What Are the Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in the UK?

As dog lovers, we understand that our four-legged companions are more than just pets – they are family members. And when it comes to spending quality time with family, there’s nothing quite like embarking on a scenic walk together. Luckily, the United Kingdom, renowned for its lush landscapes and picturesque pathways, is abundant with dog-friendly trails that both you and your furry friend will enjoy. In this article, we’ll delve into the best trails across the nation, from the misty peaks of Scotland to the sunlit coasts of southern England.

South West Coast Path, England

A walk along the South West Coast Path is a must for those residing or visiting the south of England. Spanning a staggering 630 miles, this trail offers a wealth of dog-friendly walking opportunities. While you might not have the time to traverse its entire length, there are plenty of shorter, circular routes within the trail that you can select based on your dog’s stamina and your own.

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The South West Coast Path passes through diverse landscapes, from cliff top vistas to sheltered estuaries. The trail is a haven for wildlife, and you and your dogs will be able to spot an array of intriguing species. Additionally, the path is well maintained throughout the year, ensuring a pleasant walking experience. Just remember to keep your dog leashed near cliffs and livestock.

Forest of Dean, England

Next on our list, in the heart of England, is the enchanting Forest of Dean. This ancient woodland, one of the surviving royal forests in England, beckons with its winding trails and tranquil glades. The forest spans over 110 square kilometers, providing ample space for you and your dog to explore.

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The Forest of Dean offers a multitude of paths, from straightforward walking routes to more challenging hill climbs. The Sculpture Trail, a 4.5-mile circular walk, is particularly popular among dog walkers. It combines art with nature as it meanders through towering oaks and intriguing open-air sculptures.

Hadrian’s Wall Path, England

For history buffs and their canine companions, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is an ideal choice. This 84-mile trail follows the route of the former Roman wall from the east coast to the west coast of Northern England. The extensive ruins and the surrounding countryside provide a stunning backdrop for a leisurely walk.

Although the entire route is a significant undertaking, there are multiple shorter walks you can undertake. The section between Walltown Quarry and Birdoswald, approximately six miles, is a popular choice due to its incredible views and ample dog-friendly amenities.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales offers a breathtaking coastal walk that will delight both you and your dog. This national trail covers a distance of 186 miles, with a range of terrains, from sandy beaches to rugged cliff-tops.

Remember to keep your dog on the leash, especially near cliff edges. There is a variety of shorter, circular walks along the route if you are not up for the entire trail. The path passes through various towns and villages, providing plenty of opportunities to stop for refreshments.

West Highland Way, Scotland

Finally, for those of you in Scotland, your best bet is the West Highland Way. As Scotland’s first official long-distance route, this 96-mile trail offers an incredible variety of landscapes, from lowland moors to steep mountain terrain, to dense forests and serene lochs.

While not every part of the trail is suitable for dogs due to the rugged terrain and livestock presence, there are numerous dog-friendly sections. Conic Hill to Balmaha, a 7.5-mile stretch, is a favourite among dog owners for its spectacular views over Loch Lomond. Remember to keep your dogs leashed where signs indicate, especially during lambing season.

In conclusion, whether you’re a local or a visitor, the UK has a wealth of dog-friendly trails to explore. Whatever your preference – coastal, forest, or historical paths – there’s a perfect trail for you and your faithful friend. Remember to respect the countryside code, keep your dog under control, and most importantly, enjoy the walk.

Peak District National Park, England

A prime destination for dog lovers, the Peak District National Park is famed for its rolling hills, limestone dales, and vast moorlands. Located at the heart of England, this national park is a perfect blend of wild and tamed landscapes. It’s one of the best dog-friendly trails that both you and your canine friend will love.

Covering a distance of miles, the Peak District offers a multitude of walking trails that vary in difficulty from moderate to challenging. A standout choice is the route around the Mam Tor, known as the ‘Mother Hill’. This circular trail spans approximately six miles, offering heart-stopping views of the Hope Valley and the Edale Valley.

Besides the breathtaking vistas, there are several dog-friendly attractions within the park, such as the Chatsworth House, a historic manor surrounded by lush gardens and parkland. For a peaceful walk, the Tissington Trail, a 13-mile path along a disused railway line, is a fantastic, well-maintained option.

If you plan on staying nearby, there are numerous dog-friendly accommodations in surrounding towns such as Bakewell and Buxton. Just remember, whenever you’re out and about in the Peak District National Park, to keep your dog leashed and respect the local wildlife.

Lake District National Park, England

Perfect for water-loving dogs, the Lake District National Park is a paradise of sparkling lakes, ancient woodlands, and mountain peaks. This national park, located in North West England, is one of the country’s most scenic and popular areas for dog walking.

The Lake District offers a myriad of trails that cater to all levels of fitness and endurance. One of the most famed routes is the ten-mile circular walk around Lake Buttermere. Your dog will love the chance to splash in the water, and you’ll enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding fells.

Among the numerous dog-friendly walks, the trail that ascends the Old Man of Coniston, a high fell with panoramic views of the district, stands out. A trek to the summit is challenging but rewarding, and the entire route is well-signposted.

When it comes to accommodation, the Lake District is equally accommodating with a wealth of dog-friendly options. From luxury hotels to cosy cottages and campsites, you and your four-legged friend will be well catered for.

Just a quick reminder: while the Lake District National Park is a fantastic place for dogs, not all areas are suitable for off-leash play due to the presence of wildlife and livestock. Always keep an eye on your dog and use a lead where necessary.

Conclusion

The UK is undoubtedly a treasure trove of dog-friendly trails that cater to all tastes and abilities. Whether you prefer the rugged beauty of the Peak District National Park, the serene waters of the Lake District, or the historical significance of Hadrian’s Wall Path, there’s no shortage of places to explore with your canine companion.

The most important thing is to respect the environment you’re in and the wildlife that calls it home. Always keep your dog leashed where needed, and remember to leave no trace. After all, the best dog walks are those that can be enjoyed by everyone, including future generations. So lace up your hiking boots, grab the leash, and set off on a walking adventure that both you and your dog will love.