During a recent survey, we asked our readers to name their favourite place in the country to walk with their four-legged friend. The results are in!
New Forest, Hampshire
With very few restrictions, New Forest National Park is the perfect haven for dog walkers. With a range of routes that include heathland, woodland and coastlines, it’s a great place to exercise. One reader said, “beautiful countryside and I love stumbling across the deer and other wildlife. Plenty for my dog to sniff!”
Dog-friendly attractions include the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst and Exbury Gardens just outside of Beaulieu. Once you’re done exploring, there are plenty of nearby dog-friendly pubs to cool down in. Find out more on the New Forest website.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
The Jurassic Coastline spans 95 miles and is steeped in history. There’s plenty to see, from clifftop views to sea-level sections where you can even have your own fossil hunt. Dogs are permitted along the route but remember to keep dogs away from cliff edges. Some beaches along the route do have dog bans during summer but you are still permitted to cross these if you are following the trail with your dog on a lead. You can search for dog-friendly walks on the South West Coastal Path website.
Durham Heritage Coast
The Durham Heritage Coast covers 11 miles of grassland and coastline from Seaham in the north to Crimdon in the south. Since the coal mining pits were closed in the early 1990s considerable effort has been put into restoring the coastal grasslands. You may still see remnants of the colliery spoil. There are also lots of dog-friendly beaches and smaller circular walks along the route including the Castle Eden Dene nature reserve. Find out more on the Durham Heritage Coast website.
Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
If you’re happy to ignore the supposed sightings of Black Dogs, Werewolves, UFOs and even Big Foot, then Cannock Chase is a beautiful place to go for woodland walkies. Dogs are welcome throughout Cannock Chase Forest, except the play area and food service area. Take the Fairoak trail where you’ll find a pool on route for your dog to cool off in (don’t allow your dog in the fishponds). You can also try the exciting dog activity challenge located on the Concert field to test your dog’s ability.
Shropshire – Long Mynd or Attingham Park
The picturesque county of Shropshire was named many times in our survey but two places that were particularly popular were the 18th Century mansion and estate at Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, and the Long Mynd, Shropshire Hills. Although assistance dogs are the only four legs allowed inside the mansion and indoor space, dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome to explore the outside of Attingham Park. Check out the walled garden and parkland before seeking some refreshment in the outdoor seating of the mansion cafe. If you fancy something more challenging, hike to the top of the Long Mynd for a stunning vast view of Shropshire.
The Norfolk coast is blessed with beautiful beaches and coastline suitable for picturesque walks with your dog. There are many sand dunes, pinewoods and rock pools to explore. Don’t miss the striped cliffs of Old Hunstanton or take a walk along one of the footpaths, such as the Norfolk Coast Path or the Marriott’s Way. Active Norfolk also run weekly informal walks you can take your dog to.
There are many areas of the Lake District to explore, young and old, which is why it is such a popular holiday destination for people in the UK. One dog owner offers advice for fellow walkers, “It’s an easy, if long, stroll, so just take your time and enjoy the woodland and wildlife along the way.”
Lake District National Park has tips and walks for dog walkers on their website. Take the eight mile walk around Derwentwater lake or visit Grasmere Water, at the foot of some spectacular fells.
Hampstead Heath is a perfectly preserved paradise in London covering 320 hectares. It is one of the highest points in the city providing some spectacular views of London’s skyline. There are fields for your dog to run in and it’s a firm favourite among picnickers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The South Devon coast offers a range of dog-friendly walks, many of which include dog-friendly beaches and pubs. The Southwest Coast Path is an easy walk which takes you along the high clifftops with some breathtaking views. Or you could try the more challenging Soar to Salcombe, but your reward is the hidden dog-friendly beach of Soar Mill Cove.
Yorkshire has a huge offering of sandy dog-friendly beaches for your dog to enjoy. WelcometoYorkshire.com have even collated a list of their favourite coastal walks. If you’re heading close to Scarborough, there’s also a dog-friendly cafe bar and bistro called The BellyRub offering tapas, light bites, scrumptious cakes – and hopefully belly rubs!