From its rolling hills and lavish parks to panoramic beaches, the UK certainly isn’t short of fantastic dog walking locations. However, finding a route that’s suitable all-year-round is often tricky; especially during the Winter months. But this doesn’t mean your dog should be denied a ’pawesome’ day out!
Heading away this Christmas? Well, UK holiday parks operator Away Resorts have recently discovered the South East is the most dog-friendly UK region in terms of walks, accommodation and pubs. For those planning on heading elsewhere, the findings also revealed that Northumberland (North East), Wiltshire (South West) and Nottinghamshire (East Midlands) are home to some of the best dog walking hotspots too, so there are plenty to choose from!
With this in mind, here are the top 10 UK walks you can take your beloved pooch on during the festive season.
- Brean Beach, Somerset
Image source: https://discoverbrean.co.uk/brean-beach/
Brean Beach is located just two miles down the coast from Western-super-Mare. These three miles stretch of sand and dunes is actually one of the longest in Europe and to top it off, dogs are allowed to roam off-lead on Brean Beach all year round! It’s undoubtably one of the most four-legged friendly coastal areas.
However, it is advised to avoid walking on the beach when the tide is out as this is when dangerous stretches of mud are exposed. The beach is best to be explored a few hours either side of the high tide.
Image source: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2659724
Got a more energetic dog? Why not take a stroll towards Brean Down, a 97-metre-high headland that gives you a beautiful, dramatic view of Somerset’s countryside and the Bristol Channel? There’s also a 1.5-mile natural pier – the greatest in Somerset. They’ll certainly be tired out after this! But please note dogs have to be kept on leads at all times on Brean Down as the cliffs are very steep.
Take a trip to the café once you’ve finished your walk to re-energise and put your feet (or paws) up. Water bowls are provided in the spacious outdoor seating area and beach huts. Picnic areas are also available if you want to pack a lunch.
Brean Beach is a 20minute drive (approx.) from Weston-super-Mare, the closest town. Car parks are pay and display.
- Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
Based near Hebden Bridge, Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful woodland valley with the 19th century Gibson Mill at its heart. With 400 acres of unspoilt woodland to explore it’s the perfect place for pooches who love to sniff around forests and climb hilly terrain – all off the lead.
You can choose from more than 15 miles of footpaths. There are also plenty of streams and shallow rivers running throughout – great stopping points for dogs to splash around. No livestock is around either, so your dogs won’t be tempted to chase anything.
Then, stop off at Gibson Mill to grab a bite to eat, all made from locally sourced produce. Or take a seat in one of their many picnic areas. Dogs are welcome too of course!
Parking is pay and display, however, National Trust Members can park for free. Toilets are available on site.
- Duddo Stone Circle, Northumberland
Image source: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5740202
The village of Duddo in Northumberland is home to the Duddo Five Stones – a Bronze Age stone circle that’s approximately 4,000 years old.
If you’re staying in Duddo, this short but enjoyable walk is deal for older dogs (and ones that simply prefer a short stroll).
Dogs are allowed to roam off the lead and the surrounding countryside is ideal for a game of fetch. There’s no need to worry about getting lost as the walking routes are very clearly marked along paths. It’s a green paradise for your four-legged friend.
The circle is accessible via the B5364 road through a gate. The stones are on private land, however the owner has created a permissive path across the field to the stones.
Parking limited on the grass verge, but it’s considerably quieter in the winter. Be sure not to miss the road signs!
- Shearwater Lake, Wiltshire
Image source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1858448
Got a dog that loves being by water? Why not take a waterside walk around the 37 acre Shearwater Lakewhich is located on Longleat Estate. This area is a fabulous mixture of hilly and flat terrains surrounded by towering flora and fauna.
For dogs who do not wish to go far, there is a short walk that goes around the lake. But for breeds with bundles of energy to burn, take the walk extension which can take up to 1 hour and 30 minutes approx.
Image source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/445097
You could even head west and take the trail up to Heaven’s Gate for some spectacular views over towards Longleat House.
Visitors can enjoy refreshments at the lakeside café, where doggy refreshments are also provided.
Please note – dogs are not allowed in or off lead around the main lake to avoid disturbing fishermen, but there are designated areas where dogs are encouraged to have a good splash about.
- Stoke Park Woods, Hampshire
Image source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/895167
Located just outside the village of Bishopstoke, Stoke Park Woods is a firm favourite with dog loving residents. Full of off-road paths and walkways, you could walk your dog here every day and they’ll never run out of areas to explore and smells to discover.
