Barking up a new tree

In 2004 there were 18 million pet owning households in the UK. Most of these households will have taken a holiday whilst owning a pet and discovered that they needed to find a friend or kennel to look after their furry friend while they were away. Nowadays thats not neccessary, especially when travelling within the UK. Self-catering countryside cottages are a popular choice during the holidays and with so many people having additional furry members of the family to consider, more and more self-catering properties are becoming pet-friendly so you can take the whole family away for a well deserved break.

Throughout the UK and Ireland there are plenty of places that should be considered when deciding where you would like to stay and bring your dog along too. Most holiday destinations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are found within beautiful country surroundings, with magnificent coastlines, breathtaking beaches and plenty of adventure to be had with all the family. Those long walks that you dread at home will seem a million miles away when your excercising the dog and yourself with a brisk stroll in the Brecon Beacons, Peak district, Yorkshire dales or Dartmoor. With so much to see and views that could only be recognised as ‘Areas of outstanding natural beauty’ you’ll have no trouble getting the family out of the house to walk the dog together.

Obviously areas close to a National park are a fantastic place to start when looking to find a location for a self-catering holiday away with your dog. The need for plenty of excercise means that areas of amazing countryside, fantastic views and beautiful walks are a good place to start, keeping those walks interesting for both you and your pet. Described as a “green gym” you, your family and your pet will get fit in no time strolling the brilliant landscapes of the UK and Ireland’s National parks.

Britain boasts 15 National parks with plenty of different walks to discover, from bracing coastal walks and mountain peaks to relaxing strolls across moorland and along canal paths. These wonderful areas of course are often home to some amazing wildlife and sensitive vegetation therefore all National parks enforce guidelines to walking your dog, simple pieces of advice as to when a dog should be on its lead, clearing up after your dog and always keeping them under control and within sight. Its a good idea to keep a eye out for signposts and signs letting you know of any concerns. With that said you and your dog can truly enjoy some amazing exploring in any of the National parks in Britain and Ireland.

Some National Parks and surrounding areas for you to consider:

Brecon Beacons: Beautiful national park positioned centrally in the South of Wales.There are plenty of places to stay in the area, many exciting activities to take part in if your looking for a busy trip and of course a wonderful park full of mountains, hills and beautiful landscapes. Around 35% of the Brecon Beacons is common land and there is also unfenced mountain land, the landscape can be rough and quite dramatic. Since may 2005 in Wales the public have had the right to walk across common land as long as they abide by the countryside code. You can also follow a guided walk with the National Park authority, there are huge numbers of walks to discover so make sure you take a map!

Lake district: Popular National park in the North of England. Here you can not only appreciate the stunning mountains, rolling hills and open grasslands but also appreciate some of the most beautiful lakes in England. Providing you with an even more interesting walk as well as plenty of activities for the whole family on or off water. There are hundreds of walks for you to take on as well as adventures for the children (and you big kids!) such as kayaking, climbing, boating and many attractions to visit. If your looking for a romantic break then maybe a few historical sight visits, some boating and relaxing in your self-catering country cottage is perfect for you.

Cairngorms National Park: The most northern national park, situated to the west in Scotland. Home to the largest mountain range, its biggest native forests, amazing lochs and rivers, moorland and farmland and also home to some truly inspiring wildlife. This is truly a magnificent park to visit, there is so much to do and explore, horse riding, aerial highropes assault courses, hundreds of different walks, archery, wildlife watching,off road quad biking and much more!

Wicklow Mountains National Park: Found on the west coast of Ireland you can discover many adventures and activities here. The walking trails of Glendalough are a fantastic way to excercise the dog and with 9 to choose from you can do a different one every day! There is also nature trails, water activities, climbing, hunting and fishing so you can really get to grips with the great outdoors whether on a family holiday or a couples retreat.

Above are simply an example of the wonderful National parks on offer in the UK and Ireland and there are obviously plenty of other areas of these countries that are just as beautiful and would make fantastic places to spend a self-catering country holiday with your pet. However, I hope that looking at some of these amazing parks has inspired you to go away with the whole family and let your furry friend join in the fun on your self-catering holiday the next time you go away, you might even save some money instead of dishing out for a kennel!You’d be barking mad to leave them behind!