2 people walking a dog

Winning Walks 2007

Here it is! The list of the UK’s 21 Top Dog Walks (in alphabetical order), as voted by all of you.  A big thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. 

Now you are here, why not nominate your favourite walk for 2008

Photo of the 'Balloch Castle Country Park' walk

Balloch Castle Country Park

County: Scotland

There are nature trails, guided walks, walled garden and picnic lawns with views of the Loch. The Castle was built in 1808, and contains visitor centre and toilets.

Balloch Castle Country Park lies within the 170 square miles, which constitute the Loch Lomond Regional Park. The latter was designated in order to preserve the countryside, wildlife and traditional farming methods within the area. It is registered as an area of national scenic significance.

Pictures courtesy of Visit Scotland Argyll.

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Photo of the 'Balmedie Beach' walk

Balmedie Beach

County: Scotland

Balmedie, just north of Aberdeen, has a particularly long and wide beach of clean golden sand, bordered by grassy dunes. It's part of the Balmedie Beach and Country Park which has been developed to provide additional amenities for visitors. There is ample parking, toilets, wooden walkways across the sands and streams, picnic areas with barbecues, and a swing park with a fishing theme for children.

The local people use the beach more than anyone for walks or jogging in the fresh air. Beautiful wild flowers grow on the beach in the summer.

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Brancaster Beach

County: Norfolk

With its miles of golden sand this walk is a doggy paradise.

Dogs love it here as there is plenty of opportunity for digging and paddling! But check the above link before visiting as there are restrictions on dogs in certain areas and at certain times of year. There is also a charge for parking at certain times of year.

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Cherwell Valley

County: Oxfordshire

Difficulty: Moderately Difficult

Duration: 4-5 hours

My top dog walk is in Oxfordshire in the Cherwell Valley. It starts in Upper Heyford where you can park by Allen's Lock and kicks off by walking along the footpath adjacent to one of England's most peaceful waterways - the Oxford Canal. Follow the footpath by crossing both the canal bridge and the bridge over the River Cherwell which runs parallel to the Oxford Canal and walk across the watermeadows in the Cherwell Valley until you reach Steeple Aston. From Steeple Aston walk up Paines Hill to the village shop and turn left. Pick up the footpath between Steeple Aston and Lower Heyford (where dogs are made very welcome in The Bell five minutes walk from the canal) and turn left to walk along the canal back towards Upper Heyford.

The walk travels along both the Oxford Canal and the River Cherwell and is predominately off-road which means that your dog can be off the lead for most of the way. You see some amazing wildlife including kingfishers, ducks and swans and the canal boat community, which you encounter, are always wonderfully friendly. As you walk up the hill towards Steeple Aston you will see Rousham House's 'eye catcher' - a particular highlight of the walk.

Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on how long it takes you to meander through the water meadows.

I would say that the walk is moderately difficult as there are a couple of hills that you encounter along the way.

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Photo of the 'Chesterfield Canal' walk

Chesterfield Canal

County: Derbyshire

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 2 Hours

The Chesterfield Canal was surveyed by James Brindley and finished in 1777. It linked Chesterfield to the River Trent. The walk is part of the Trans Pennine Trail and the route is easy. This is a 6 mile walk. If a shorter walk is required, starting from Tapton Lock would reduce the time and mileage.

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Photo of the 'Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale' walk

Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale

County: Lancashire

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Hollingworth Lake is high in the Pennine hills above Littleborough with spectacular views over the hills around Rochdale. Built to supply water to the nearby Rochdale Canal, the Lake has been used for recreation since Victorian times, when it was known as The Weavers Seaport. Park in the Country park and follow the paths around the Lake, ending up back at the cafe, or stop off at the pubs and restaurants along the way.

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Photo of the 'Ideford Common' walk

Ideford Common

County: Devon

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 15 - 60 mins

Ideford Common is an area of beautiful heath land and forest. Lots of footpaths linking up around the common which can take anything from 15 minutes to just under an hour depending on route and speed! All quite rough paths- can be muddy!

Photo of the 'Ladderedge Country Park, Leek' walk

Ladderedge Country Park, Leek

County: Staffordshire

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Duration: 20 mins to an hour.

Ladderedge Country Park covers 28 ha (70 acres) of unimproved grassland and woodland, with a stream and ponds. From the hilltop there are fine views across Leek and the surrounding countryside. It is a popular place for dog walkers as it is close to residential areas, and is a beautiful and varied place to walk. There is also a dog bin at the main entrance to the Park.

It is situated at the edge of Leek, but only 15 minutes walk from the town centre. The entrance to the park is off Ladderedge (A53).

There are three circular walks that vary in distant and difficulty.

  • Meadow walk - approx 20 mins easy.
  • Habitat walk - approx 45 mins moderate.
  • Woodland walk - approx 1 hour moderate.

