The best beaches in Cornwall for dogs to go wild in winter

Proper Cornwall's roving reporter Merlin enjoys one of his favourite Cornish beaches in the winter


Every year people flock to Britain’s county of cracking coastlines to enjoy some of the finest stretches of sand in the country. However, many of Cornwall’s best beaches are out of bounds to hounds throughout the summer when a seasonal dog ban may be in place. Usually this runs from either 1 July to 31 August or from mid-May to the end of September and covers more than half the beaches in the county.

But what if you want to walk Rover between September and May? What if Fido wants a winter wander or an autumn stroll along the sand? Well, first check on Proper Cornwall’s beach pages to see if the sandy area you want to hit up is open to dogs at all. But secondly, take a look below to get some inspiration as to which beach to visit with the mutt once the seasonal ban has been lifted for the colder months of the year. You can almost hear the leashes tighten across the county as our four-legged friends race towards the coves and bays that have been closed off to them for months… 

Protip: also check our piece on beaches that are open to dogs throughout the year for alternative suggestions on great beaches for pooches in the winter. But, with the trusty help of our resident newshound, Merlin, here we select the best beaches that our furry friends can go wild on in winter. We’ve split it up into the Rugged North (the whole northern coast down to Portreath), the Serene South (the whole southern coast down to Helford) and the Wild West (the rest of Cornwall’s coast on its wild western tip). So, without further paws for thought, here we go…

Best dog-friendly beaches along the Rugged North coast in the winter

Chapel Porth Beach

Location: St Agnes, near Perranporth

A beautifully pristine National Trust-managed beach that stretches out below a ton of old mining buildings that are perched on the clifftops. Dogs must wait until the leaves fall to scamper along these sands but given the expanse and the views, it’s well worth the wait.

Merlin’s verdict: Howling good beach with amazing coastal walkies nearby.

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Crackington Haven Beach

Location: Crackington Haven, near Bude

Come winter, this unspoiled beach on a secluded stretch of the north coast is a big hit with pooches. Popular with rock hounds due to the fascinating geological formations that stretch along the waterfront, this beach is also loved by real hounds who adore scaling those rocks.

Merlin’s verdict: Rocks and sand. Rocks and sand. Cracking stuff!

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Location: Polzeath, near Padstow

Polzeath is at the epicentre of some brilliant treks along the north coastline, plus this popular beach abounds with visitors all year round who come to enjoy the waves and the walks. The sand is always good for digging when it’s open to dogs off-season. For us, this is one of the best dog beaches in Cornwall!

Merlin’s verdict: Brilliant sand to scamper on while the surfers take to the waves.

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Widemouth Bay

Location: Near Bude

Just three miles south of Bude, Widemouth Bay is one of those beaches that grows and grows at low tide, offering with it acres of room for sandy paws to explore its unspoiled shoreline out of season. From surfing to sandcastles, there’s something for everyone here.

Merlin’s verdict: Loads of rocks and rock pools here that are worth a sniff too.

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Best pooch-friendly beaches along the Serene South coast in the winter

Gyllyngvase Beach

Location: Falmouth

Falmouth’s funky seafront sizzles with barbecues and good times all summer. But come winter, it’s hot dogs that are on the menu. By that, we mean dogs who are able to run freely around the spacious beach. We don’t really mean dogs are on the menu. Obviously.

Merlin’s verdict: Frolicking in the frothy sea’s edge is loads of fun at Gylly.

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Millendreath Beach

Location: Millendreath, near Looe

Even at the busiest of times, Millendreath Beach has a tranquil air but when you take away the summer crowds, you really get a ‘one man/woman and his/her dog’ experience. This beach is made for mischievous mutts who enjoy foraging around in the rocks that flank it.

Merlin’s verdict: Acres of space and so many rock pools. I’ll lead the way.

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Porthpean Beach

Location: Near St Austell

St Austell’s nearest beach is a hive of activity with two-legged types all summer. But as soon as the 1 July to 31 August dog ban ends, out come the four-legged types who quite simply lap up the fine sands and rocky areas. A real family beach, whatever time of the year it is.

Merlin’s verdict: Love the rocks, love the beach and love walkies over to Charlestown too.

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Best dog-friendly beaches along the Wild West coast in the winter

Carbis Bay Beach

Location: Near St Ives

Carbis Bay made the news in 2021 as the setting for the G7 summit of world leaders. But forget that, we’re here to mark the K9 summit that takes place on its beach between 15 May and 30 September every year due to fine sands and space. That’s summit to bark about.

Merlin’s verdict: Meeting of mastiffs, conference of corgis and powwow of bow wows.

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Church Cove (Gunwalloe)

Location: Gunwalloe, near Porthleven and Helston

When this beautiful, beastly beach opens to basset hounds and beagles following its July and August ban, it’s all guns blazing. Mutts love this place and its neighbouring Dollar Cove. It’s romantic, moody and spectacular, with plenty of space to inspire both you and Towser.

Merlin’s verdict: So much to see and do and climb and sniff and, oh, I love it here.

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Kynance Cove

Location: Next to Lizard Point, near Porthleven and Helston

If beaches were dog show awards then Kynance would be wearing a Crufts ‘best in show’ rosette. You shouldn’t miss this ridiculously stunning cove and neither should your pet as the nights draw in. Clear waters, fine sands, plenty to explore and vistas that’ll floor you both.

Merlin’s verdict: These sea stacks create so many secret little caves to sniff out.

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Portreath Beach

Location: Portreath, near Redruth

This beautiful little beach is a popular jump-off point for dogs and their owners who want to explore the coastline north of Redruth. In the off-season months, these sands are open to pooches who can watch surfers taking on the ‘vortex’ wave that breaks next to the harbour.

Merlin’s verdict: Yeah, I’m not watching the surfers. I’m digging a big hole in this soft sand.

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Praa Sands

Location: Praa Sands village, between Porthleven and Penzance

Over a mile of soft golden sands welcomes dogs outside of the summer months. Yes, that’s more than a mile of fun on this beach and its sand dunes at its rear. It’s also worth taking Fido over to the war memorial or into Praa Sands village itself. Tons to see and do.

Merlin’s verdict: Beach? Sea? War memorial? Village? Beach? Sea? I want it all.

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Sennen Cove Beach

Location: Next to Land’s End, near Porthcurno and Penzance

As winter rolls in, Sennen Cove comes alive with nature’s fury. But if you’re taking Rover out, then you’ll be wanting to avoid the storms as this beach is perfect for walkies in colder but dry weather. Plenty to explore when the tide is out, so get your boots on and lead the way!

Merlin’s verdict: You couldn’t run free any more westerly if you tried.

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