One of the few activities that those of us in the UK have been able to enjoy all year is a good old fashioned dog walk. Even during lockdown, many pet owners and dog walkers have taken their dogs for walks and for fresh air.
Now that the winter season is upon us, pet owners who are fortunate enough to live near some of these beautiful sites can take their dogs on some of the most stunning walks this winter.
The National Trust and dog food company Forthglade have put together a list of the best dog friendly winter walks as well as tips for keeping your dog safe and comfortable. Some of the walks below are currently under different tier restrictions. For a list of local restriction tiers by area, click here.
South West region
Lizard Point: the most southerly walk (Tier 2)
Located in Cornwall, travelers and their dogs can take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean on this walk along Lizard Point, the most southerly place in Great Britain. The isolated coves along this stretch are home to colonies of grey seals. Dogs are welcome on leashes.
Tyntesfield, North Somerset (Tier 3)
Located seven miles from the centre of Bristol, Tyntesfield nestles in a tranquil landscape overlooking the Yeo valley. One of the last surviving Victorian estates in the country, the house is a masterpiece of Gothic revival style and its turrets, towers and family chapel take on a special aura in winter thanks to atmospheric mists and frost. Dogs welcome on short leashes in parts of the garden and wider estate.
Studland, Dorset (Tier 2)
Four miles of beautiful beaches line the sheltered waters of Studland Bay. The heathland is home to ticks and adders, so your dog will be safer on the path. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
South East region
White Cliffs of Dover, Kent (Tier 4)
When it is sunny and the sea is calm and smooth as glass you can wander across the cliffs and take in the breath-taking views across the channel, on the clearest of days you may even be able to see the buildings in France. It is advised to keep your dog under close control and use a leash in and around the car parks and near the unfenced sections of the cliff top.
Cliveden, Buckinghamshire (Tier 4)
Positioned on top of chalk cliffs and overlooking the River Thames, Cliveden’s magnificent gardens and woodlands offer breathtaking views that have been admired for centuries. Dogs are permitted under close control in the woodlands and on a short lead in all areas of the Cliveden estate except for The Water Garden, Parterre lawn (hotel guests are permitted to take dogs).
Polesden Lacey, Surrey (Tier 4)
Four miles from Dorking and junction 9 of the M25, Polesden Lacey has glorious views across the rolling Surrey Hills and acres of countryside to explore. Dogs welcome on short leashes in parts of the garden and wider estate.
Longshore, Burbage and the Eastern Moors, Derbyshire (Tier 3)
A countryside haven on Sheffield’s doorstep, the Peaks have a network of footpaths and bridleways. The Longshaw Estate is a gateway to the Peak District, home to ancient woods, parkland and heather moorland. Keeping your dog on a leash in the Peak District ensures that wildlife, livestock and other visitors are safe.
Attingham Park, Shropshire (Tier 2)
Cattle graze and fallow deer roam, historic trees cluster in woodland glades, and beautiful stretches of the Severn and Tern can be enjoyed. In light of the pandemic and government guidance on social distancing dogs are to be on leashes at all times while at Attingham (except for the off-leash area in the Mile Walk paddock).
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire (Tier 3)
Carved out of the ancient forests of Sherwood, Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Dogs welcome under close control.
East of England region
Ashridge, Hertfordshire (Tier 4)
With nearly 5,000 acres of woodland, rolling chalk downland and lush meadows all within close distance of the major London studios, Ashridge is a big a hit with Hollywood as with local dog walkers. Dogs welcome under close control.
Blickling Estate, Norfolk (Tier 4)
Blickling’s breathtaking Jacobean mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in the beautiful Bure meadows. Dogs welcome under close control in park.
Ickworth, Suffolk (Tier 4)
An Italianate Palace in the heart of Suffolk with over 1800 acres of parkland, gardens and brand new all-weather trail to enjoy, Ickworth is the perfect place to get back to nature. Dogs welcome on short leads (except for Italianate Garden).