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Photo of the 'Langdon Hill Wood, National Trust Golden Cap Estate' walk

Langdon Hill Wood, National Trust Golden Cap Estate

County: Dorset

Difficulty: Moderate (some steep climbs).

Duration: 2 miles, 1 to 2 hours

Langdon Hill Wood is on National Trust land situated off the A35 between Bridport and Charmouth. Park at the pay and display car park, where there is also an information board, picnic table and bin.

Take the lower gate to the left and follow the surfaced track, through the woods.

Only the surfaced track is suitable for wheelchairs but will need a strong push. There is a circular walk on the track around the woods, which lasts about 30 minutes.

Look out for various species of trees, butterflies, birds (Buzzards and Sparrowhawks), and maybe even deer. Well behaved dogs can be off the lead as long as they stay on the track and do not veer off into the trees.

Turn left at the signpost saying Coast Path and Golden Cap and go down the gentle slope, then turn left down a steep slope. Go through the gate and turn right, you will then be able to see Golden Cap and the sea. Cross the field where again dogs can run, unless there is livestock at which point dogs must be kept on a short lead.

Go over the stile and through the kissing gate and then climb the steps, dogs at this point will need to be on their leads, as once at the top of Golden Cap you are close to the cliff edge which is not necessarily fenced. Even the dog will appreciate the views from here. More wildlife in this area includes species of moth and the common lizard.

Walk westward along the path passing the memorial to the Earl of Antrim, and head down the hill following the coast path signs. Again dogs are fine off lead here, as long as there is no livestock, and with more great views of the sea and coast to the left.

Follow the path; past the chapel heading inland following the signposts through two fields, again dogs can be off lead depending on livestock. Go through the gate, and you will return to the field below Golden Cap, retrace your steps up the slope until you are back on the surfaced track.

Turn left on the track and follow it round the other side of Langdon Hill Wood, which is a nice level stroll. Eventually you come back out into the car park and the walk is finished.

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Photo of the 'Loweswater, Lake District' walk

Loweswater, Lake District

County: Cumbria

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 4-5 hours

Brilliant views down onto this quiet and peaceful lake. The view extends from the Solway Coast and Scottish hills to the north right around to the Vale of Lorton and heights of Grasmoor and Robinson, Crummock Water with Buttermere and the high fells beyond. A medium walk, but with plenty of interesting scenery. This is a peaceful walk in the northern Lakes, away from the tourists and is definitely off-the-beaten track. The Kirkstile Inn is a pleasant watering-hole where dogs are welcome except from 6pm to 10pm.

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Photo of the 'Malvern Hills' walk

Malvern Hills

County: Worcestershire

There are two circular walks on the Northern Hills which can be combined into a 6 mile circuit. Both walks can be accessed from Great Malvern as well as car parks on the Hills. Two easier access trails have been constructed to enable not only wheelchair users, but everyone who finds the steeper slopes difficult, to enjoy the beauty of the Malvern Hills.

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Photo of the 'Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Rogerstone' walk

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Rogerstone

County: Wales

The walk is along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal starting at the Fourteen Locks at Rogerstone. If you have a car there is a car park at the Fourteen Locks pond, and a visitors centre that is open on and off through out the year. After parking your car you can cross the road by the local shop and start walking for as long as you want. Fudge and i have only ever walked as far as Risca, but know the walk goes on for many more miles, hence the name Monmouth and Brecon Canal. The walk is mainly flat and is suitable for all ages and abilities. There are a few roads to cross, but these are relatively quiet. Fudge and i meet many people on our walk not just other dog walkers but families cycling, taking advantage of the flat long stretch of canal.

The canal surface is level and easy to walk on. The scenery is very beautiful and you may see kingfishers, frogs, ducks and tadpoles in and around the canal walk.

Once you reach the Ty-Syn area of Risca there is a bench where you can enjoy the view along the canal. There is adequate shade along most of the canal because of the mature trees along the way.

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Photo of the 'Neigh Bridge to Somerford Keynes' walk

Neigh Bridge to Somerford Keynes

County: Gloucestershire

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

A peaceful four mile walk around the Cotswold Water Park area which takes in the infant Thames and lovely Cotswold countryside in Gloucestershire.

The walk would appeal to everyone and even has a beach for dogs to swim!

Features include part of the Thames Path National Trail - a Cotswold stone village - a country park with beaches, playgrounds, willow sculptures, wildlife, day ticket fishing, toilets as well as a shop and seasonal boat hire and cafe.

The walk falls into the easy/moderate category and there are many areas where dogs can be let off leads - the walk is off road all the way. The terrain is easy with a few stiles and bridges.

The walk includes a local nature reserve with bird hide which is always open. The start is at Neigh Bridge Car Park where parking is free about four miles south of Cirencester just 25 minutes away from M4 junction 15.

