One of Devon’s most beautiful dog friendly National Trust self-catering cottages

Guest blog by Natalie Millar-Partridge

At the start of the year, we invited journalist, dog destination expert and founder of Canine Cornwall, Natalie Millar-Partridge (and her cockapoo Partridge!), to stay at Killerton Park Cottage as part of our partnership with the National Trust.

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Back at the beginning of the year, when the days were short, and we were a little frazzled, longing to emerge from the gloom of winter, we packed our bags and headed off for a restorative stay – Partridge in tow – at the super dog-friendly Killerton Park Cottage.

The National Trust is home to over  220 dog friendly cottages, across the country, where you can immerse yourself in nature, and some much needed R&R with your four-legged friend at your side. Having partnered up with Forthglade – masters of nutritional natural dog food, passionate about nurturing the relationship between you and your dog – on a three year project to highlight all of the beautiful dog friendly National Trust-owned spaces – bringing you and your canine pal a healthy balance in life and time out.

The three-year partnership aims to provide expert guidance on the National Trust’s ‘Dogs Welcome’ project. which helps dogs and their owners enjoy the special places cared for by the National Trust across England, Wales and Northern Ireland; rooted in the values of enjoying our open spaces, exploring the wellbeing benefits for both dogs and owners, and highlighting Forthglade’s role in nourishing these relationships.

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Time out was exactly what was needed. If there was ever a place made for hunkering down, Killerton Park Cottage offers just that.

A statuesque 1920s Lodge House that stands at one of the entrances to Killerton’s parkland. Inside, its interiors are light-filled and bright, with carefully chosen furnishings and comforting touches such as cushioned window seats and nature-inspired wallpapers.  The sitting room is one of the cosiest spaces, with a large window seat, overlooking the grounds – the perfect spot to while away the hours, watching the day unfold beyond. The television is artfully concealed, and a lovely log burner sits at the centre, perfect for cooler nights, where a basket of logs and firelighters is kindly left for your use. Your dog can also enjoy the warmth of the fire after a long walk in the surrounding countryside. A small, yet functional kitchen leads into the entranceway and dining space, again with windows overlooking the garden. It’s the kind of blissful space that invites you to relax, forget time, enjoy home-cooked hearty suppers and some good conversation.

Outside the raised patio area makes the most of the parkland views, kitted out with a large wooden table and chairs, perfect for alfresco dining and the ideal barbequing space for warmer climes.

On your doorstep you’ll find the Georgian house set in 2,600 hectares (6,400 acres) of working farmland, woods, parkland, cottages and orchards. There’s plenty of calm space in the thriving garden that is beautiful year-round with rhododendrons, magnolias, champion trees and formal lawns. Let your excitable mutt lead you through the grounds and explore the winding paths, climb an extinct volcano, discover an Iron Age hill fort, and take in distant views towards Dartmoor.

We spent our days immersed in nature, ensconced in the window seat with a good book, listening to birdsong, exploring the grounds, and surrounding countryside, before settling down to evenings cooking ourselves wholesome meals, paired with some quaffable wines in front of a roaring fire.

Sleeping in the countryside couldn’t be more peaceful, the stretched-out silence so soothing, only the sounds of wild animals rustling in the foliage and the odd owl calling through the dark. The best bit – waking up to the sounds of nature, the dappled winter light through the blinds, a low mist descending on the hilltops. The morning dog walks were no longer a chore, but between dog and human, a mutual desire to get out into the parkland and explore further, with the thrill of happening upon another area of undiscovered ground.

Myself included; I think many people are yet to realise how dog friendly a lot of the National Trust sites actually are. So, the news that Europe’s largest conservation charity have teamed up with Devon-based natural pet food makers Forthglade in partnership set to promote happier and healthier dogs, is a brilliant way to help market this to a wider audience.