Epping Forest, Essex
Distance: 10.2 km
Walking Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Once home to a royal hunting ground in Tudor times, Epping Forest straddles the border between London and Essex, with more than 6,000 acres of vast woodland and bursting with wildlife. There are several dog walking routes to follow, but one of the most scenic has to be the Oak Trail which starts at Theydon Bois underground station. From there, the signposted route is easy to follow and passes through beautiful surroundings, including fields, babblings brooks and a deer sanctuary. A great option whatever the weather, Epping Forest can be reached in just under an hour from central London.
Leith Hill, Dorking
Distance: 2-4 km
Walking Time: 1-2 Hours (depending on route)
Located in the picturesque town of Dorking in Surrey, Leith Hill has a great selection of dog walking route for those looking to escape the city. With several trails to choose from, your four-legged friend will be spoilt for choice. The Woodland Trail, which takes around two hours to complete, looks particularly beautiful in the autumn – just be aware that it’s steep in parts, so it’s best to wear proper walking shoes. When the weather is good, make an afternoon of it and climb the 78 steps of Leith Hill Tower for a panoramic view before rewarding yourself (and your dog) with a refreshment at the nearby Tanhouse Farm Shop.
Chess Valley, Buckinghamshire
Distance: 4-10 km
Walking Time: 2-4 Hours (depending on route)
If you’re after a more challenging trail, head to the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire for the Chess Valley Walk. Just over an hour’s drive from London, the area is home to one of the most stunning vistas in the south east, making it the ideal choice during the summer. The main route follows the River Chess from Rickmansworth to Chesham and passes through stunning scenery and several charming villages. The walk is signposted throughout, so it’s easy to follow, but excitable dogs should be kept on their lead from the start as the river is fairly deep. The Chess Valley walk is also steeped in local history, so look out for 13th century ruins along the way, as well as local wildlife including water voles and dragonflies.
Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted
Distance: 16 km
Walking Time: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Ashridge Estate in the Hertfordshire town of Berkhamsted is bursting with dog walking routes. The National Trust area is renowned for its beautiful forest and variety of local wildlife, too. There are four marked walkways, all of which are easy to follow, though one of the best is the Foresters’ Walk. There, you can spot wild deer herds grazing in open fields, take in views of the famous Bridgewater Monument (a historic column), and walk along a famous tree-lined avenue knows as Prince’s Riding. If you fancy a longer outing, follow the Ashridge Estate circular route which takes around three and a half hours to complete.
Cliveden Estate, Berkshire
Distance: 3.7 km
Walking Time: 1 Hour
Just over an hour’s drive from London, Cliveden has some of the most beautiful views of the River Thames and the Berkshire countryside. The National Trust site, which is open for most of the year, is a lovely spot for dogs to explore the woodlands and stunning landscaped gardens. The main trail, which is clearly sign posted with green markers, begins at the woodland car park and passes Cliveden House, a stunning countryside viewpoint, and a section of distinctive tall Californian trees. The walk takes an hour to complete, with the leisurely route serving as a good option for families or those with young kids in tow. Make a day of it and stop at Cliveden House for afternoon tea, or explore the historical town of Marlow, just a short drive away.
Ashdown Forest, East Sussex
Distance: 3.25 km
Walking Time: 1 Hour
Once a deer hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest is now one of the largest green areas in the south east, with over 6,000 acres of land. The charming forest inspired the Hundred Acre Wood in AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books – so it’s no surprise the area attracts thousands of visitors each year. There a several walking routes suitable for dogs, but for a charming day out, follow the Pooh Walk which begins at Gills Lap car park and follows a circular route around Wrens Warren Valley. There, beautiful countryside views can be appreciated year-round, though the pine trees in the forest look particularly majestic during the autumn. There are several dog-friendly country pubs in the area too, so make a beeline for one once you’ve completed the walk.
Weald Country Park, Essex
Walking Time: 2 Hours
Weald Country Park in Brentwood, one of the largest open spaces in Essex, is famous for its deer park and wildflower meadows – both of which date back to the 12th century. Covering more than 500 acres of woodland, the park is a beautiful backdrop for a dog walk thanks to its lush greenery and bustling wildlife population. The circular Sick Man play trail is a great option for kids – little ones can swing on the climbing frames dotted throughout, while dogs can explore the vast woodland area. Stop for a refreshment at the on-site café, or head into Brentwood for a delicious pub lunch – the Nag’s Head is an SL favourite.
