Kate’s top 10 head-clearing dog walks

by Kate Shapland

One of my favourite ways to escape the work grind is to go for a good long walk with my two Scottie dogs – nothing like it for clearing the head. We live in west London so most of our long walks are done in Richmond and Bushy Parks, but when we have more time we’re happy to jump in the car and drive to the perfect spot. These are 10 of our all-time favourite walks

The Doone Valley, North Devon

Fans of RD Blackmore’s classic seventeenth century novel, Lorna Doone, will relish the challenge of this five-and-a-half mile circular walk, across dramatic grassy moors then down into a picturesque valley, past Blackmore’s memorial stone and Oare church, the setting for Lorna’s eventful wedding. Strenuous at times, you may be in need of a good meal and rest at the end of the day – both you and your dog will be welcomed at the Blue Ball Inn in nearby Countisbury.

Stonebarrow Hill and Golden Cap, Dorset

Join the South West Coast Path at Stonebarrow Hill, near Charmouth, and enjoy a two-mile circular walk in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). If you’re feeling energetic, it’s also a great starting point for 25 miles of footpaths across the Golden Cap estate – the highest point on the south coast. You’ll love the magnificent views across the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. If your dog is a swimmer or paddler there’s lots of opportunity for a splash about in the sea afterwards at Charmouth’s east beach (after 6pm during the summer months).

Green Chain Walk, Crystal Palace, London

At just over five miles, with the option to detour through pretty Dulwich Park, this section of London’s Green Chain Walk takes you from Crystal Palace in the south east of the city to Nunhead Cemetery, a nature reserve and one of the capital’s seven Magnificent Cemeteries. You can find out more about the 1851 Great Exhibition, Horniman Museum and Dulwich Art Gallery en route. And in Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Park well-behaved dogs can roam free – often a rare treat in London.

The Seven Sisters, South Downs

The Seven Sisters path along the South Downs Way, some 10 miles between Alfriston and Eastbourne, is often cited as a favourite route for walkers. And you can see why. The views over the white cliffs are breathtaking and while you need strong legs to get you up and down those rollercoaster hills, you’ll feel a great sense of achievement afterwards. Your dog is sure to be wagging its tail too, as there’s plenty of fresh air and great smells to take in. Just keep your dog on a lead – rabbits live precariously close to the edge.

Derwentwater, Lake District

Walkers are spoilt for choice in the beautiful Lake District, and on this eight-mile walk, starting from the market town of Keswick and stretching around Derwentwater, you’ll witness some of the best scenery the National Park can offer. It’s an easy, if long, stroll, so just take your time and enjoy the woodland and wildlife along the way. With many shallow shores also along the route, it’s perfect for dogs who like to paddle. You might be tempted to dip your toes too.

Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

It takes fit walkers about a week to trek the 84-mile path alongside Hadrian’s Wall. But there are also shorter sections of the World Heritage Site that walkers of all abilities can explore. A circular five-mile moderate route, starting not far from the Roman Fort at Homesteads, takes you past the iconic Sycamore Gap, as seen in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. Keep your dog on the lead and under control at all times as you’ll lose count of the number of sheep you’ll pass – you’ll both sleep well at night!

Inveraray Woodland Walk, Argyll

On the banks of Loch Fyne, Inveraray is a fine example of a Scottish planned town, complete with a castle and jail. This two-mile walk, starting at the Baroque, Palladian and Gothic-styled castle, takes you on a climb up to a watchtower on Dun na Cuaiche. Here you’ll be rewarded with a bench to sit on and spectacular views of the loch below and glens in the distance. Back down in the town, reward yourself, and your four-legged chum, with a well-earned drink at the dog-friendly George Hotel.

The Quiraing, Skye, The Highlands

The Quiraing, a landslide on the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye, is simply stunning – in all weather conditions. And walking a four-mile circuit via the summit, through heather and on well-defined paths, will have a lasting impression. On a bright day, you’ll have clear views of the magnificent landscape and the Outer Hebrides. If it’s raining cats and dogs, the experience will still be mystical. Pack your camera and get your pooch to pose – this Highland adventure together will be one you’ll want to capture.

Rhossili Bay, Gower

Rhossili beach on the Gower coast of Wales was named by TripAdvisor as one of the best beaches in the UK, and the 11th best beach in the world. Why is it so special? Head off on this easy four-mile walk and you’ll soon find out. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the first in the UK to be awarded this accolade, the sandy beach is backed by sand dunes – and it’s dog-friendly all year round. Check tide times before you set out, bring a ball and you’ll discover the walk, estimated to take under two hours, will take a good bit longer!

Big Dog Forest, County Fermanagh

It’s worth going for a walk in Big Dog Forest in Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark for the name alone. But you and your dog – whatever its size – will have a fun day out here, walking the two-and-a-half miles around Big Dog and Little Dog, two hills that are believed to be named after Irish wolfhounds belonging to the legendary giant Finn MacCool.