London is amongst the world’s greatest cities, with a skyline bursting with history and commerce. Tourists flock from every corner of the map, visiting everything from the gothic architecture of Westminster to the cavernous museums and galleries, housing the finest collections of paintings and artefacts. The city always has something going on! And the great news is that the best dog walks in London are accessible by the London Underground AKA the Tube!
Rarely do we think of London as a green city, but the capital’s dog walkers are treated to the best and grandest parks in the country. Whether you want to hide amongst vast mazes, admire hilltop panorama’s, or engage with London’s natural wonders (including pelicans galore), London’s pooch moochers are truly spoilt for choice.
Here are our top seven picks for the best dog walks in London.
7 of the Best Dog Walks in London
Hampstead Heath is the classic rural escape — 790 acres covers the vast rambling area of the ancient London heath. Once a landscape of shrubs and dense undergrowth, today you can enjoy wide-open views across the lush hills. Pools and ponds are scattered throughout the park, shimmering like slithers of silver on a warm sunny day. Perfect for a quick doggy dip or a relaxing picnic and stroll.
Eight former reservoirs were used to create The Highgate Ponds; offering a range of facilities, including two swimming pools, a model boating pond, and two ponds which are part of the wildlife reserve — Stock Pond and Bird Sanctuary Pond. Here your dog can play amongst the thick reeds and grasses, chasing dragonflies or barking after the flocks of birds.
Hampstead Heath — Photography by Vari D on Flickr (Creative Commons)
If you’re a dog walker on the hunt for a view, there is no better panorama of the city than from Parliament Hill. Originally believed to have been a Bronze Age burial barrow, the hill provides breath-taking views of the glistening glass skyline stretching far into the distance.
Don’t miss out on Kenwood House, the former stately home of the Earls of Mansfield. The house’s Grade II listed gardens are sculpted and methodically designed, contrasting sharply with the surrounding ancient woodlands and the more natural Hampstead Heath. Look out for the sculptures by famous abstract sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. They’re real head-scratchers!
Near the heath are some fantastic restaurants and pubs, for a relaxing bite to eat after a day out. You’ll need it after rambling around this fantastic London dog walk. Many are pet-friendly too!
Open all year round. Accessible by tube. Car parks are available.
Central Park is to New York, what Hyde Park is to London. Situated between the city’s swankiest neighbourhoods of Kensington and Belgravia, the enormous park has a history to match. It hosted The Great Exhibition of 1851 — including The Crystal Palace — and has become an important centre for free speech and demonstrations (check out Speakers’ Corner). It also regularly hosts phenomenal music concerts, featuring groups such as The Rolling Stones and Queen.
But don’t be put off, most days the park offers a relaxing stroll only a stone’s throw away from the city’s greatest attractions. Enter through one the amazing gates or arches, including the dazzlingly white Wellington Arch and discover one of the best dog walks in London.
The acres of land provide a fantastic arena for a game of fetch or a bit of playful wrestling in the long grass. The park includes a rose garden, fountains and a summer house, as well as being the home to the botanical curiosity of the weeping beech — otherwise known as ‘the upside-down tree’.
Since you’re in the neighbourhood, pop next door to see Kensington Palace and gardens, including the monumental Albert’s Memorial — constructed by Queen Victoria upon the death of her husband.
Open all year round. Accessible by tube. Car parks are available, but limited spaces.
St. James’s Park
St. James’s Park is an urban oasis. The park is surrounded by the city’s most famous landmarks, including Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. So, keep your eyes peeled for any famous faces walking their dogs around the gorgeous Grade I listed gardens. There is also a lake containing two islands, Duck Island and West Island. On Duck Island look out for the cosy little cottage, currently the headquarters of the London Parks and Gardens Trust.
Take a break at St. James’s Café, enjoying the beautiful view of the lake and fountain. If your dog likes chasing ducks, they might finally have met their match, as the park also hosts a flock of pelicans, released by Charles II in 1664. Watch them huddle together at feeding time (2.30 pm and 3.00 pm near Duck Island cottage), or head over to the Blue Bridge for a tree-framed view of the majestic Buckingham Palace.
