A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset

A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset

Lyme Regis is known as the "Pearl of Dorset." A sleepy little town by the Dorset-Devon border famous for being the birthplace of Mary Anning, the Victorian fossil hunter, and the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. Lyme Regis has dreamy beaches, wonderful seascapes, and quaint buildings. There's little to do in town except wander aimlessly down quiet streets and into twisty alleyways- perfect for embracing slow travel.

Lyme Regis is the ideal location if you want to stay close to essential amenities but still be able to explore coastlines and countryside without having to walk or drive too far. Although there is a local train station at Axminster, as well as the Jurassic Coaster bus service; it's better to have a car for sightseeing.

After discovering Dorset is one of the most dog-friendly places in the UK to visit with Lyme Regis being one of the most dog-friendly towns; I thought writing a a dog-friendly travel guide would be easy... Turns out, it wasn't quite that straight-forward! Neither were the plant-based menu options.

This is my slow travel guide to Lyme Regis in Dorset that covers everything from dog-friendly adventures to vegan-friendly dining-with some advice to bear in mind if visiting with your companion.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Walks In Lyme Regis, Dorset

With miles of beaches, all with different restrictions, it might be easier to stick to coastal trails. Fortunately the entire South West Coast Path is dog-friendly all year round, meaning you have 630 unrestricted miles of coastline to explore. Head further afield and you'll discover the Arne and Radipole Lake and Lodmoor nature reserves where dogs are welcome.



The Undercliffs

This is a 7 mile walk (11 km) through the Undercliffs National Nature Reserve and forms part of the South West Coast Path. The Undercliff is said to be the closest you'll get to a rainforest in the UK with the warm and humid micro-climate having created a unique and fascinating habitat. This walk can be challenging as the terrain is steep and uneven.


Golden Cap

There are multiple walking trails to explore at The Golden Cap Estate, ranging for short circular routes to longer, much tougher hikes. The Stonebarrow Walk is a short trail taking you through the rolling hills and over ancient hedgerows. Langdon Hill provides a woodland walk where you'll be surrounded by flowers in spring or fungi in autumn.


River Lim Path

A short and sweet 1.5 mile trail that takes you from Dorset into Devon. It's a peaceful trail alongside the River Lim next to the wooded valley. You're encouraged to take your time, stopping at the seating areas to spot bees, bats, and birds that might be visiting the thatched animal houses dotted about.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Beaches In Lyme Regis, Dorset

The Jurassic Coast stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles. Dorset itself has 27 unrestricted dog-friendly beaches so there is plenty of coastline to explore with your companion. With so many beaches, it's worth checking which ones are dog-friendly before visiting. Below are a few beaches with zero restrictions all year.



Monmouth Beach

Keep walking along the promenade, past the beach huts and fishing boats; you'll find Monmouth Beach, flanked by the Ware Cliffs, which are estimated to be nearly 200 million years old. This location is a great spot to hunt for fossils with your companion. If you're lucky, you can find examples of ammonites, belemnites, and plant fossils.


Church Beach

There's a little confusion over restrictions here. The Visit Dorset website claims dogs are welcome all year, while The Beach Guide says they're not allowed during summer months. Whenever we visited, there were always dogs enjoying the sands. It was a great little spot to drink coffee, eat a donut, and let our companion play off-leash.


East Cliff Beach

On the other side of town, opposite to Monmouth Beach and just past Church Beach, is East Cliff Beach. An expanse of sand that you and your companion can enjoy together all year. It tends to be quieter than the other beaches, making the ideal spot for a quiet walk together. It also happens to be one of the best places to find fossils.


We visited a few dog-friendly beaches outside of Lyme Regis too, which are worth making the trip to visit. Lulworth Cove was a highlight that allowed our eager yet inexperienced companion to test his swimming skills in safer waters. From there, Durdle Door is a short drive or enjoyable walk away. Charmouth Beach is another great choice if you're keen to hunt for fossils.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Lyme Regis, Dorset

For such a small town, I was surprised by how vegan-friendly the restaurants were. Most had plant-based options on their menus. Although many of these dishes were the stereotypical plant-based options, there were some surprises.

The one thing that made dining out with a dog tricky was the contradictory information about when restaurants were open and if they allowed dogs or not. I recommend calling ahead to book and having a back-up plan. Make sure to mention you have a dog with you. We found some restaurants only allowed them at certain times of year or not at all indoors.



Swim

Swim is perched right in front of the main beach with elevated outdoor seating, providing a perfect view of the Jurassic Coastline. It's a modern yet cosy restaurant with a vegan-friendly menu and very dog-friendly staff. Booking is advised, particularly on the weekends. The nachos were the best I've ever had, and the salad options are far tastier than the burger.


