DOG-FRIENDLY COTTAGE REVIEW: Letheringham Water Mill, Easton


WHAT’S THE SCOOP? Want to holiday somewhere stylish with your dog? Let them off-lead safe in the knowledge they won’t escape? Have a whole host of four-legged friends lined up as playmates? Then you’ve come to the right place. The award-winning cottages at Letheringham Water Mill are truly dog-friendly, rather than just dog-tolerant. Set in the peaceful Suffolk countryside, the five cottages – which sleep from two to eight – are perfect for pet owners.

IMG_20181217_123320_517ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Oh yes. It would be a struggle to find somewhere that welcomes pets as much as Letheringham Water Mill. According to the guestbook in our cottage, one holidaymaker has returned with their pooch 14 times in two years. That should tell you everything you need to know!

Dogs stay for free in all of the cottages onsite and each one has a personalised wooden crate, packed with blankets, treats, toys, bowls and poo bags. It also doubles as a handy dog bed, if you’ve forgotten to pack your own.

Pets are welcome to roam free in the grounds as the river and mill pond act as a natural boundary – but if you prefer to keep a close eye on your dog while still enjoying the fresh country air, make the most of the baby gates provided, which double up as dog protectors. Honestly, owners Richard and Jacqui have truly thought of everything.

LoungeAND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Relax in one of the five super-stylish cottages, all of which have been individually designed. We stayed in the Woodshed – a romantic hideaway for two with wood-panelled walls and tasteful dog-themed decor. The accommodation is all one on level so there are no stairs to worry about, and the quirky decorative touches are great. I particularly loved the dog crockery and puppy prints, not to mention the kitchen clock with a wagging tail.

The first thing you see when you enter the cottage is the hi-spec handmade kitchen. It’s incredibly well-equipped and even comes with a washing machine – handy for those longer stays. The cosy lounge invites you to sit down and relax with one of the local magazines provided. Alternatively, you could spend hours poring over the information pack put together by the owners, which is one of the most comprehensive I’ve come across. There’s even a special dog-friendly section at the back.

In the mornings, it’s great to admire the river views from the comfort of your bed then clean up in the stylish en-suite shower room, which has a sweet-smelling range of citrus toiletries created especially for Letheringham Water Mill. If the weather is good, you can also make the most of the patio area outside. Access the deck via double doors from the bedroom or the kitchen area.

20181216_185214HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? The cottages at Letheringham Water Mill are provided on a self-catering basis so you’ll need to provide your own food and drink. Guests are, however, treated to a lovely welcome pack – ours included all the essentials such as tea, coffee and milk, as well as a packet of shortbread biscuits shaped like Scottie dogs, sparkling water and a bottle of champagne.

Pets are warmly welcomed in most pubs and cafes though, so if you don’t feel like cooking, you certainly won’t starve! The nearest pub is the Easton White Horse, a ten-minute walk away. This lovely country inn serves high-quality pub food and has regular specials. At the time of our visit, it served authentic Malaysian food every Tuesday.

In Framlingham, the friendly team at The Lemon Tree bistro were happy to cook a sausage for Ernie, and The Castle Inn had a big jar of dog treats on the bar. I can also highly recommend a trip to The Dog at Grundisburgh, a traditional Suffolk pub which was voted the UK’s best in the 2018 DogBuddy Dog-Friendly Pub Awards. As well as a selection of toys, visiting pets are also treated to a big bowl of biscuits. Impressive!

Suffolk Wedding Portrait & Commercial PhotographerANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? Oh yes. Resident Labradoodles Teddy and Amber will be on-hand to check you in. When we arrived, they came bounding up to the car to say hello, which was great. Burmese cat Eel also lives at the mill – I saw him, but luckily Ernie didn’t!

We did, however, meet several other dogs staying on the site and because letting them off-lead is actively encouraged, they can pick and choose their playmates. Ernie loved it – and when he went bounding into someone else’s cottage after their puppy, all we heard were shrieks of laughter instead of just shrieks, despite his wet and muddy paws.

20181216_123043WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? The mill itself is set in seven acres of land that is perfect for sniffing around. There are formal gardens and enclosed fields to explore, not to mention wild woodland copses, overlooked by the animals at neighbouring dog-friendly attraction, Easton Farm Park.

The roads around nearby Easton are all very quiet but there’s a nice circular walk you can do along the banks of the River Deben that takes in quiet lanes, grassy tracks and Letheringham Priory. It’s roughly 5.5-miles long – check out the route recommended by the East Anglian Daily Times.

Historic Framlingham is also close by and home to “The Castle on the Hill” that Ed Sheeran sang about. Owned by English Heritage, Framlingham Castle (above) is incredibly dog-friendly and you can walk the walls for great views over the mere. Adult tickets start from £9.50. If it’s beaches you’re after, though, head to the Suffolk Heritage Coast. Check out my Ruff Guide for more ideas for things to see and do in the area.

IMG_20181216_143651_343WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Meeting the other residents, being off-lead all the time, the lovely doggy welcome pack

WHAT I LOVED: The peaceful location, knowing that Ernie could safely roam free, the stylish dog trinkets in the cottage

GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: The Woodshed at Letheringham Water Mill sleeps two. Prices start from £99 a night. For more information, call 01728 747186, see the official website or book via Airbnb by clicking here.

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