ABOVE: Toby the Dalmatian poses with his Combe House Devon hotel as a backdrop.
We're suckers for anything dog-related, so when Pat Edgar of PRMatters in England sent us a press release about "Toby's Dog-Friendly Walks around Combe House Devon," our ears perked up.
It seems that Toby, the resident Dalmatian at Combe House Devon, was co-author--with his best friend and owner Alan Bartlett--of a book about "the best coast and country doggie walks for hotel guests and their four-legged friends."
(About the hotel: Combe House Devon which was recently named Devon's "Hotel of the Year," is an Elizabethan country house on a 3,500-acre estate near Exeter where Arabian horses and pheasants roam freely. The South West Coast Path, beaches between Sidmouth and Lyme Regis, and the rugged open spaces of Dartmoor are just a short drive away.)
If you're visiting Combe House Devon with your dog--and why wouldn't you?--you and Rex or Rexella can enjoy 10 walks that are graded from "easy" to "challenging," with distances ranging from half a mile to six miles. Some walks start from Combe's doorstep, while others involve a drive to a moor or beach. Dog-friendly pubs are also featured in the book.
Each walk description has icons that represent whether there's water to play in, space to run, sticks to chew, stiles to negotiate, etc. (Humans will also appreciate the symbols that show if there's parking, where "poo bins" are located, and whether livestock are present and dogs should be kept on leads.)
Pat Edgar tells us that "Highlights include a challenging walk from the Donkey Sanctuary, which warmly welcomes dogs, down to Weston Mouth Beach, a two-mile outing with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast from Golden Cap above Charmouth and an easier route near Bovy River on the edge of Dartmoor."
The Combe House book is one of a series of West Country dog-walk guides written by Toby and Alan and published by Scriven House Books. It's free to dogs who stay with their owners at their hotel. (Sadly, Toby died last Christmas, but Harry--a "roguish Scottish Deerhound"--is now leading Alan on new adventures.)
More tidbits for dogs and their companions:
At Combe House, dogs can stay with their owners for £10 per night. Some rooms open directly onto the grounds, while Combe's restored Thatch Cottage has its own large walled garden.
Dogs can "join their owners in the Great Hall and curl up in front of the huge crackling log fire." They're also welcome in the sitting rooms and cocktail bar. Complimentary "doggie room packs" include water and food bowls, treats, a chewy bone, and Toby's book.
Rates for humans start at £215 per double or twin room per night, breakfast included. A three-course dinner with canapés is £52 per person.
For more information, or to book a room, call Combe House Devon at 01404 540 400 or visit www.combehousedevon.com.
Photo: Combe House Devon.