Whether it’s a fun run-around, long walk or a complete dog-friendly holiday, London dog owners, both north and south, have plenty of locations to choose from.
Peckham Rye Park and Common
The Peckham Rye Park and Common has been around in some shape from before the Norman conquest in the 11th century. Nowadays, it comprises the historic common and the refurbished Victorian park. Dogs can run free in the common but will need to be on a lead around the cultivated gardens and play areas of the park. The arboretum is a dog-free zone.
Start with a gentle stroll around Peckham Rye Park before letting the dog off the leash for some more energetic gambolling around the common. Start by the Japanese Garden, head south towards the woodland area, either sticking to the path or walking over the grassland. Loop around the bottom of the park before heading back north towards the lake and pass the Nature Garden to access the common. See more trails and maps of the park at the Southwark website.
Strakers Road, SE 15 • Off and on lead areas • Toilets • Free parking available
Europe’s largest city park, Richmond Park attracts millions of local and tourist visitors every year. The largest of the Royal Parks, it stretches over 2,500 acres and boasts woodland, meadows, ponds and views of Canary Wharf, the Shard and the Gherkin. Dog walkers are urged to respect the park’s famous deer population, control dogs and put them on leads around the deer.
Male deer pose a physical risk to dogs during the rutting season, so avoid dog walking in Richmond Park from September to October. For a six to seven mile walk, make a loop of the park starting and finishing at the Pembroke Lodge. The loop passes Hamcross Plantation, Isabella plantation (dog on lead if you make a detour here), the two ponds, Robin Hood Gate and Roehampton Gate. Follow the edge of the park back, over the footbridge, past Sheen Gate and towards Richmond Gate before heading back to Pembroke. See more details and map here.
Richmond, TW10 • On and off lead areas • Toilets • Free parking available
Made up of fields, fishing lakes, woods and a nature reserve, the 413 acre Trent Park is a favourite destination with dog walkers. The park also boasts a golf course, equestrian centre, pets’ corner, cycle trail and bridle trail. Their Cafe Animal centre welcomes dogs and their owners for refreshments all year around.
The park has tarmac and gravel paths you can stick to on dog walks, or for adventurous dogs there’s plenty of unpaved woodland to explore.
Cockfosters Road, EN 4 • Off lead • Toilets • Free parking available
This Lambeth park is great for families with a dog. The tennis courts and astro turf are free to use without booking and there’s plenty for kids to do with a water-play park and the Mulberry Centre. While the children’s playground is a dog-free zone, there is a dedicated dog exercise area here.
Cormont Road, SE5 • On and off lead areas • Toilets • Limited parking (paid)
In the south west corner of Hackney, Haggerston is a relatively new park, with the southern half opened to the public in the 1980s. Proud owner of a Green Flag award, Haggerston is popular with dog walkers, with shaded paths and some open areas of grassland. Hackney council promote responsible dog ownership and have partnered with the Dogs Trust to hold free microchipping, training and vaccination events. Failing to clean up after your dog in Haggerston is a fineable offence.
Dogs are excluded from the play areas and sport facilities of Haggerston, so keep your walk in the northern half of the park, above Eden Street.
Hackney Road, E2 • On and off lead areas • Toilets (open Spring 2014) • Limited parking (paid)
Forest Holidays offers 60 luxury cabins in 270 acres of beautiful Forestry Commission woodland at Blackwood Forest. The site can be reached by car or by a direct train from Waterloo to Micheldever station, making it ideal for a long weekend out of the city with the dog. The cabins in Blackwood Forest are pet-friendly, with heated floors and tasty dog-treats, including the infamous Cherry Barkwells. Forest Holidays let the dogs do the speaking for them, find out more about what’s on offer for dog owners on their human-friendly holidays page’.
There are miles of marked paths and acres of woodland in Blackwood Forest to romp in. Either head out with your dog on foot or hire a bike to really get them stretching their legs. Find the best routes to walk around Blackwood Forest courtesy of Walk4Life.
Luxury Paw Camp
Give you and your dog a joint detox with a doggy bootcamp from NuBeginings. This company tailors their bootcamp breaks to each owner and their dog’s specific needs, with a mix of fitness activities, nutrition advice, stretching and massage. The retreat is based in the village of Illfracombe in Devon, close to the valleys and hills of Dartmoor and just a short stop away from spectacular beaches. The bootcamps are inclusive of luxury accommodation, organic meals and therapy treatments and programs. Find out more about the NuBeginings Paw Camp here.
Image credit: Forest Holidays