7 Dog-friendly Castles Near London for a dog day trip
Earlier this year we had travelled to the New Forest and, upon a friend’s recommendation, we visited dog-friendly Hurst Castle, which we found fantastic and left us wanting to visit more about castles allowing dogs. We have researched places nearer home – with a travel time of 2 hours or so from Central London – and today we share our findings.
Some of the castles are more easily reachable by car, others have fair public transport connections. As a dog owners who doesn’t own a car and like to travel by public transport (which is great to keep the carbon footprint at a low), I have have included some indications that useful to choose the best trasport mean.
1. Scotney Castle (Kent)
A 14th century moated building, Scotney Castle, in Kent, is surrounded by a 780 acres of parkland, which is very apt for dog walks. Dogs are not allowed to enter the castle house, but they can be taken to the garden, shop and estate on short lead (they have leads to borrow in case you don’t have one). There is a tea-room on site, and dogs are allowed in its outdoor area, which has a protective cover; dog water bowls are provided.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a herd of Sussex Cattle on the estate, so you will need to keep your dog under close control at all times (apart from being on lead).
In case you wish to give your dog an off-leash run, Sprivers and Nap Wood are not far if you are travelling by car.
Dog-friendly Scotney Castle | Essentials
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN
Dog rules: Dogs welcome on short leads around the garden and estate. If you don’t have a short lead they can lend you one at our visitor reception for use during your visit. Pick up after your dog (dog bins by the toilets in the main courtyard and to the entrance of the estate by the Salvin Gate).
Add link to dog walks page!
Prices: Adult £14.20 (£15.65 gift aid); child £7.10 (£7.85 gift aid) (under 5 go free); free for National Trust members
Opening times: Times can change throughout the year.
Directions: Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN
- By car: ★ Best reached by car. sat nav postcode is TN3 8JN, and then once on the A21 follow the tourist information signs for Scotney Castle. Parking available for £3
- By train: the closest station is Wadhurst (5 ½ miles away); by bus 256 Tunbridge Wells to Wadhurst Autocar Service on weekdays.
2. Bodiam Castle (East Sussex)
A gem among the medieval landmarks, Bodiam Castle is a 14th century moated castle with ruined interior, in East Sussex. Dogs are only allowed in the grounds of the castle and are welcome in the Castle-view café but not in the Wharf tea-room. We confirmed with Bodiam Castle’s staff that this means that they won’t be able to cross the moat and enter the castle walls and go into the courtyard.
The Castle is still spectacular from outside, and in Autumn it can have a suggestive atmosphere, especially with the mist and Autumn colours. You can get an idea about the grounds of the castle in this handy map of the property.
To make it a day out, get the dog-friendly Kent & East Sussex historic steam railway, from Tenderden to Bodiam (dog tickets cost £3 – restrictions apply during their special events though, so check beforehand). You can also visit Chapel Down vineyard (more about it in our dog-friendly vineyards guide).
Dog-friendly Bodiam Castle
Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA
Dog rules: Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds only, i.e. not inside the castle, shop or main tea room, but they are also welcome inside the Castle View Café, next to the castle . Dog tethering point and dog bowl outside Castle View Café opposite castle entrance. Dogs must be picked up after.
Opening times: Opening times change throughout the year, please check this page before heading there.
Prices: Adults £9.80 (£10.80 gift aid), Child £4.90 (£5.40 gift aid) for the whole property; free for National Trust members. Offer tickets for Kent & East Sussex Railway and Bodiam Boating station ferry, if you show your travel tickets.
Directions: Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA
- By train: If you travel to Tenterden (by Southwestern railway to Headcorn + bus no. 12), there you will be able to get the Kent & East Sussex historic railway to Bodiam.
- By car: There is parking on site £3 for non-members, free for National Trust members
3. Hever Castle (Kent)
Hever Castle is a beautiful well-preserved privately-owned castle in Kent, which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Dogs on lead are allowed in the grounds, while they cannot access the cafes, restaurants, castle, mazes and playground. The castle grounds measure 125 acres, and include a lovely garden and a lake, which features a lake walk and rowing boats, canoes and pedalos for hire. We confirmed that dogs are allowed on the boats, so even though you can’t access other areas, you will not be left without choices.
Hever Castle has a tradition of hosting yearly two-day dog events, at the beginning of August. This year, the title of the event was Castle Canines, and saw a busy schedule, packed with dog displays and fun dog shows.
