LYME'S GOT IT RIGHT! By Lee Connor
Writing this, looking out of the window at the leaden skies and splinters of rain, it seems unbelievable that just a few days ago we basked in warm sunshine under cloudless blue skies. We took advantage and headed to the Dorset/Devon border for the weekend (with the Boston girls).
Obviously we paid a visit to lovely Lyme Regis. This place looks beautiful at all times of the year but especially so when the sun is shining and, of course, on top of its glorious natural setting, it is one of the most dog friendly places in the country.
Walking around the town it struck me, ‘How on earth can one town get it so right… while others fail so miserably?’
Dropping in at one of our favourite little shops – The Pug and Puffin – reinforced that feeling, as we were handed a little pamphlet, ‘A Guide to Dog Friendly Lyme Regis.’
This simple and beautifully produced pamphlet listed all the dog friendly pubs, cafes and restaurants in the town, but not only that, it gave each establishment a ‘bone rating’.
Three bones denotes, ‘good dogs are very welcome, come on in!’
Two bones, ‘well behaved dogs only please.’
One bone, ‘check first! May only be allowed in outside areas.’
This system is perfect and sidesteps the rather awkward questioning, ‘Is it okay to bring the dog inside?’ Especially so, when the answer is ‘no’ and one has to leave with your metaphorical tail between your legs!
On top of this very clever business listing this little pamphlet also includes an easy to follow map (which includes cartoon like images of town resident’s dogs, who you may encounter as you walk around). It also features dog friendly walks and the town’s dog friendly beaches are clearly listed.
Lyme Regis has realised the vital contribution dog owners can make to the economy (all year round) and it is lovely to be in a town that really makes you and your dog feel so welcome.
After Lyme Regis we drove along the coast, spending a night in Plymouth (a surprisingly dog welcoming city) and then visited a Cornish resort. Sadly, the difference between this place and Lyme Regis was startling. Dogs weren’t welcome in the majority of the towns coffee shops/eateries and nor were they allowed on the town’s beach. It was a very disappointing visit and of course we won’t be returning. Obviously I’m fully aware that not everyone likes to have dogs around them when they are eating/drinking or sitting on a beach but Lyme has successfully managed to satisfy the demands of all parties and if you are on the board of one of our many failing coastal resorts and are desperately trying to think up ways of encouraging more people to visit, may I suggest you think of the dog owner and visit Lyme Regis for the blueprint of how a successful coastal town should be run for all.