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Visiting White Cliffs and the Lighthouse with your dog

Visitor with dog at the Northumberland Coast, Northumberland
Dog and owner | © National Trust Images/John Millar

We love dogs at The White Cliffs of Dover and South Foreland Lighthouse and they’re welcome to visit with you. The cliffs make an ideal location to walk your dog, so explore the site and take in the views together – there’s even space outside the café for them.

Current livestock grazing areas

We use livestock to sustainably manage the chalk downland at White Cliffs, much of which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). You may see some of our livestock on your walks. The animals are not domesticated, so please respect their space. Please do not feed the ponies or cattle: they get enough food from the land all year round and extra food can make them overweight and cause health issues.

We rotate the fields where the animals are, so locations may vary. Look out for signs on gates letting you know where the livestock are and when your dog needs to be on a lead.

You can download a map of our grazing compartments. Current areas being grazed are as follows:

  • Cornhill, Fan Bay Battery and Dame Vera Lynn Down - Cattle
  • Round Down - Farthingloe - Horses
  • Reversion Land and Lydden Spout - Farthingloe - Cattle

We do not graze cows with calves, nor do we graze bulls. Most of the cattle we use for maintaining the downland are young and although generally placid, they can be playful at times, which may feel intimidating. They may react if they feel threatened. Please make sure your dog is well-supervised and on a short lead when in one of the grazing compartments.

If you have a dog and cattle are running towards you, or you feel in danger from the livestock in any way, then let your dog off the lead. Your dog will be able to get to safety and removing the dog from the situation will calm the animals. You can call your dog back to you once the cattle are calm. Face the cattle and do not try to run away from them. This video gives further advice: Walking a dog through a field of cattle - YouTube

We deliberately choose grazing sites that are close to other open access land with no livestock. Please check the above map for details. If you feel uncertain in the presence of livestock, you may wish to choose one of these nearby compartments for your walk.

Please check back here regularly for up-to-date locations of the livestock.

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Ground nesting birds

If you're visiting with your dog between 1 March and 31 July, please keep them on a short lead in all areas to help protect ground-nesting birds. Please see The Countryside Code: advice for countryside visitors - GOV.UK as this is a legal requirement.

Our pawprint rating system

We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.

The White Cliffs of Dover and South Foreland Lighthouse are two pawprint-rated places.

These places have water bowls, dog bins and dog-friendly walks. You’ll be able to take your dog into some areas, but not everywhere. If there’s a food and beverage outlet, you can have a cup of tea with them, probably outside. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Where can my dog go?

Dogs are welcome in all outdoor spaces at The White Cliffs and South Foreland Lighthouse, but please keep them under close control by making sure they are in sight at all times. Please use a lead in and around the car parks, near the unfenced sections of the clifftop and always when in fields with livestock.

Where can’t my dog go?

Assistance dogs only welcome inside the cafés and shops. Outside seating is available, as are places to tie your dog up while they wait for you to return.

What facilities are available for my dog?

Dog waste bags can be requested from the shop if you forget to bring them. Used dog waste bags can be placed in any of the outdoor general waste bins near the Visitor Centre and South Foreland Lighthouse. Water bowls are available outside the Visitor Centre shop, at Fan Bay Deep Shelter and at South Foreland Lighthouse, when open. In the summer, our shops sell tubs of special doggy ice cream, to help keep our best friends cool.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one
An aerial view of a long stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent with the white cliffs emerging from the sea and topped with green fields

Discover more at The White Cliffs of Dover

Find out when The White Cliffs are open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

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