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17 October 2021

a dog-friendly weekend in Lincoln

with international travel still on hold for many (including myself) for the best part of two years now, i've joined the millions of others looking to partake in uk staycations this year instead of getting abroad. for me, it feels safer still, it's a lot more convenient, and it solves the problem of "what do i do with my dog while i go away?" as well. this time though, instead of heading to the coast with the rest of those chasing the last of the summer sun, i decided to spend my birthday weekend exploring a new-to-me city in the uk; one that's been at the top of the list for ages thanks to it's history, impressive landmarks, and "pretty city" status on instagram:

i'll admit i knew very little of the city before planning began, other than its cobbled stones, gothic cathedral, and minimal distance from London - 2 hours max from king's cross direct to Lincoln, which is just long enough for me, especially with a small dog in tow! this was my first solo trip with just me and Peanut, so i was glad to not be toooo far away in case it all became a bit tooooo hard to manage. he and i have done days out on trains before, but there'd always been a car at the other end (or a bed), so this was our first time travelling somewhere long-distance. 

another reason for picking Lincoln was that the tourism website has a section dedicated to dog-friendly stays, and so it seemed the perfect place to start our solo adventures! let me tell you all about it..


we travelled up with LNER, because they offer a faster, more direct route from London to Lincoln - bang on two hours. we were really lucky to travel on one of the new Azuma trains, which are nice and spacious, have incredible wi-fi and plug sockets built into every seat. the carrier has also pioneered at-seat ordering in standard class via the new LNER app, which lets passengers order from their phones using a QR code, and have their order delivered directly to their seat.

LNER are also very dog-friendly, and Peanut was treated like a king on both trips up, and back. on the way up, he was fine to sit on a seat next to me (on his blanket) without any concern, though on the way back the train manager told me he was only allowed on the floor. he didn't love being on the floor as it's louder there and maybe a bit scarier, so i spent a bit of time on the floor with him on the way back too, to keep him calm. he was fussed over so much though, by one member of staff in particular, whose job it was to carry out the cleaning and sterilisation between stations. he was so lovely to Pea and made him feel a lot more calm than those just walking past all the time, so we really were grateful to him (and for him making sure the carriage was very clean for us too!).

advanced return fares start from £66.80 in first, and £28.80 in standard - dogs don't need a ticket.


there were a number of options that listed themselves as "dog friendly" in Lincoln, which was great to see! i was there for three nights, and the first night i stayed at a lovely boutique hotel called The Tower Hotel. the property is set in the historic Bailgate area of the Cathedral Quarter, and has 15 lovely en-suite rooms to choose from. it also has an amazing restaurant on site called No38 which has some of the best food i've had in ages (delivered straight to your room, if you so choose!). Peanut was more than welcome to join me for breakfast and dinner in the courtyard, just not the inside dining rooms - which was fine, as the weather was wonderful anyway!

our room was small, as it was a single room i grabbed with late notice, so i makeshifted a dog bed for Peanut out of the chair and some cushions so he could sleep near me but not on me (he still came and slept on me, but it was nice while it lasted!). we were in an attic room, so the window was also quite small and meant he couldn't people watch which is his fave past time, so i definitely know for future what to look out for in a hotel room when i'm taking a doggo with me. it was perfectly comfortable, if not very warm up there, but we were knackered and slept like dogs!

on the second and third nights i stayed at
The White Hart hotel, which was only a short stroll from The Tower, and which also had doggy biscuits waiting for Peanut at reception! The White Hart took the whole doggy friendly thing to another level with the treats at reception, and dog bowls available on request, and inside the room when i checked in was a special note for Peanut to welcome him to the hotel and basically say he was as welcome as anyone else - which i thought was a nice touch!

we were really lucky to have been upgraded to a very spacious suite this time around (i think a birdy told them it was my birthday), and so there was much more room for Peanut to explore and get comfy, rather than sharing a single bed with me. he was able to see out of the windows this time, and i was able to put his food away from his bed, so he was able to do relax a bit more.. who knew dogs could be so fussy!