Dog-friendly Hever Castle
Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG
Dog rules: Dogs are welcome in the grounds as long as they’re kept on a lead at all times. With the exception of assistance dogs, dogs are not allowed inside the cafés, restaurants, Castle, mazes or Adventure Playground. There are water bowls provided for them at both our Moat Restaurant and at the Guthrie Pavilion Restaurant where there is also outside seating. There is a stand where dogs can be tied and left in the Castle Courtyard if you wish to visit the castle, but this is not supervised and they are left at your own risk. Dogs are not permitted in the Luxury Bed & Breakfast accommodation.
Prices: Prices depend on whether you choose the castle & gardens ticket or the gardens only access, with a small discount if you book online beforehand.
- By car: the postcode is TN8 7NG; parking is free
- By public transport: Hever Castle’s website suggests trains from London Victoria and London Bridge (via Oxted or East Croydon) to Edenbridge Town Station, and then a taxi for three miles to the castle, however the taxi provided suggested confirmed that it does not take dogs, so this option may prove difficult. ★ Instead, get off the train at Hever Station (next on line, unmanned and no taxis) and take a one-mile rural walk to the castle, with the help of the map provided.
4. Chiddingstone Castle (Kent)
Not far from Hever Castle, there is Chiddingstone Castle. This privately-owned castle opens seasonally to the public. Dogs are allowed in the grounds and tea room. There is a useful map of the grounds, which allows you to see where you can take your dog.
In case you don’t have wish to take turns outside with the dog to visit the castle, you can walk around lawns, lake and woodland and on Open Days you can enjoy tea, coffee, light lunches and cream teas in our Tea Room without paying entry into the Castle & Collections.
Dog-friendly Chiddingstone Castle
Chiddingstone Castle, Hill Hoath Road, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7AD
Dog rules: Well-behaved dogs on a lead welcome in the grounds and courtyard tea room. Please clean up after them.
Opening times: the Castle is open from April to October from Sunday to Wednesday, 11am to 5pm.
Prices: Adult £9.50; Child (5-13) £4.50 for access to castle and collections.
Directions: Hill Hoath Road, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7AD
- By train: Southern railway from London Bridge to Edenbridge Town Station, then bus no. 232 to Gilwyns Corner.
- By car: There is ample parking at the Castle. Honesty box in the car park and suggested donation of £2.00 per car.
4. Dover Castle (Kent)
Dover Castle is a fortress with a strategic position, near the white cliffs of Dover, dominating the sea. While dogs are not allowed to enter the castle, they are welcome in the grounds. We confirmed that in the grounds means outdoor also within the walls of the castle and that signs indicating the areas where dogs are or are not allowed are placed at the site. It may seem far, but from central London to Dover Castle by public transport only takes 1 hour and 30 minutes (more below)!
Dog-friendly Dover Castle
Castle Hill Road, Dover CT16 1HU
Dog rules: Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds only. Assistance dogs welcome across the site.
Opening times: opening times may vary on each season. For October they are 10am to 5pm daily.
Prices: Adult £20.90 £23.00; Child (5-17 years) £12.50 £13.80; free for English Heritage members
- By train: ★ The castle can be easily reached by train. From London St Pancras take the Southeastern railway to Dover Priory, 1 mile far from the castle. You can then walk there (27 minutes according to Google Maps) or take the bus (which will only cut your walk of half though). The whole journey from London to the castle will take you only approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- By car: The entrance is on Castle Hill Road (the A258). They recommend travelling via the A2 towards Dover.
5. Sissinghurst Castle Garden (Kent, Cranbrook)
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, in Kent, is a National Trust property tucked away in the countryside. Being a working farm as well, you may encounter livestock, so dogs must be kept on leads at all times. They can walk around the estate, but can’t access the formal garden. If you fancy a long walk, there is a 3 mile route taking you through Rounds Hill Wood, the lake, the orchard and the fields.
Dog-friendly Sissinghurst Castle
Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2AB
Dog rules: Dogs on leads are most welcome around the wider estate but aren’t able to go into the formal garden.
Opening times: Opening times vary depending on the season, please check this page before visiting.
Prices: whole property March to October 13.80-15.20, child 6.90-7.60: Winter 1 Nov-31 Dec 9.90-0.9, 4.95-5.45 child. Always free for National Trust members.