Yorkshire and North East
Souter Lighthouse, Tyne and Wear (Tier 3)
Once the site of a busy mining community, the cliffs are now home instead to the solitary lighthouse and a whole host of seabirds, like fulmar and cormorant. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire (Tier 2)
Walk down the path from the visitor centre, or along from West Gate carpark and come face to face with some of the oldest abbey ruins in the country. The ruins of Fountains Abbey are truly something to behold, especially on frosty winter’s day. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Gibside, Tyne and Wear (Tier 3)
Pet parents can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life within 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside – perfect for wildlife spotting. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Claife Viewing Station and the west shore of Windermere, Lake District (Tier 2)
In Windermere, pet owners are right in the heart of the Lakes. The lakeshore path between Wray Castle and Claife Viewing station is a safe, car-free walk with lots of opportunities for pooches to paddle. Dogs welcome under close control.
Quarry Bank, Cheshire (Tier 3)
At Quarry Bank you can discover a complete industrial community and experience the very different worlds of owner and worker, who lived and worked here side by side. Pet owners are suggested to keep dogs on a leash where advised, particularly through Styal village and if entering the garden.
Speke Hall, Liverpool (Tier 2)
8 miles from the Liver Building, Speke Hall is a rare Tudor timber-framed manor house in an unusual setting on the banks of the River Mersey. Dogs welcome on short leashes in the woodland and on signed estate walks.
Divis and the Black Mountain, Co Antrim (six-week lockdown)
There’s so much to see here, both in terms of man-made sites and natural ones: Belfast’s famous dockland where the Titanic was built, buzzards and kestrels hovering over the open fields, aeroplanes flying beneath you and then coming in to land at George Best City and Aldergrove International airports. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Castle Ward, County Down (six-week lockdown)
Walking through this 820-acre walled demesne takes you along trails that wind their way through atmospheric woodland, parkland and gardens, offering impressive views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Rowallane Garden, County Down (six-week lockdown)
A mix of formal and informal spaces with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. Dogs welcome on short leashes.
Stackpole, Pembrokeshire (alert level 4)
Footpaths stretch down from the former grand estate Stackpole Court, across dramatic cliffs to some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, including Broad Haven South, Barafundle Bay and Stackpole Quay. Dogs welcome under close control.
Erddig, Wrexham (alert level 4)
For over 300 years visitors have been welcomed to explore the parkland at Erddig. The Yorke family did not want to hide their beautiful estate away, understanding the value of nature to the health and wellbeing of their local community. Dogs welcome on short leash in parkland.
Plas Newydd House and Garden, Anglesey (alert level 4)
Perfectly positioned on the shore of the Menai Strait with spectacular views of Snowdonia and Anglesey coastline, Plas Newydd is surrounded by Grade-I listed gardens. At Plas Newydd dogs are free to visit almost all areas of the gardens and grounds, including the areas outside the 300-year-old mansion, the Rhododendron Garden and Camellia Dell. The only area off limits to canine companions is the house itself and the Terraced Garden, where the precise planting demands that it is kept a paw free zone. Dogs welcome on short leads (excluding Terraced Garden).
Visitors are urged to check local and national government guidelines before traveling. Some National Trust properties may require or advise that admission is booked in advance to guarantee entry – check the relevant property web pages for the latest information. Furthermore, different restrictions for dog walking apply at National Trust places and at different times of year – check the relevant property web pages for the latest information.
Top tips for a winter walk
- During the winter months, it’s important to get as much natural sunlight as possible – it helps reduce the feelings of seasonal affective disorder for us humans, as well as keeping our dog’s natural circadian rhythms in order.
- Much like us humans pre exercise, it’s always important to let your dog warm up its muscles at the start of a walk, but never more so than in cold weather.
- When heading out for longer daytime walks remember always to take water for your dog, even on colder days. Popping some towels or a drying coat into your car is a good way to ensure your dog doesn’t get cold on the journey home
- With reduced light in winter a torch not only allows you to be seen but also means you can safely see in front of you, avoiding trip hazards. Attaching a light to your dog’s collar or harness helps too as does wearing bright clothing.
- Where possible, if it’s going to be an exceptionally muddy walk, then pop your dog into a fleece or coat to protect them from getting coated in mud.
- Avoid using outside taps to hose off your dog as in colder weather the water temperature can really drop. It’s also advisable to prevent your dog from swimming in water on bitterly cold days, as this can cause shock or hypothermia.
- If you need to use your bath to wash your dog, make sure there’s something in the base for their paws to grip onto, such as a bath mat and add some tasty treats to make the experience positive and fun
To find out more about walks at the National Trust click here.