the restaurant on site does not allowed dogs in it, but the restaurant was more than happy to send food up to the room so i could eat meals in peace and quiet up there, and even sent extra bits of breakfast for the pup to eat as well. every time we ran into someone who worked in the hotel, i got the question: "is this Peanut?!" - he was very warmly welcomed, and we could not have asked for more attention!

in both cases though, our room was at the top of the property, so if your dog is older, or less mobile than my energetic puppy, be sure to ask for a room closer to the ground. particularly in the case of The White Hart, which has one of those token vintage lifts in it made for no more than two people, which was noisy and clunky, and scared the life out of Peanut a little. we opted to take the four flights of stairs (down, but not up because i'm lazy), or i had to sit on the ground with him to keep him calm! it'd be easier to get a room closer to the ground! (though, the view from the top of The White Hart.. woah, incredible! below are from the windows of my room!)

quick note on the Cathedral Quarter and the area called Bailgate: it is at the top of a road called Steep Hill. i know the hint should have been in the name, but folks: it was steep, and we walked up it on a 25 degree day, me with a backpack, doggy-pack and dog, and it was hard. so, be prepared, or get a cab from the train station! the walk down is lovely, and the view from the top is gorgeous. just the walk itself? yikes!


there are so many things to do with a dog! but, one weekend every month, the gorgeous Lincoln Castle is open to dogs, so that's where we started. during this one dog-friendly weekend, pups of all shapes and sizes are allowed inside the castle, Victorian prison, and on the walk around the medieval wall ruins too. so if your pup is into history, then this is a great place to visit.

the castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, and holds so much history within - not just of Lincoln, but of England too. while in the castle, you can see Lincoln's Magna Carta, Charter of the Forest and the Great Charter Wall - real life piece of history! there are guided tours of the castle daily, which i would definitely recommend if you're anything like me and prefer to hear history than read it.

Lincoln Castle is open 7 days a week, and adult castle day tickets start from £14.50 (dogs don't need a ticket)

speaking of walking tours, i was lucky enough to also take a private guided tour of of the historic city with Hidden Lincoln. our guide was so incredible knowledgeable about Lincoln (despite not being from there originally!), and even brought snacks in his pocket for Peanut (nothing for me, boo!). our guide Ivan took us around the Bailgate area, and around the Cathedral Quarter, and gave us the lowdown on the entire history of the city - right back to the vikings, through to the Magna Carta, Kings and Queens, Tennyson, right up to modern day. 

we did not go in to the Cathedral, though i would have liked to, we just ran out of time/opportunities. it was my plan to go on the Sunday, not actually thinking that Sunday would be an actual service day, but also there was a memorial being held that day for the local police so it was mostly closed to the public. then on Monday, i totally forgot/was on the phone to my mum for my birthday than it just.. didn't happen. I do think the walking tour usually goes inside though, and it was a lovely way to spend an early afternoon, so i highly recommend taking a spin with Ivan.

find more info on Hidden Lincoln walking tours here.

and one last highlight was the beautiful Doddington Hall and Gardens. again, dogs are more than welcome - in most parts of the property. they can roam the grounds (on lead, of course), and are also welcome in the onsite cafe, the bauble barn (more on that soon), and in the lifestyle shop as well. they aren't allowed in the actual stately home or the manicured gardens, which is a shame as a lot of stately homes and listed properties with gardens have no problems with dogs, but it is what it is. it did limit what i was able to visit, as i would have loved to visit the house and gardens, but it just wasn't possible.

there are a number of gorgeous walking trails for humans and dogs alike to take, from an easy river walk to up to a few hours walking around the property, but Peanut was like a wild thing with all the new smells and sights he was experiencing, and it was a bit overwhelming for us both. we did take a wander around the bauble barn - the property's own Christmas shop, and picked up some decorations and gifts, as well as a spot of shopping in the lifestyle store, and grabbed some tasty treats from the farm shop too.

there were loads of other dogs there for Peanut to play with or socialise with, which was lovely! and there was coffee and cake, which is always a winner for me. if you do plan to take your dog, you will also want to take a car! i'd had a return taxi booked, giving myself a few hours on site to take it all in. but, with Peanut playing up and me being frustrated, i would have liked to go home sooner than planned - and that just wasn't possible with the local cab service (very busy day, no cabs available) - so we just sat under a tree in the shade for an hour or so waiting it out, while i tried to calm Peanut down. so, take your own car! plenty of parking on site.