Petworth Park, West Sussex
Walking Time: 2 Hours
Make the 90-minute drive from London to the South Downs of West Sussex for a dog walk at Petworth Park. With 700 acres of woodland and lush lawns to explore, the best path to take is the Petworth Circular Trail. The route, which is clearly marked, passes beautiful views of the South Downs and one of the largest deer parks in England. At the end of the circular walk, you’ll pass the historic Petworth House, (a stunning 17th-century Grade I listed country property), and a large lake. Look out for the spooky hollow trees on the route – a great climbing frame for little paws.
Seaford To Eastbourne, East Sussex
Walking Time: 4 Hours
For one of the best coastal dog walks in the UK, drive down or take the train to Seaford in East Sussex. The route begins at the Seaford coastline and passes by the stunning white cliffs at Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, before finishing up in Eastbourne. The route is fairly challenging – taking around four hours to complete, with some steep climbing – so bookmark it for a weekend away. Dogs can run along the coastline, frolic in the sea and take in the fresh air, though be sure to keep them on their lead cliff-side. Once you’ve completed the route, treat yourself to a delicious ice cream at Fusciardi's parlour on the seafront.
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
Walking Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Those looking for a scenic and historical walking route in the English countryside should make the 90-minute drive from London to the Weald of Kent. Sissinghurst Castle, famous for its stunning gardens, is somewhere you can walk your dog year-round, although the estate looks particularly beautiful during the winter months. The main trail, which is an easy, flat route taking just 90 minutes to complete, starts at the main car park and continues along the castle, passing a medieval moat and a lake. From there, dogs can frolic in the vast Bull and Birches Wood. Afterwards, head to Milk House pub in Cranbrook to enjoy a hearty lunch while your dog cosies up in front of the Tudor fireplace.
Walking Time: 2 Hours
Take the 30-minute train from London Euston to Milton Keynes or drive to the quaint town of Buckingham for a country walk. Dogs will love exploring the secret gardens around the estate, as well as the huge Octagon Lake. The National Trust area is best explored in the morning and looks majestic during the winter months. Meanwhile, the dog-friendly trail begins at The Eastern Lake Pavillion and passes several historic monuments along the way, including a gothic temple and a hidden grotto. The path is easy to follow and takes around two hours to complete. There are dog bins dotted throughout and several places to stop for a drink along the way.
Walking Time: 30 Minutes
The short walking route at Ankerwycke in Runnymede takes just 30 minutes – a great option for a brisk morning stroll. The trail begins at the kissing gate by the car park and opens out on to a beautiful meadow. The meadows are grazed by cattle for most of the year so large dogs are best kept on their leads at the start but can happily roam free in the main park area. The route also has some beautiful views of the River Thames and the famous Ankerwycke Yew – a huge 2,500-year-old tree, as well as an abundance of wildlife, most notably green woodpeckers and dragonflies.
Ready to go? Here are some of the best apps to use on your next dog walk…
Dogs Walks App
Best For: Discovering New Routes
Get instant access to over 500 dog-friendly walking routes in the UK with this app. All of the routes have been tried and tested, so you can rely on expert advice and guidance wherever you choose to take your dog. With maps, detailed instructions and parking information, it’s a great tool to discover new trails in your local area.
Map My Walk By UnderArmour
Best For: Fitness Junkies
This handy app allows users to track their walks, compare their performance and discover new walking routes in their local area. Map My Walk By UnderArmour is ideal for those who like to take their dog on heart-pumping walks or runs – it even allows you to set targets and achieve a personal best. Keep you and your dog active and bookmark your favourite walking routes with the GPS tracker.
Pub Walks App
Best For: Countryside Walks
When you’re on a lovely country walk and you want to stop for a drink or a hearty pub lunch, download the Pub Walks Apps. As well as having 200 circular countryside walks on its database, it also recommends the best dog-friendly pubs in the area so you and your four-legged friend can relax after a long walk.
View Ranger App
Best For: Walks Off The Beaten Track
Consider View Ranger your digital guide to the outdoors that lets you download hundreds of walking routes to enjoy with your dog. With detailed maps that can connect to your smart watch, the app includes a powerful GPS navigation system to guide users through trails which are off the beaten track, but still safe to explore.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book. Please ensure you are aware of the social distancing guidelines in place as well as rules on meeting up in groups larger than six.