Photograph courtesy of Jill Bewley,Education and Events Officer of Cotswold Water Park Society.

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Northwich Community Woodlands

County: Cheshire

Duration: Up to two hours.

There are circular routes to make a walk that can last over 2 hours. It is possible to walk along the river and view the Anderton Boat Lift (fairly steep hill up to Pay and Display car park at Anderton). On the whole this is a nicely enclosed area and any animals are in very secure fields so no worry about them being chased. Need to watch out for the occasional cyclist and horse rider. Access to canal towpath at one point to prolong walk further. Possibility of a paddle at "Lesley's Leap".

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Photo of the 'Richmond Park' walk

Richmond Park

County: London

Duration: 1.5 Hours

My name is Fudge and I am a 9 year old chocolate labrador bitch who just loves Richmond Park for my favourite walk. I take my human there on weekends mostly and we park the labrador taxi at Petersham Lodge car park (in the park). There is a great snack van selling the most delicious bacon rolls at the half way point as well as great hot chocolate sold at the kiosk in the car park.

We head down the centre of the park towards White Lodge (home of the Royal Ballet School) taking in the panoramic view of the London City skyline, passing through the woods where I can look for squirrels and also a variety of ponds, creeks and puddles that I can take a dip in or have a drink from. The walk, in its entirety, is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes at a gentle pace. It is mostly over grass paths but can be adapted to the defined path for people in wheelchairs or those with pushchairs but I would say that it would be a bit of a challenge.

Once we get to White Lodge, we continue up the right side of the building and head into the woods. There could be deer at any point so this needs to be kept in mind. We bear down through the woods and double back along the path to the snack van!

Once refreshed, we continue back down the left side of Pen Ponds and follow the bridal path along the edge of the lake. There is a slight incline then to the left between the trees and we go up this way heading back in the direction of the car park. This can be a bit slippery when very wet under paws.

Humans need to be aware that three herds of deer roam freely within the park and it is very popular with horse riders and cyclists. There is a road that runs the entire circumference of the park and this can be very busy at peak times even though there is a 20mph speed limit.

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Photo of the 'River Tweed, St Boswells' walk

River Tweed, St Boswells

County: Scotland

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

This walk starts in beautiful St. Boswells at the bus stance. The village is well serviced with a village shop and small supermarket for any last minute refreshments.

The walk starts by walking down Jenny Moore's Road, carry on through the new housing development and once through take the first road to your left. Follow this around the back of the houses and you will see a sign for the River Tweed - to your right. Follow this path - a chance for dogs to have a sniff off the lead. The end of this path crosses a quiet road. Cross over the stile and follow the track that will take you pass a sign for the St. Boswells Apple - one of Scotland's largest and oldest crab apple trees.

Continue on until the path crosses another, take the path to the left here and you will walk alongside the River Tweed. Follow the woodland track into a field where your dog can really have a good run around and even a swim in the river.

You can see many different forms of wildlife including herons, swans and ducks and even the odd fisherman trying his hand on the river.

Carry on through the field and you will come to some steps, put your dog on a lead here as you will be crossing a road. Go down the steps at the other side and continue following the path along. After 15 minutes or so you will come to St. Boswells golf course, which the path follows along the edge. Take the path that leads up past the club house and then right at the top of the hill. Follow this back to the village. Stop in the Buccleuch Arms Hotel for a drink or meal afterwards as they allow well behaved dogs.

Photo of the 'Riverside Trail, Bishop's Stortford' walk

Riverside Trail, Bishop's Stortford

County: Hertfordshire

Difficulty: Moderate (flat, with some unsurfaced paths)

Duration: 1 Hour

Starting at Grange Paddocks Car Park, walk along the riverbank with the River Stort on your right. Pass the small weir and pedestrian bridge, carry on until reaching Sworders Field, on your left is the Skate Park and Play Area. Walk through Sworders Field towards the Children's Play Area, you will pass two footbridges on your right, both lead to Waytemore Castle Motte and Bailey, the Paddling Pool, the War Memorial and Gardens. Walk up the small incline to the main road, The Causeway, turn right and walk towards the Pedestrian Crossing. Cross the road and turn left and cross the road again over Adderley Road. With The Causeway on your left, walk until you reach the head of the Stort Navigation, just before the Register Office on your right. Turning right follow the Public Footpath signs along the Lee Navigation, walking under the Riverside Bridge continue along the river past the Southmill Trading Estate, an old Victorian Maltings, and footbridge on your right, until you reach the London Road. At this point you can cross the road with caution and continue along the Stort Navigation towards Spellbrook, Sawbridgeworth and Harlow or retrace your route back to the Riverside Bridge. After retracing your tracks to Station Road, at the bridge make your way up to the road, turning left along Station Road, cross over at the second crossing and walk up South Street. You are now walking along Bishop's Stortford's main shopping street. When you pass the Market Square on your left you will come to traffic lights, opposite the George Hotel, one of the oldest inns in Hertfordshire. Turn right down Bridge Street. Walking down the road past the Council Offices and Library, Caution, at the pedestrian crossing cross The Causeway back towards the War Memorial and Waytemore Castle and turn right. Enter the Gardens at the first entrance, and walk towards Waytemore Castle, Motte and Bailey, at the bottom of the steps either take a left or right to circle the castle. To return to the trail cross the footbridge at the back of the castle and rejoin the trail. With the River Stort to your left and the Skate Park and Sworders Field to your right, retrace your steps back to Grange Paddocks car park.