the grounds are free to visit, but the house and gardens will require a ticket - adult entry from £12


right-o, so, i did have a lot of room service as it was just *easier* than trying to take Peanut out for food. he's still not great in cafes and pubs, so a whole meal out would have pushed me over the edge, i think. but, there were loooooads of dog friendly foodie options to choose from, which was awesome to see! in fact, there's a whole list of them on the Visit Lincoln site - check that out for a comprehensive list!

on the first night the room service from No38 at the Tower Hotel blew my mind. no photographic evidence as i was starving and it was demolished. but, truly delicious food! on the last night, i grabbed takeaway from a place the lovely Becky from Visit Lincoln had recommended me the day before, a pizza spot called Dough Loco. this restaurant started as a pop-up in a garden after the founders were furloughed last year, and then did so well they now have a permanent spot! it was cheap, cheerful, and did take away cans of IPA. happy days!

a couple of the other places i had my eye on for meals were: The Wig and Mitre pub for local Lincoln sausage and mash, The Cosy Club and The Curiosity Shop for some fancy cocktails and craft gins. and Doughnotts for the best doughnuts in the land. i did actually grab some doughnuts for the train on the way back, and i can confirm they were exquisite!


the lifeblood of any (human) dog mum: coffee. there is a coffee roastery in Lincoln so there is some really great coffee in most coffee shops - Stokes is the brand you want to look out for. Stokes have a couple of their own coffee shops too dotted around the city, so you will be drowning in tasty coffee options - a nice problem to have!

then there's Doughnotts. not only do they sell delicious doughnuts, they also sell deeelicious coffee - 200degrees coffee, which is another local (Nottingham) roast. 200degrees do have their own cafe in the Cornhill Quarter, but it isn't dog friendly, unlike Doughnotts, so kill two birds with one stone and just go there!

the good news for coffee drinkers is, there are looooads of coffee shops (and tea rooms) around Lincoln, some of the others i noted were: Coffee by the Arch, Sanctuary in the Bail, and Happy Culture Cafe, which is also totally vegan.


up in the Bailgate area there were LOADS of cute independent boutiques and local crafty shops, so many were dog friendly too, which was fab. the architecture is all really cutesy and old, so a lot of the facades have been painted in bright colours too, which just gives this area so much character and appeal. it all basically starts around the area of The Strait and Narrow, right up into Bailgate and the Cathedral Quarter. think quirky bookshops, local produce, and middle-class boujie goods - the holy trinity!

then you have the high street back down around the Cornhill Quarter, where you have the Central Market as well as all the shops you know and love - dotted amongst these are some indy shops too, to keep your eyes peeled for them.

and there are also TONS of charity shops in both areas too - a lot of these weirdly did not allow dogs inside, which is a shame as trawling charity shops is one of my fave things to do when out and about around the country - especially when you're in Joules and Barbour country! lots of quality finds in the counties!


truth be told - i was definitely a bit nervous about taking him away on my own, but i packed up a bag full of snacks and his favourite toys, his settle mat, water bowl and a few things from home to keep him occupied on the train, and to allow him to settle in the rooms we had booked for our three nights away. i'm not going to lie - it wasn't the easiest of trips in terms of spontaneity - Peanut very much is still a pup and needs lots of sleep still, and being in a new place meant i couldn't just leave him in the room to chill and nap while i went exploring, which meant i too had to stay in the room and chill with him. that's not my fave thing to do in a new city, i would love to have explored the shops and cafes a bit more, but many of charity shops and boutiques had "no dogs allowed" in the windows, so i wasn't able to with him in tow.

having him there and me just being on my own just sort of meant i had to think about every little thing in advance, and make sure the plan was puppy-appropriate. thankfully, in most cases, they were - which made Lincoln the paw-fect place for our first Me and Pea trip away. keen to explore the Lincolnshire countryside next!

*this was a press trip in association with Visit Lincolnshire; all train travel was arranged by LNER.

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