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credit: Jo Southway
Bowerland Cottage Holidays
Dogfriendly Magazine Review
Read our comprehensive review of this listing printed in our bi-monthly magazine.
Name: Bowerland Cottage Holidays
Reviewer: Jo Southway
Bowerland Cottage Holidays are not like other holidays. Being home to Devon Dogs they specialise in training while you stay, providing a number of packages to cater to different behavioural needs. We took two of our dogs along, the youngest and oldest of the family, Seren and Juno, booking the pup in for training.
We arrived at our accommodation, the Dartmoor Inn Studio, which is one of the newer properties located just up the lane from the main site alongside one other cottage, giving you your own space to be able to unwind from the training. The cottages have been designed to make use of the space with an open-plan set-up that allows lots of light. The outside garden areas have recently been finished and have small grass lawns, perfect for the dogs to have a potter. Inside the cottage is equipped with all the sleeping, cooking and showering facilities you need on holiday, plus added extras for both you and your dog, such as biscuits, a dog bed, bowl, marmalade… It is both welcoming and bright, with touches of vibrant colour making it a fun space.
Heading down for our training sessions we were blown away by the facilities. There’s an indoor barn to cater for any agility enthusiasts. Then the outside area provides a huge grass space with stunning views and various options for training.
For us, this was structured to do some puppy confidence building. Walking over different surfaces, under and through, giving sensory experiences and using perception skills. Seren loved exploring and working things out. She was suitably exhausted after her training session and very happy that we only needed to go up the lane to our cottage where she could then chill out on the raised bed provided for a much needed nap, with Juno joining in for good measure.
Fully recharged after napping, the dogs were keen to join us in exploring some of the local area. We opted to try a forestry site about 15 minutes away. Abbeyford Woods is a great place to go walking or have a picnic, especially when it’s sunny as the trees provide a lovely shady spot for a stroll. There is a large car park and trails that you can follow making it accessible for all. If you follow the river Okement it takes you along the Tarka Trail.
There are also bike paths, so if anyone in the family is keen on mountain biking it’s perfect. Whether you do a circular loop or out and back you’re sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. If you have brought bikes with you, or even if you haven’t, we really enjoyed a stop off at the Pump and Pedal. Listed as a cider house and cycle workshop it is a unique little place in such a handy location just off the A30. It is open daily and serves drinks, cakes, snacks and scrumptious pizzas. You can sit inside or outside with dogs. If you are into cycling then the workshop has everything you could ever need from a new bike to accessories or a safety check. We loved that it combined so many of our favourite things, dogs, cake, pizza and bikes – a fantastic little find.
If you’re looking to head somewhere busier to stock up in the shops or have a browse then why not visit Okehampton, a traditional market town with something for everyone and lots of dog friendly shops. Our visit to the town of course had to include the pet supermarket so that the dogs could pick out their own treats for later in the day when they were happily tired out from their adventures. But the dogs couldn’t have all the treats to themselves so we sought out a place recommended by Lauren at Devon Dogs called Love Brownies. All the brownies looked amazing and it was difficult to choose. The dogs enjoyed having lots of admirers and we had chocolate overload opting for cherry brownies and hot chocolate.
After all the goodies we thought we had better get some serious walking the next day, so with our pup being watched by a friend as she can’t yet walk far, we drove to Meldon reservoir and set off on an adventure to make it up the two highest tors on Dartmoor, Yes Tor and High Willhays. The reservoir is breath taking and if you just have a stroll around then it is well worth the visit. But we wanted a challenge so headed up over the moors on an eight-mile circular route that takes in the two highest tors on the way. Not an easy walk but also not as difficult as it sounds being the highest tors on Dartmoor. Around the reservoir and on the paths there were lots of walkers and dogs, but if you have a less sociable dog you could definitely still explore the moors, opting for a quieter parking spot on a less popular trail because the further out we went the fewer people we bumped into and we had a view for miles around without seeing another soul.
Another beautiful walk from Meldon reservoir is the Meldon viaduct circuit at around 4.5 miles. It’s a shorter option that still enjoys stunning scenery and offers views of the impressive viaduct. Anywhere you explore in the Dartmoor National Park you should expect to come across animals. Sheep and ponies all graze freely so making sure your dogs are kept under close control at all times is a must.
Keeping fuelled for all the activities is very easy with such a huge choice of pubs, cafes and takeaways locally. As well as those already mentioned, we chose to get pizza in Okehampton one evening and on another went in search of a pub we were desperate to experience, The Highwayman Inn. Famous for being “the most unusual pub in Britain”, it certainly didn’t disappoint. There are various bar areas to explore with different themes providing an incredibly theatrical experience that you will not forget in a hurry – everything from sea dragons to the inside of a ship and a giant minotaur. The menu caters well for vegetarians and vegans due to the landlady being vegan. They were incredibly welcoming and dogs are allowed indoors which is always a hit with us because nobody wants to be banished outside if it’s raining. If you are someone who does not appreciate the unusual and quirky, then it’s probably not the place for you. But if you fancy checking out this eclectic mix of bizarre artefacts or trying to get an encounter with the resident ghost then this is the pub for you.
If like us a holiday is just not a holiday until you have felt the sand between your toes and listened to the waves crashing, then you will want to head for your nearest beach. For this stay the closest is Bude on the north coast but as Okehampton is fairly central you can also head to the south coast without the need to travel much farther. We like to try and stay clear of the busiest places so rather than heading for the town of Bude we chose a spot further out called Sandymouth Bay beach. A mixture of pebbles and sand this National Trust beach could not be more dog friendly allowing them access to enjoy it all year. There’s even a water bowl and poo bags at the hut.
Although we didn’t plan a refreshment stop, here Sandymouth Cafe tempted us in. With a really nice menu and benches overlooking the sea we had to try it out. We only had drinks and cakes but after reading the menu we made a note to return and try the breakfast.
To sum up our holiday with Devon Dogs at Bowerland Cottages, it is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for training help from one of the biggest and most well-known dog training centres in the UK. Devon Dogs have it all covered with their in-person training, online training, DVDs, Youtube, podcasts, the list goes on. They teach using positive, fun, game-based methods that dogs love. But if all you’re looking for is a great dog friendly stay without training then the location of Bowerland Cottages is a walker’s dream.
We look forward to returning for more adventures.
Bowerland Cottage Holidays, review by Jo Southway and appears in DogFriendly magazine issue 78. For more information on the DogFriendly magazine visit https://www.dogfriendly.co.uk/magazine
Amanda, July 2023
I stayed in March of 2023 and loved it so much I'm going back in November! Each cottage is designed for the comfort of you and your dog, including enclosed, safe and relaxing yards, as well as the comfortable, dog friendly cottages. Best yet, you can book a trainer for personal skill development right in your cottage! The place is pure magic!
Listing Updated: 21/07/2023
Changes to businesses do occur. Please do double check this business is still dog friendly before you make a booking
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