\\\ National Trails
\\\ updated 22 October 2021
Can I Take My Dog On A National Trail Walk?
Yes. There’s plenty of walks available for you, your friends, family and your dog to enjoy, even mountain bikers and horse-riders can enjoy the Pennine Bridleway and South Downs Way in England.
The National Trails Across Britain
There are currently 16 National Trails around the UK and 7 are located in England and Wales, an estimated 2,500 miles.
The National Trail website offers comprehensive information about the 16 Trails available in each region whilst local partners called Trail Partnerships made up of local authorities, manage and finance them, keep them in good order with a team of many dedicated volunteers. The walks are easily and distinctively marked, are ‘open for business 24/7’.
Most dogs cannot walk the hiking distances humans walk, because they’re not trained to do so. Picking the trails carefully can be adapted for taking your dog on the walk with you. An average of 3-4 miles is about where you find your dog looking uncomfortable, but some dogs used to open ground walking do like to cover more ground, and trained hunting dogs notoriously cover 10-20 miles with ease.
Other dogs aren’t simply used to longs walks, being walked ’round the block’ or ‘park walk’ and it would be unwise to make them accompany you for an unusually long distance.
For first time adventurers you can pick up a trail and walk just a couple of miles and turn back, making it an enjoyable morning or afternoon out with your pooch.
The National Trail have outlined a number of ‘circular walks’ within their dedicated trails, suited for shorter walks and those who are not used to longer hikes.
These circular walks start at around 4 miles in total, some being 10-12 miles which will suit dogs with different walking abilities. These are found on all their respective walk website pages.
Download The Best Trails in England and Wales leaflet (pdf) to find out more about the National Trails.
For Scotland – Scotland’s Trails. Try the Alltrails website for Northern Ireland.
Part of the breathtaking views when walking The Ridgeway Walk
Image Pet Check
\\\ Countryside Dog Walks
An alternative to Busy Beach Days
Many beaches, 2021 are being closed by 11am because they are so busy with many millions more this year taking staycations across the UK, so this can be a real alternative for you and your dog, particularly on notoriously busy sunny summer and bank holiday weekends.
The picture below features famous Durdle Door, a lovely all year round dog-friendly beach in Dorset, England, experiencing a sunny weekend, May 2021. (Photograph Courtesy Graham Hunt Photography, Dorset Echo).
Your dog really wouldn’t enjoy a packed beach, many becoming anxious in these new and unusual surroundings, where they possibly may have to be kept on a lead in blazing hot sunshine with thousands of visitors surrounding them. You can read more about the Durdle Door Dog Walking Review.
Durdle Door Dorset
Packed with visitors walking down to the ‘dog-friendly’ beach
Dorset is home to The South West Coast Path National Trail and on busy days can be a real alternative for you and your best friend to take a short walk on the National Trail, of 630 miles long stretching from Minehead to Poole around Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.
The National Trail – The Ridgeway
Pictures are from the Pet Check gallery taken walking The Ridgeway Walk, photographed June 2021.
Completing the beautiful and historic 82 mile walk over a series of days, you’ll not just see breathtaking views but meet cows, horses, and sheep in abundance, where farm animals are fenced in, so it’s important to take both long and short leads with you and if your dog requires it, a muzzle too and be wary to keep your dog under control at all times. When approaching other animals on the walk, for example, your dog is likely to become inquisitive of cattle, so follow the new Countryside Code, it’s best to be cautious and pop on their lead and walk past to a more secluded spot where they can then roam freely off lead.
About The Ridgeway
This National Trail picks up and follows some of the ancient Ridgeway from Overton Hill, near Avebury, to Streatley, then follows footpaths and parts of the ancient Icknield Way through the gorgeous Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. This National Trail is 87 miles (140 km) long.
The Ridgeway is described as ‘Britain’s oldest road’. (Wikipedia). For a longer read try The Ridgeway National Trail – Avebury to Invinghoe Beacon Described in Both Directions written by author Steve Davison (author) who has published a series of countryside trail books.
The Ridgeway National Trail has 17 shorter ‘circular’ walks which are highly recommended for dog walkers.
The Ridgeway National Trail has 17 shorter ‘circular’ walks which are highly recommended for dog walkers
Image Pet Check
\\\ Countryside Dog Code
The New Countryside Code
The new Countryside Code, 2021, is a revision of the older version after 70 years which applies to all public areas, including National Trails.
There are 3 really important points to remember when walking in public areas.
- always keep your dog on a lead or in sight
- be confident your dog will return on command
- make sure your dog does not stray from the path or area where you have right of access
The Guide details –
- Keeping your dog under effective control to make sure it stays away from wildlife, livestock, horses and other people unless invited.
- You should always check local signs as there are situations when you must keep your dog on a lead for all or part of the year. Local areas may also ban dogs completely, except for assistance dogs. Signs will tell you about these local restrictions.
- It is good practice wherever you are to keep your dog on a lead around livestock.
- On Open Access land and at the coast, you must put your dog on a lead around livestock. Between 1 March and 31 July, you must have your dog on a lead on Open Access land, even if there is no livestock on the land. These are legal requirements.
- A farmer can shoot a dog that is attacking or chasing livestock. They may not be liable to compensate the dog’s owner.
Let your dog off the lead if you feel threatened by livestock or horses. Do not risk getting hurt protecting your dog. Releasing your dog will make it easier for you both to reach safety.
The Countryside guide is published for England and Wales and separate editions for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
READ MORE ABOUT THE NEW CODE
\\\ The National Trails Code
The National Trails Countryside Code General Advice states
- Wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.
- Take hand sanitiser with you in case there are no handwashing facilities.
- Follow the Countryside Code.
- Be nice, say hello, share the space.
- Plan your adventure – know what to expect and what you can do.
- Take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit.
- Take care with BBQs and do not light fires.
- Always keep dogs under control and in sight.
- Dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do.
- Leave gates and property as you find them.
- Do not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals.
- Follow local signs and keep to marked paths unless wider access is available.
- Care for nature – do not cause damage or disturbance.
- Check your route and local conditions.
- Be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside.
- Remember to follow social distancing measures and stay safe.
The recent pandemic has bought about new changes to the ways we do things. Post lockdown restrictions may require households not to travel in certain areas of the UK. It’s advisable to check with your local council and social media websites before making special journeys.
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