WHAT’S THE SCOOP? Newchurch Nook is the kind of place I dream of building – if only I had the practical skills. But enterprising owners Lisa and Rob have done a fantastic job with this lovely little lodge in the grounds of their home, Cedar Cottage. The rustic chalet, which sleeps two, is perfectly placed for exploring the Isle of Wight, being surrounded by lush countryside yet just a 15-minute drive from the county town of Newport. It’s right on the Red Squirrel Trail, too. More on that later.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Most definitely. Visiting doggos have the run of a secure south-facing garden which has lots of established plants, a patio and gravelled areas to explore. Water bowls are provided, as well as old towels to wipe down muddy paws.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? The open-plan lodge is the perfect place to retreat to. Much of the furniture has been lovingly hand-crafted or restored, especially in the kitchen, which has a rustic, country vibe. The on-trend sage green units are packed with everything you need for a short break and you can enjoy your meals on a handy dining table for two.
The cosy lounge area is right next to the wood burner and on the other side, you’ll find an inviting bed with garden views. If the weather doesn’t play ball during your visit, take your pick from a selection of books and DVDs or log in to the free wifi to research rainy day options. There is also a safe store for bikes, should you and your four-legged friend be travelling on two wheels.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? This is a self-catering lodge so you’ll need to bring your own food but the owners provide a handy welcome pack to get you started, with fresh eggs, milk, cereal and so on.
If you don’t fancy cooking though, never fear – there are a whole host of eateries within walking distance. In one direction is The Garlic Farm, which serves everything from gut-busting breakfasts to garlic ice cream, while in the other is The Pointer Inn – one of the most popular pubs on the island. It is dog-friendly but can get very busy so if your four-legged friend is a little on the large side, be warned.
Pedallers, on the Red Squirrel Trail, is well worth checking out too, for coffee and a cake or a big breakfast. This quaint, dog-friendly cafe is a two-minute walk from Newchurch Nook and as the name suggests, it’s a big hit with cyclists.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? A friendly Basset hound called Honey lives in the main house and if she’s around, will likely say hello.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? The lodge is right next to the Isle of Wight’s Red Squirrel Trail – a fantastic network of paved pathways through the beautiful countryside. In all, the trail runs for 23 miles from East Cowes to Sandown and it is mostly traffic-free as it follows the old railway line. It is popular with both walkers and cyclists and when we visited, we were lucky enough to experience an art trail, too.
From Newchurch Nook, it’s around 2.5miles to the coastal town of Sandown via the trail but even if you only explore a small section, it’s incredibly scenic and peaceful – and who knows? You might even spot one of the elusive red squirrels that are native to the island. We saw quite a few! To visit our Ruff Guide to the Isle of Wight, which is packed with information about where to go and what to do with your dog, click here.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Exploring his very own garden, hunting for red squirrels
WHAT I LOVED: Curling up in front of the wood burner, being so close to the Pointer Inn
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: A one-night stay at Newchurch Nook starts from £60. For more information or to book a break, call 01983 865238 or click here.