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Photo of the 'Tatton Park, Knutsford' walk

Tatton Park, Knutsford

County: Cheshire

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Duration: 1 hour or more!

Over 1000 acres of deer park set within National Trust property. Tea room near to the Mansion. Two meres on the Estate, so ample opportunities for a little swim. Need to be aware that there are sheep and deer roaming free so not suitable if you have a budding contestant for One Man and His Dog. Please note that to take a car into the park is £4.20, including National Trust members.

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The Downs

County: Avon

Referred to as Bristol's 'Green Lung' The Downs consist of around 400 acres of grassland perched right on the edge of the city. A fantastic area for dogs to stretch their legs and invigorate their senses with some excellent scent trails to follow!

Situated on the North West of Bristol, about 2 miles from the City Centre. The Downs can be found at the top of Whiteladies Road (A4018) or if travelling from the North of the City, Westbury Road leads to The Downs.

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Photo of the 'The Humber Foreshore and Waters' Edge' walk

The Humber Foreshore and Waters' Edge

County: Lincolnshire

Duration: 40 minutes

The walk starts from the Humber Bridge Viewing Area car park (Grid reference TA 0274 2339) there is ample free parking, a children's play area and toilets. The real beauty of this walk is that it can be as long or short as you want.

From the viewing area take the ramp (good disabled access) onto the Humber Bank. This wide, well surfaced footpath is the starting point for long distance walks to the east or west and has fantastic views of the Humber Bridge, which was until recently the longest single span suspension bridge in the world.

Follow the path to the west, passing under the Bridge and along the foreshore. You'll meet many other dog walkers as you follow the foreshore past the old tile works and the acclaimed Far Ings National Nature Reserve.

The path along the foreshore is elevated and level, making for an enjoyable and easy walk, with many wildflowers, butterflies and birds to be seen during the summer months. After just over 2km you will reach the Chowder Ness area, where a section of the foreshore has been flooded to create a nature reserve.

If you are feeling energetic, you can continue along this well marked route to South Ferriby and beyond. We turn back at Chowder Ness, returning along the path to the Humber Bridge viewing area. From here, cross the Haven by a footbridge (disabled access) and follow the foreshore into the award winning Waters' Edge Country Park, made up of two sites of special scientific interest. Dogs must be kept on a lead in the Country Park, but there are several kilometres of footpaths around the reserves, passing through reed beds, meadows and woodland.

Waters' Edge Visitor Centre, the greenest building in England, is a stunning curved glass building. Open 7 days a week with free admission, it has displays on the wildlife of the area and caring for the environment. Dogs are not allowed in the building, but the friendly staff are only too pleased to provide fresh drinking water and have a free supply of poop bags. There is a shaded area at the entrance to the centre where dogs can be tied up whilst you visit the toilets and shop.

The cafe at the centre, serving local and organic food, welcomes dogs onto the terrace overlooking the ponds and again offers pets fresh drinking water.

There are plenty of doggy bins along the route and the paths are easy to follow and well maintained.

For a variation to this walk, you can also add a walk across the Humber Bridge, which is free to pedestrians and has panoramic views of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

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Photo of the 'Wonderful Washlands, Burton Upon Trent' walk

Wonderful Washlands, Burton Upon Trent

County: Staffordshire

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1 hour or as long as you like!

Start walk at the Stapenhill Hollows car park, off Stapenhill Road. Follow the footpath along the River Trent signposted 'Stapenhill Gardens'. You will then arrive at the beautiful floral gardens which you can walk around using the ramps or steps. From the gardens, follow the path down towards the bridge where you will find the Boathouse Inn and a refreshment kiosk. Walk along the ferry bridge as far as you like, taking in the views and wildlife of the washlands. The washlands are part of the National Forest and are a haven for wildlife, particularly birds. Follow your route back to the car park through the gardens and along the river. Alternatively, for a longer walk, continue onto the washlands but bear in mind you will have to cross back over the ferry bridge at some point in order to cross the river. If you do choose to continue your walk onto the washlands, I advise keeping your dog on a lead due to the abundance of wildlife.

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