Poco Pizza

It may be hit and miss whether your dog can dine with you. Information is limited and reviews are conflicted. We were allowed to dine outside with our companion, although we did have to wait about an hour for a table to become free. There's only one vegan-friendly pizza on the menu and the description doesn't make it sound great... But it was absolutely delicious so don't let that put you off!


Lyme's Fish Bar

The best chips are always found a couple of streets away from the main highstreet. These were no exception. We enjoyed them so much we got them twice in the same day. If you're hungry and need something quick, or you can't find a restaurant with any free tables; this is where you should come. There's no seating but dogs are also allowed inside while you place your order.


The Pilot Boat

You can find several classic vegan-friendly options on The Pilot Boat's menu. A couple of pasta dishes, as well as a Moving Mountains burger and a hot dog. It's a good option if you're looking for a casual pub-restaurant that will cater to various dietary requirements or preferences. There's conflicting information online about their dog policy. We didn't have any trouble booking and being seated indoors though.


The best meal we had was at The Pink Goat, a tiny restaurant in Corfe Castle village. It's about an hour's drive from Lyme Regis but well worth the trip if you want to see the castle and grab lunch while visiting. Another option is River Cottage. Dogs aren't allowed on the farm but they are allowed in the cafe. The menu changes regularly and there's always a vegan option, however, it may have sold out like it did when we visited...



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Vegan-Friendly Cafes and Coffee Shops in Lyme Regis, Dorset

When it comes to cafes and coffee shops, you're spoiled for choice in Lyme Regis. If you want something you can eat while you walk or to sit on the beach with, head to one of these cafes for vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch options.



Town Mill Bakery

A fantastic spot to grab your morning coffee, a loaf of bread, or sweet treats to take away. Vegan options are limited on the Town Mill Bakery menu. In fact, there's only one but it's a good choice if you're looking for a wholesome brunch. It was one of the best meals I had on the whole trip.


Kiosk

On the edge of the beach, under the upper prom, you'll find Kiosk. A little cafe worth dropping by for a sandwich or coffee. There's limited seating outside with a couple of deckchairs and a few picnic tables. But being right by the sea, it's best to take your order to go if you want to avoid the seagulls!


The Whole Hog

Street food served from a hole in the wall. A tasty casual option when the sun is shining and you want to take your food to the beach. The Whole Hog serves specialty pulled sandwiches (including jerk jackfruit) and vegan-friendly doughnuts, alongside Monmouth coffee. It's a short walk away from Church Beach, which is the ideal location to have coffee and donuts without getting attacking by the gulls.


Baboo Gelato

I didn't know where else to put ice cream in this guide but I didn't want to leave it out. The plant-based ice cream was amazing. Some of the best I've ever tried. They even served dog-friendly ice cream from Doggy Doggy Yum Yum, which my companion always enjoys.


Other options that are dog-friendly and have plant-based options on their menu that I didn't get a chance to visit were: Galley Cafe, The Black Tea Room, and The Good Food Cafe & Deli.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Pubs and Bars in Lyme Regis, Dorset

There aren't many options except for the quintessentially seaside pubs in Lyme Regis. Thankfully, every one we drank in was super friendly, both to us and the dog. Many of them had plant-based options on the menu too.



Cobb Arms

There's no shortage of traditional pubs in Lyme Regis. There's plenty of room both indoors and out, with a traditional drinks and food menu. We enjoyed the little suntrap of outdoor seating just off the beach. They do have a plant-based option on the menu, however, their mislabeling raised some questions about how safe it would be to eat them if you have allergies.


The Royal Standard

The pub makes a point of welcoming everyone, including your dog companion. From the terrace, you have the perfect view over the bay and down to the Cobb Harbour. There are vegan-friendly options on the menu made from locally sourced produce. Although we only dropped by for a drink after fossil hunting on the beach.


The Nag's Head

If you're looking for a traditional pub, The Nags Head is a good choice. It's rough around the edges in a good way with limited seating making it a cozy place to relax. You're more likely to be surrounded by locals than tourists, if that's the atmosphere you're looking for.


A couple more traditional pubs include The Royal Oak and The Volunteer Inn. There's also a wine bar and restaurant called Lilac. We did visit the Lyme Regis Brewery for a drink... However, members in my party were unimpressed by the craft beers.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Sightseeing in Lyme Regis, Dorset

If you venture further afield you'll discover some wonderful places to visit. Most of them only a short(ish) drive outside of Lyme Regis. It's worth making time on your trip for sightseeing as they were some of the best experiences we had on our vacation.



Lulworth Cove

This cove is famous for its unique geology, the Lulworth Crumple and Stair Hole, and was formed by the force of the sea and a river swollen by melting ice at the end of the last Ice Age. As temperatures soared on the hottest day of our holiday, we relaxed in Lulworth Cove. I sat reading a book while the dog slept beside me, occasionally getting up to join my partner in the calm waters.


