Owners And Dogs Walking On UK Beaches
Dogs being banned from beaches and coastal area restrictions can start from 1 April in busy popular tourist locations and/or from the Easter weekend.
The UK has one of the largest coastlines in the world according to the Ordnance Survey who produces the UK’s geographical mapping services. There’s more than 19,490 miles (31,360km) with the mainland making up 11,070 miles (17,810km).
That’s plenty of room for everyone including pets, however the coastline is restricted in certain regions for a number of reasons.
Who Controls The Beaches ?
Beaches fall under the premise of Defra, The UK’s Department of The Environment, alongside Public Health, currently, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, powers being devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Owners and operators of beaches, countryside and coastal areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are led by the various local government and council restrictions, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
There are many areas of outstanding beauty and areas of scientific value that can be cordoned off or where the public may be asked not to walk their dogs near, such as Climping Beach. There’s also MOD property, coastal firing ranges and test ranges and the RAF sometimes practice landing on sandy beaches or there’s specific events such as famous land speed records being broken on Pendine Sands, Wales.
The National Trust operate beach areas, such as Branchester Beach, Norfolk, where there are restricted times of visits with Holkham Hall, a few minutes up the coast operating private Nature Reserves leading to the beach. There’s private beaches and villages such as the gorgeous Clovelly in North Devon, where purchasing entrance to the village is required to access the beach area, and of course some beaches are simply inaccessible in rugged mountainous areas.
Even with practical restrictions, there’s still thousands of miles available for glorious beach walks with your dog.
Why Are Dogs Banned From Beaches?
Dogs can be banned from beaches all year. These fortunately are few, currently about 75 beaches in the UK.
The main summer bans are from 1 May through to 30 September in busy locations.
These restrictions are enforced under Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO). Fines can be imposed by officials for failing to adhere to the rules where dog wardens can patrol these areas. Fines range from about £60.00 to £100.00 for first offenders.
Those beaches have signage stating the restrictions positioned in beach car parks and by the entrances and on websites run by the operator, mainly being the local councils up and down the country. Larger, popular beaches may ‘zone’ the beach and have colourful maps illustrating the latest restrictions, on site and on their websites. The bans can be very different on beaches that may be located just a half a mile or so apart.
For example, the main beach restrictions may be –
- Dogs allowed on beaches on leads
- Dogs not allowed on beaches but allowed to be walked on leads on the promenade
- Dogs not allowed on beaches or promenade
If you’re making a special visit to the beach, it’s important to double-check local media to ensure your preferred beach is operating.
Recent lockdown restrictions require households not to travel in certain areas of the UK and this may mean taking a journey to get to a beach. Covid-19 Guidance for managing beaches and coastline areas.
Why Ban Dogs?
One of the main reasons why dogs are banned at popular times is due to the amount of dog poop left on beaches that becomes a health hazard where poop and dog urine affect water quality.
Beaches are rated by the ‘Blue Flag’ system for the quality of the water to swim in and cleanliness of the beach and are highly treasured achievements by councils and beach owners which help to bring in much tourism to the region and boost the economy.
Dog poop is generally meat-based excrement which can cause the risk of Toxocara in humans. It has been known in severe case to cause blindness where the public may have come into contact with dog poop.
Although most dog owners pick up poop and dispose of in the special bins provided there are some owners who fail and when beaches become more crowded can become a danger.
Horses are allowed to walk on beaches accompanied by their rider. Their excrement left on beaches is comprised from eating grasses and therefore not seen as posing an environmental health problem.
Having A Day Out With Your Dog On The Beaches
Preparation beforehand is essential to enjoy a great day out, some tips –
- Decide which beach you are visiting and check the local council website for dog walking rules.
- Check local media in case there are any localised problems flagged up as to why not to travel and the beach is open.
- Check your preferred meteorology website for weather conditions and tide times and plan your day around these. Nothing worse than arriving to find there’s hardly any beach to walk on, which may be all pebbly because the tide is at its highest.
- Check if there are local handy vets in case of any emergency.
- Worth refreshing yourself on the RNLI website about water safety and whether there is any lifeguard presence.
- Pack lots and lots of fresh water for your dog who will get extra thirsty and take a collapsible bowl. Take any meals necessary for the day.
- Pack a heap of old towels that are useful for drying your dog if they’ve been swimming and to get the sand and saltiness off before going home.
- Take poop bags.
- Pack usual long and short walking leads and muzzle, in case it may be required.
- Pack a small first aid box for your dog which is always handy to have in your car.
- If your dog wears a GPS activity tracker, make sure it’s charged up for the day and you have your mobile phone.
- Your dog is wearing their ID tag.
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