In a recent study by Away Resorts, who provide holiday parks in the New Forest, Hampshire was voted as one of the top dog-friendly regions in the UK. So this is certainly the go-to place if you’re looking for a ’pawesome’ break.
A walk from one end to the other is estimated to take 1.5-2 hours. Or, if your pooch fancies an extended run, you could take the five miles worth of pathways and routes around Stoke Park Wood, Crowdhill Copse and Upperbarn Copse.
The woods are renowned for becoming very muddy and boggy in wet weather so be sure to bring towels to wipe your dog down. Dogs are also advised to watch out for the stagnant water puddles en route if they want to avoid needing a bath!
There are plenty of dog poo bins in the car park and either end of the woods, so there is no need to leave a mess behind.
Stone Park Woods can be found by taking Underwood Drive up to Colchester Avenue, turning right on to Stoke Park Road.
- Cudmore Grove Country Park, Essex
Image source: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3604253
At the eastern end of Mersea Island Cudmore Grove Country Park is a beautiful place for both coastal and country walks.
With over 120 acres of flatland your canine companion will have plenty of space to explore, enjoy and relax. There is also a beautiful sandy beach that’s dog-friendly all year round where dogs can roll around and even have a swim too!
You can also take a walk along the sea wall, crossing the grasslands and crumbling cliffs into the low-lying marshland. But please be careful around these areas.
Although seating in the on-site cafés are limited, visitors can enjoy picnics practically anywhere.
The park is free to enter; however parking is pay and display per hour.
- Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire
Just three miles from Nottingham City Centre, Wollaton Hall is set in 500 acres of breath-taking gardens and parkland. Built in 1580s, it’s one of the UK’s finest Grade One listed Elizabethan mansions. But despite its impressive formality, the hall is extremely welcoming to all; especially dogs.
Dogs can be let off the lead anywhere on the grounds apart from fenced-in areas where the park’s deer herd graze, but this is clearly signposted. Dogs can choose from woodland or large open grass lawns to run around and play in. There’s also a stunning lake where dogs can swim, but again, avoid the parts occupied by the water fowl.
The hall has plenty of on-site facilities, including several cafés , a shop and even a kid’s play area – great for those heading on a family day out.
With no entrance fee and cheap parking, Wollaton Hall is not to be missed.
- Welcombe Hills, Warwickshire
Image source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1279875
Known as ’Shakespeare Country’, Welcombe Hills offer tranquil dog walks through vast areas of grassland and woodland. Popular with the locals, it’s a fantastic place for meeting fellow dog lovers.
There are loads of different pathways, all nicely signed and plenty of traces of countryside critters to keep any dog’s nose busy. Dogs are allowed to roam off lead, however at times there are cows in neighbouring fields or the occasional horse rider, so keep an eye out.
There is free parking in a small pull-in on Ingon Lane, with space for about 4-5 cars.
- Sence Valley Forest Park, Leicestershire
Set in 150 acres of picturesque woodland, lakes, wildflower meadows and grassland, it’s hard to believe Sence Valley Forest Park used to be an open cast mine. Now a roomy park with an abundance of trails, hills and parkland, it will make the perfect day out for your four-legged friend.
It’s also home to the River Sence and three major lakes, so dogs who love a swim will certainly be in their element.
Please be aware the park is popular for its horse-riding trails, so dog owners are advised to keep an eye out if walking off lead.
Toilets facilities are available in several spots around the park. Speaking of toilets, there are also several dog bins and free waste bags, so please pick up your mess! Parking can be found at the two designated car parks – one just outside the entrance and the other on top of the hill.
- Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Stretching over 9,158 acres from Wells-next-the-Sea to Burnham Overy, Holkham Beach is considered to be one of the UK’s most picturesque beaches. The peaceful, free-roaming nature of the beach makes it perfect for dogs to run around freely; especially in the quieter winter months.
Take a walk with your pooch along the miles of beach and between the dunes. Or, use the footpath behind the pinewood forest to venture even further.
A word of caution: as Holkham Beach is also a nature reserve, dogs have to be kept on the lead when taking the inland path. It’s popular with horse-riders too as it’s the chosen location of the Household Cavalry, who holiday with their horses here each year.
Pay and display parking is available on Lady Anne’s Drive, but you can park for free by approaching from either Wells or Burnham Overy Staithe.