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Visiting Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate with your dog

Dog walking on Holcombe Moor
Dog walking on Holcombe Moor | © Oliver Smith

With miles upon miles of footpaths across vast moorland and hillside woods, Holcombe Moor is a great place to explore with your dog. Find further information and guidance on walking during nesting season and near livestock.

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.

Holcombe Moor is a one pawprint rated place.

Dogs are welcome here, but facilities are limited. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Where can my dog go?

Dogs are allowed in all areas across Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate, however read on for further guidance regarding nesting season and livestock.

Stuck for where to go, here’s a selection of trails for you to enjoy with your dog - click here.

Please be aware when walking your dog

You must keep your dog on a lead no more than 2 metres long on open access land:

  • between 1 March and 31 July (to protect ground-nesting birds)
  • at all times around livestock

You should never let your dog chase wildlife or grazing animals.

Golden plover nest, North Yorkshire Moors
Golden plover nest | © National Trust Images/Dougie Holden

Breeding Birds

Nesting season runs from 1 March to 31 July, and during this time we ask for you to please stick to footpaths and keep your dog on a lead and out of vegetation during this time.

Holcombe Moor is an important breeding site for ground nesting birds that make their fragile nests tucked away safely in long grass. It’s important we allow moorland species such as the golden plover, dunlin, and curlew a safe place to breed and raise their young, giving them the best chance of success.

Allowing your dog to disturb a nest just once, can be enough to cause a bird to abandon its nest.

Livestock (sheep & cows)

Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate is the perfect place to explore with your four-legged friend, however, please bear in mind that there are working farms on the estate and the moorland is grazed by animals belonging to members of the Holcombe Moor Commoners’ Association. The team work closely with local farmers to ensure public access, so everyone can enjoy this protected landscape responsibly.

For much of the year livestock graze in the fields and on the moor so during these times please ensure dogs are on a short lead. We ask that you take special care during lambing season in spring, when there are pregnant ewes and lambs across both moor and field. Dogs off the lead can cause harm to farm animals, and the impact of just one dog allowed to run free can be fatal for cows, sheep, and lambs.

If you are approached by cattle with your dog, it is safer to let go of the lead and call your dog back when safe to do so.

A ewe with two lambs at Knightshayes, Devon
A ewe with lambs at Knightshayes, Devon | © National Trust Images/John Millar

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. Make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

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.
Rangers and volunteers on Holcombe Moor


Everyone needs nature and outdoor space, now more than ever, and as a charity we rely heavily on your support and generosity. Your support plays a vital role in allowing us to protect Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate’s natural landscape and rich wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

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