Durdle Door

Durdle Door was the reason I wanted to visit Dorset in the first place. It's a popular beauty spot due to the iconic caves, which have been caved out by the sea. Access to the beach is on foot, down from the cark park on the cliff top or via the Lulworth Cove trail. It's a steep climb down, and an even more strenuous climb back up. You'll need to swap your flip flops for trainers if you want to do it safely.


Kimmeridge Bay

Follow the South West Coast Path and you'll find Kimmeridge Bay. Part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's the ideal spot for exploring rockpools, snorkeling, and windsurfing. There is no sand in this bay so sunbathing is off the cards. However, you can swim here and your dog is welcome all year.


Agglestone Rock

Known as the Devil's Anvil, Agglestone Rock is a sandstone block weighing about 400 tonnes. It sits upon a conical hill not that far from the village of Studland in south Dorset, in the middle of Godlingston Heath. Nobody knows how it got there or why. Some have said the devil threw a missile at Corfe Castle, which fell short and turned to stone on the health. Others claim Satan dropped it because he was jealous of Salisbury Cathedral's architecture. Whatever the reason, it's an interesting sight to behold. There is a circular walk from Studland to Agglestone and back if you want to see it for yourself.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Attractions in Lyme Regis, Dorset

There are a remarkable amount of dog-friendly attractions in Dorset. Many of them require a car to visit (or a lengthy trip on public transport) as Lyme Regis only has a few in the town itself. I've included the ones we visited on our trip but also a few others I wish I'd gotten the chance to see.



Corfe Castle (and Model Village)

The woodland walk up to Corfe Castle was just as magical as the ruins themselves. You'll pop out in a quaint little village right by the castle entrance. Exploring the grounds of this thousand-year-old castle won't take long at all. So once you're done, head back to the Model Village. It depicts the castle and village as it was in 1646, built to 1/20th scale. Both locations are dog-friendly.


Holloways of Dorset

You can't get close to these without committing to lengthy hike. The closest free parking is at Symondsbury Estate. You'll need to walk from here to Hell Lane, along the abandoned roads, to see the Holloways of Dorset. Most of these ancient highways are between 300 and 3,000 years old, dating as far back as Roman times or even earlier.


Bicton Park Gardens

This was a real highlight of the trip. Perhaps even the best day we had. One of my favourite things to do is visiting botanical gardens, especially in summer. Unfortunately, very few of them allow dogs. In fact, Bicton Park Gardens is the first I've found to be dog-friendly. We enjoyed a very hot day exploring the gardens, wandering the small yet wonderful glasshouses, and relaxing in the tea room.


Other dog-friendly Dorset attractions worth considering include: Tout Quarry Sculpture Park, Forde Abbey House & Gardens, and Sherborne Castle. Transport enthusiasts will enjoy the Swanage Railway, Seaton Tramway, and Pecorama. If you time your visit right, you could visit Tyneham Village.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Shops in Lyme Regis, Dorset

Dogs are welcome in any of shop bearing these welcome window stickers. These useful markers make Lyme Regis feel welcoming to those of us travelling with our companions. When it's travelling, I've found it's useful to know where to shop if you want to avoid big chains and support local businesses.



Pug & Puffin

Whether you forgot to pack something or you just want to treat your dog, Pug & Puffin is worth dropping in on. I grabbed some extra treats and shopped for a new toy while my companion showed off his tricks to the shop staff. They have such a large array of pet essentials as well as everything from beds to spare leads.


Ryder & Hope

Ryder & Hope is such a thoughtfully curated shop with design-led products from independent designers and makers. I spotted a few of my friend's products as well as brands I've worked with too. My partner bought a pair of sunglasses, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted by these.


Ocean 29

I was drawn into this bright and airy shop because of the gorgeous candles in the window. EverythingOcean 29 sells is made by small independent designer-makers, and the selection is stunning. It's an ideal place to pick up an original and thoughtful gift to take home with you.


The Seriously Good Wine Co

This wine shop has a broad selection of wines, spirits, ciders and beers. If we hadn't brought our supply for birthday celebrations, we would have stocked up here instead. The staff are knowledgeable and ready to help if you're looking for something specific.



A Slow Travel Guide To Lyme Regis, Dorset


Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Lyme Regis, Dorset

Dog-friendly accommodation in Lyme Regis is limited to either pub hotels in the centre or more remote cottages. Renting an apartment or entire house can get you more for your money. Or at least provide you with a more comfortable experience.

We traveled with friends and stayed in an AirBnB that was 5 minutes from the town centre and 10 minutes from the beach. For us, renting a home was the best option. We wanted space to relax in together as two couples, the facilities to cook meals if we needed to, and a parking spot to make exploring Dorset a lot easier. I'm keen on avoiding AirBnB as much as possible. However, sometimes it's the most practical and affordable option.




Photographs by Jack Spicer Adams


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