Exploring dog-friendly Ludlow.

Holidays as a dog owner aren’t always a walk in the park — though if they were, my dog would be pretty chuffed. Finding a reliable dog sitter can prove difficult, and taking our beloved furry friend along with us isn’t always the most relaxing… in our case he’s a 7-month-old cocker spaniel, Rudi, with a penchant for stealing socks and a knack for escaping from almost anywhere. Hardly a recipe for a relaxed staycation.

Enter Ludlow Hideaway — a characterful little cottage for 2 set on a beautiful farm on the border of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. As dog owners themselves, owners Stephen & Steven welcome your canine counterparts with open arms — and they’ve thought of everything to make your stay as easy as possible. The cottage has its own little garden out front, with a fence to deter any curious hounds from wandering away or getting lost. There’s a handy outdoor tap for rinsing off muddy paws, and dog towels provided to dry them off again. You’ll also find dog bowls, treats and a stair-gate so your pooch can’t get into the bedroom to wake you up with those lovely face licks. Phew. Best of all, there are 9 acres of beautifully wild meadows and peaceful woodland to wander and explore. Even better than a walk in the park.

Of course it’s not just dogs that will feel totally at home here. We humans loved it too. The cottage is super comfortable, with a cosy logburner in the kitchen, big squashy sofas, a huge bedroom upstairs with a four-poster bed, and a roll-top bathtub in the ensuite. If we didn’t have a four-legged friend to entertain we might well have just stayed put… Armed with an extensive list of local recommendations though, we knew there was plenty to explore.

After a deep sleep in the quiet of the countryside we took our time over a breakfast of very local blackcurrant jam on toast — owner Stephen holds several prizes for his preserves, all available to buy from their little honesty shop — before setting out to our first destination, Mortimer Forest.

With a car park just on the edge of Ludlow — and breathtaking views over Ludlow Castle along the way — this thousand-hectare forest is a playground for dogs and humans alike. Walking trails range from an easy-going 1 miler to a whopping 9-mile trek, taking you deep into the trees for what feels like a proper adventure into the wild. We opted for somewhere in the middle — though if it weren’t for the promise of coffee and cake I might’ve been tempted to spend all day weaving down the mossy paths, with sunlight filtering beautifully through the trees and utter — almost eerie — peace and quiet.

Needless to say, coffee and cake won, and we caught the last of the sun from the terrace at the lovely CSONS Green CafĂ©, overlooking the River Teme and a shingle river beach. Being a water-loving spaniel Rudi was naturally thrilled that the fun wasn’t over, and made a beeline straight for the river — whilst we did the same in the direction of a deliciously fudgy brownie and carrot cake.

After drying off a soggy dog — now slightly regretting his life choices — we headed into Ludlow town for a wander. A thriving medieval market town with some amazing architecture, the higgledy-piggledy streets and red-brick buildings were bathed in a pink glow as the sun was setting. We popped into a few antique and vintage shops on Corve Street whilst passing– they welcomed dogs too! I particularly enjoyed The Period House Shop, a bit of a warren packed full of vintage and industrial treasures to rummage through. Turns out window shopping builds up quite a thirst and so our final stop was the Blue Boar, an 18thC pub with a roaring logburner and super-friendly bar staff who were quick to bring over a dog treat. Happy humans, happy hound.

Pre-dog ownership we’d have sampled one of Ludlow’s restaurants — it’s an increasingly foodie destination — but alas, not this time. After the adventures of the day though we were happy to head back and hibernate, safe in the knowledge that a comfy cottage awaited us and Rudi would be flat-out for a peaceful evening. Our first dog-friendly holiday — a success all round!