Open all year round. Accessible by tube. Car park not available.
Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park is by far the zaniest entry on our list. The park was named after the huge glass pavilion which was moved here from Hyde Park after the Great Exhibition ended. Here it formed the centrepiece of this Victorian pleasure ground, before being destroyed in 1936. Today, the park boasts an urban farm, a museum and even the National Sports Centre. There’s even a labyrinthine hedge maze, to put your pooch’s problem-solving skills to the test, or head over to the skate park to drop off any grumpy teenagers.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter a blast from the past. For beware, monsters lurk amongst the trees and bask by the lakeside. Let your dog roam amongst the amazing dinosaur statues erected in 1854. Perfect for a walk on the wild side!
If you’re worried your dog might try to run off with the dinosaurs, try out the rabbitgoo no pull dog harness. The No-Pull design prevents stress on the dog’s neck, distributing pressure evenly. The harness is adjustable, comfortable and comes in a range of sizes. There are also two lead attachment points, depending on whether you’re up for a walk or a run. This escape proof harness is also a good option…
Accessible by tube. Car parks are available.
The Commons is a mind-boggling 1,140 acres — a vibrant patchwork of woodland and vast open fields. The area includes Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath, and Putney Lower Common, and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Here, you’ll find all manner of birds and bugs. In the summer spot the butterflies, in recent years White Admirals and Purple Emperors have been spotted presiding over the park. However, if your dog prefers the fast lane, then there are enough squirrels to spend the whole afternoon chasing. You might even find a Womble!
If you go to the Commons, take a look at the windmill. Built-in 1817 to serve the local community, the windmill unusually displays styles characteristic of Holland. It’s free to take a look inside, or simply wander by and admire the gentle white sails spinning in the breeze.
Many dog owners frequent the Commons, and so signage is dotted around informing dog walkers when to use their leads, for example, during the bird-nesting season. Also take care when walking on the Golf Course, and keep watch for any local’s horse riding.
Head down to the Commons to escape the rat race and enjoy an amble along one of life’s slow lanes.
Open all-year-round. Car parks are available.
Of the eight Royal Parks in London, Richmond Park is the largest, making it a strong contender for one of the best dog walks in London. The bustling acres of dense forests and blossoming flowers have provided the backdrop to countless paintings, films and TV series. Notably Billy Elliot, which was filmed at the ornate Georgian White Lodge, the current Royal Ballet Lower School.
Winding through narrow paths and bridges which crisscross the luscious woodland garden, your dog will love the sauntering smells of azaleas and camellias which burst into bloom in the late spring. The giant flowering rhododendron bushes are also quite a sight, erupting into a sea of pinks and purples — while the bluebell glade is calm and peaceful. There are even deer, woodpeckers’ rabbits, frogs, toads, and stag beetles hiding amongst the undergrowth. It’s no wonder Richmond Park was made a National Nature Reserve.
For nature lovers, Richmond Park is one of the liveliest dog walks in London.
Open all-year-round. Car Parks are available.
If Epping Forest had a motto, it’d be: bigger is better. The colossal 5,900 acres of ancient woodland, and former royal forest, is the biggest green space in London. The area has been inhabited since the Iron Age, before being used by medieval monarchs as their vast hunting ground. However, when Queen Victoria visited in 1882, she dedicated ‘this beautiful forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time.’ It’s been ‘The People’s Forest’ ever since.
Over 100 lakes and ponds dot the landscape carpeted in pollard trees. There are four main visitors centres to start from, each with a set of suggested walking routes. However, if you and your pooch are the exploring types, then you’ll be able to spend hours roaming under the canopy or out in the open fields.
Epping Forest is an excellent place for a game of fetch or a bit of tug-o-war amongst the leaves. Take along the Grubber Rugby Ball for a versatile toy for all your doggy needs. The rugby ball shape creates an erratic bounce that’ll test your dog’s reflexes. In bright green, the ball is durable, safe and most definitely visible.
Open 24 hours per day. All-year-round. Car Parks are available.
Originally published at https://patterdaleterriers.co.uk on May 14, 2020.