The ‘Bow Wow’ Factor
Chris Higham checks out the dog-friendly Isle of Wight
Once, we had plenty of choice on a family holiday in Britain. We travelled far and wide with our children and were welcomed wherever we went. That was before we acquired our Golden Retriever Robbie. After that we struggled to find cottages or hotels that would accept us and our dog. Determined to take him on holiday, we lowered our sights and settled for a succession of lesser holiday homes.
Now, with two dogs in tow, we have found a holiday haven off the southern coast of England that really has the ‘Bow Wow’ factor! Yes, the Isle of Wight welcomes dogs and to prove it there is even a guide for holidaying hounds. Published by ferry operator Wightlink (0871 376 1000 / www.wightlink.co.uk), the Pawprint booklet is full of local dogs’ recommendations for the best beaches, country walks and pet-friendly pubs.
We decided to give it a go and cross the Solent for a stay at Niton Barns, recommended as dog-friendly in Pawprint. This complex of farm buildings, stylishly converted into holiday cottages in the Island’s south, proved just the ticket.
Setting out on foot armed with a copy of Pawprint, we followed the advice of booklet star Breez, the Island’s most idiosyncratic dog. Wearing her own set of goggles, this German Shepherd travels around West Wight in the customised sidecar of owner Graham Lee’s scooter. Graham and Breez love the climb up Headon Warren, “one of the island’s wildest places with fantastic views to the Needles in one direction and the mainland in the other.” We followed suit and climbed 400ft to Headon Warren’s flat-topped summit to explore a maze of paths weaving between heathland heather and gorse.
In between going walkies through miles of unspoilt countryside, we sampled the Island’s many pet-friendly pubs. Where did our dogs rate best? No contest: the Sun Inn at Hulverstone that offered dog biscuits and the Culver Haven Inn on top of Culver Down for its sausages.
Pet Holiday Travel Facts
Wightlink offers free ferry crossings for dogs on all three of its routes (car ferries run from Portsmouth–Fishbourne and Lymington–Yarmouth; a foot passenger catamaran operates between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head). Niton Barns offers canine-friendly holidays starting from around £127 per person (based on four sharing or £218 per person if two share) for three nights, plus £30 per dog. For more details or a free copy of Pawprint call Wightlink on 0871 376 1000 or visit www.wightlink.co.uk/pawprint.
Wightlink Pawprint Reader Offer for Phileas Dogg readers in March
For stays during National Pet Month (1 April – 6 May), dogs can stay for free at Niton Barns and will receive a welcome goodie pack. To book with Niton Barns: 01983 731 506 and firstname.lastname@example.org and to qualify for the dogs stay for free offer, quote ‘Wightlink – Phileas Dogg’.
Wightlink’s Pawprint Poll
Top 10 things that make tails wag on holiday:
- Exploring the woods
- Finding new walks
- Running in the wind
- Being petted by humans
- Messing about in water
- Getting titbits on a pub lunch
- Playing with other dogs
- Ball and stick games
- Swimming in the sea