just head through Long Wood.
Rewind 60 years and Waterhead Creek came close to not existing at all. In the 1960s, the Parish Council wanted to buy it to solve its rubbish disposal problems. Councillors wanted to fill the Creek in with the village's rubbish before turning it into a public space. Thankfully the cost was too high, as they would have had to manage the whole project themselves, and so the picturesque location now remains.
Haldon Forest Park
There are 3,500 acres of woodland just waiting to be explored at Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter. There are miles of trails to get some fresh air and exercise. There are easy short routes for little legs, longer walks if you really want to rack up the miles, and off-lead areas, where you can let Fido run free for a while (while remaining under control, of course).
Make sure you use the dog waste bins in the main car park, on the road leading to the Forestry Commission Office, and in Mamhead car park. Just make sure you stay away from the dedicated cycling trails – the cyclists are impressively speedy through the Forest!
Found betwixt North and Mid Devon is another wonderful forested area; Eggesford. Here, you'll find an easy circular walk of around a mile and a quarter, with all but one short section on paved forest tracks. There is also an extensive network of trails and paths that link the different woodlands.
The first trees were actually planted in December 1919, meaning the forest will soon be celebrating its 100th birthday. There are some beautiful fir trees in the woodland, the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle, and a garden centre where you can enjoy a cuppa after walkies. And, if travel is an issue, there's a train station nearby, set on the scenic Tarka rail line.
Stover Country Park
More than 114 acres of woodland, heathland, grassland, lake and marsh all await you at Stover Country Park, in Teigngrace near Newton Abbot. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, meaning it is protected by law to conserve its substantial variety of wildlife and geology.
There's a lovely dog walk around Stover Lake and the surrounding woodland, with lots of marked trails to make your walk as short or as long as you like. Dogs must, however, be kept out of the lake, and under close control.
Grand Western Canal
The Grand Western Canal meanders through picture-perfect Mid Devon countryside and quaint villages. Known locally as the Tiverton Canal, it is now a country park and local nature reserve – and a perfect place for a pootle!
When walking along the canal, dogs must be kept under control and out of adjacent farmland. There are lots of water birds found along the canal, too, and dog-owners are asked to ensure their pets are kept away – especially during nesting season in the spring/summer.
River Avon Dam
With both flat and hilly parts, this pathed walk follows the River Avon from Shipley Bridge on Dartmoor – where a free car park awaits you – up to the Avon Dam. The first part runs directly alongside the river, allowing adventurous dogs to take a dip in the water. The walk then opens onto gorgeous, open hillside as you amble up to the dam.
Once there, you can venture a little further to find the Reservoir to breathe in the beautiful still water and surroundings. It's around one-and-a-half miles from start to finish, meaning by the time you've returned from your starting point you'll have certainly totted up the steps.
Bakers Park/Bradley Manor
On the outskirts of Newton Abbot, you'll find Bakers Park, a huge open park perfect to take the dog. Follow the path through the gate to the west of the path to go through to a large meadowed area and woodlands which make up the grounds of Bradley Manor.
It's a great walk for dogs who love to swim, with the River Lemon flowing through the meadow and park, into town. Once you reach a bridge, you can either cross over to walk back towards your starting point through the woods or turn back the way you came. This walk is particularly beautiful in the summer.
Cockington Country Park
The beautiful Cockington Court estate lies between Torquay and Paignton, a mile or so off the coast. It takes pride in being a dog-friendly site and won a silver award in the Torquay Herald Express Tourism Awards for Dog-Friendly Business of the Year 2016.
Although owners are asked to keep their pets on leads and under control in certain areas on-site, if you want to let them off the lead, there are plenty of open spaces and meadows to play in. There are also miles of walks surrounding the main estate if you wanted to stretch your legs further afield.
Owned by the Forestry Commission, Cookworthy Forest is an eye-catching conifer plantation in the gentle hills of West Devon, between Okehampton and Bude. A stroll through the woodland brings walkers close to a wide variety of wildlife, including ravens, buzzards and red deer.
The Cookworthy Forest Trail is a dog-friendly circular route which starts and finishes at the main car park, opposite the Forest Centre, and takes you into the heart of the impressive forest and back again. If you would rather find your own path, there are plenty of opportunities to get away from the well-trodden routes. Look out for the reconstruction of a Celtic roundhouse on site, too, nestled between the trees.
This stunning reservoir on the edge of Exmoor allows for a very gentle walk around the water. There are no stiles, steps or gates on the route, meaning it's easy to get around, but dogs are asked to be kept on a lead and out of the water.
Should you wish to find somewhere a little more spacious to let your dog off the lead, there are some side paths into the nearby woodlands where they can be let free for a time. As well as being suitable for dogs, it's perfect for prams or wheelchairs.
Have we got you in the mood for a Devon walk now? If you're in need of somewhere to stay when in the area, check out our full range of dog-friendly Devon cottages, as well as our featured holiday parks, hotels and B&Bs.