Directions: Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2AB
- By train: Staplehurst station is approximately 5 miles away (you can try and find a dog-friendly taxi booking in advance)
- By bus: Arriva 5 Maistone to Hawkhurst (passing Staplehurst train station), alight Sissinghurst, then 1 ¼ miles walk (for a description of the walk see their website here)
- By car: ★ Best by car. The castle is 2 miles north-east of Cranbrook, 1 mile east of Sissinghurst village, off A262. Sat nav may take to the wrong address, so they advise you follow the signs. Parking charge £3, free for National Trust members.
6. Pevensey Castle (East Sussex)
Pevensey Castle, in East Sussex, not far from Eastbourne, is an ancient fortification which history pre-dates the Middle Ages. Its ruins can be visited and, great news, they are very welcoming with dogs: canines on leads are welcome throughout the site. We confirmed that this means that dogs can also access the museum, which takes on one of the towers, and the dungeon, although we have been advised that the latter may not be suitable for some four-legged due to a grill floor and the very small space.
Dog-friendly Pevensey Castle
Castle Road, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 5LE
Dog rules: Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the site. To confirm if this means that they are allowed in the dungeon and the museum too?
Opening times: Opening times vary throughout the year, please check this page before visiting
Price: Adult £6.80 £7.50; Child (5-17 years) £4.10 £4.60; free for English Heritage members
Directions: Castle Road, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 5LE
- By train: ★ The castle is easily accessible by public transport. Take the Southern railway from London Victoria and alight at Pevensey & Westham or Pevensey Bay stations, which are both 1⁄2 mile away, and then walk to the castle (15 minutes or so). The journey takes approx. 2 hours.
- By bus, Stagecoach 55 passes the site; Cuckmere Community Bus service 46 (Sat) terminates adjacent to the castle; frequent Stagecoach service 99 also runs within 1⁄2 mile – alight at Pevensey, Church Lane.
- By car: road access in Pevensey off A259. Car park (charged) containing about 50 spaces is located approx. 300 metres from the entrance.
7. Rochester Castle (Kent)
Credits: English HeritageRochester Castle is a well-preserved ancient Norman castle located in the town of Rochester. Being in town, it doesn’t have the atmosphere of the countryside and its grounds are smaller in size compared to the other fortresses. Dogs are not allowed inside the castle but only in the grounds and some visitors with dogs reported that the grounds are nothing special. So, perhaps, this is a site to visit if you are already in the area, but not worth organising a special trip for visiting.
Dog-friendly Rochester Castle
Castle Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SW
Dog rules: Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds only. Assistance dogs welcome across the site.
Opening times: Opening times vary throughout the year, please check in advance at this page
Prices: Adult £6.40; Child (5-17 years) £4.00; free for English Heritage members
Directions: Castle Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SW
- By train: ★ The castle can be easily reached by public transport: Take the Southeastern railway from St Pancras or London Victoria to Rochester station; the castle is 1⁄2 mile far. The whole journey takes approx 45-50 minutes. If you are taking the bus, services in Rochester are operated by Arriva and Nu Venture and you can alight in Corporation Stree, which is a short distance from the castle.
- By car: by Rochester Bridge (A2); junction 1 of M2 and junction 2 of M25. No parking on site, but there are a number of pay and display (coin operated) car parks located near by.
If you don’t know how to choose which to visit first, although we haven’t yet visited all the castles, the considerations below may be of help:
- The most dog-friendly castle near London is Pevensey Castle, as it is the only one we found that allows you to take your dog anywhere on the site. All the others have restrictions for accessing the castle itself and in some cases the formal gardens and other areas.
- All the castles mentioned apart from Rochester Castle are in a rural/countryside setting, so they are perfect for good dog walks and breathing clean air.
- If you are interested in combining the visit with other activities, Bodiam Castle and Hever Castle are perhaps the best options, as you can add: historic steam railway trip and/or a dog-friendly vineyard visit to the former, and boating to the latter. Although, to be fair, if you travel by car it can be easy for you to stopping by a dog-friendly vineyard regardless of the castle you choose.
If you would like to explore more dog-friendly castles (and perhaps with more dog-friendly rules) a bit farther, Hurst Castle in the New Forest is wonderful. We will tell you more about the best dog-friendly castles in the UK later on the blog. You can also treat yourself to a castle stay in some cases!
As you will have noticed from this post, we haven’t yet personally visited all the castles to take photos of them. For this reason, we are putting out a call for the best canine photo for each castle. If yours is selected, it will be featured in this guide (obviously with credits) and in our Instagram stories, and if you fancy you’ll be able to provide a quote to be featured too.