If there’s one thing we love here at Canine Cottages, it’s taking our pooch to a huge country park. Acres upon acres of wonderful places to run and play with your best pal, where you can meet other dog owners and generally have a good time. Whether you have a dog who likes an easy stroll, sniffing the air and meeting the odd new chum or you have a pack of hounds whose only interest is to run for miles and miles, we have the country park for you!
As with most country parks, they are often surrounded by livestock and are breeding grounds for wildlife so if you have an inquisitive dog, remember to keep it under control at all times. You may also meet horses with riders or wild ponies in certain areas so make sure to keep pooches who are not so keen on our equine friends on leads.
We have compiled a list of our favourite dog-friendly country parks for you – all you need to do is grab your walking gear, grab the dog(s) and have a great time!
This huge park covering 660 acres of nature trails, wild wooded valleys, footpaths and glens covered with gorse and trees is situated to the east of the seaside town of Hastings. Spectacular sandstone cliffs protect the park from the sea and the clifftop views are simply stunning, reaching across the English Channel with views to France on a clear day.
Set in the High Weald AONB, a large part of the park is now a Special Area of Conservation. The Hastings Cliffs to Pett Beach is a SSSI and it also incorporates Hastings Country Park and Fairlight Place Farm as a Local Nature Reserve.
As you walk with your dog, you will see a variety of wildlife including Peregrines which breed on the high cliffs and Yellowhammers which breed on the gorse-covered hillsides. The area is so big that you can take a long solitary walk with just your dog for company, or visit one of the more popular areas where you’ll meet lots of friendly dog walkers.
The Firehills is one of the best areas and has its own Visitor Centre; you can head along to the nearby dog-friendly tea rooms afterwards where you can have a well-deserved cream tea and look across the hills towards France.
Hounds listen up: Tell your humans there is an ice-cream van on site in the summer. They probably won’t let you have any but you might be able to steal the end of a cornet.
Stay nearby: Belmont Cottage, Hastings | sleeps 1 dog + 6 humans
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A beautiful 250-acre lake and a local nature reserve, Pugneys is a great place for canines. Originally a mine and sand and gravel quarry, it now offers two gorgeous lakes overlooked by the imposing remains of Sandal Castle.
The larger lake is great for water sports so head for the smaller one if your dog likes to chase coloured moving things! The latter however is designated as a nature reserve so dogs need to be kept under close control, especially around the 100 or so swans who have made the lake their home. The path is flat so great for older dogs or those who are not so mobile anymore.
While wonderful for walkies in summer, there is something about this glacial lake covered by foreboding grey skies in winter that makes you want to have a brisk walk and then return home to sit by the fire with tea and crumpets. That’s our kind of winter walk!
Hounds listen up: There is a hot water dog wash on site which you will want to avoid at all costs. Make sure you head instead to the dog accessory shop where you might get a smart new collar and some liver treats. Far more acceptable.
Stay nearby: Claphouse Fold Cottages, Barnsley | sleeps 2 dogs + 3 humans
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Norfolk is known as one of the friendliest places for waggy tails in the UK! Situated just a short drive from the elegant Georgian town of Holt, this country park is a wonderful escape from urban life. Awarded a Green Flag, the park is brilliant for those who don’t have the same sense of smell as their dog!
If you’re always ending up getting lost on long walks, you will love it here as all trails lead back to the Visitor Centre – they are colour coded, so just pick up a map from the Centre. Even if you get lost and your hound decides that today is not the day to lead you back to where you came from, you will still find your way back to your car.
The park is ideal not only for energetic young dogs and humans who like to be out for hours but also those who just like a short stroll. Delve right into the heart of the woods where your dog can sniff amongst the bracken and have a wonderful time finding sticks and balls left behind by other well-meaning pooches.
Hounds listen up: There are lots of picnic spots on site so make sure the humans pack lots of meat-based products and perhaps a chew to finish off with while you lie on your favourite tartan rug, waiting for the humans to put down their plates.
Stay nearby: Holt Gables, Holt | sleeps 2 dogs + 6 humans
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The ancient woodland of Belhus Woods is perfect dog walking territory. Meadows and grassland surround beautiful lakes, great for the dog who likes a walk with a view. Brave canines can take a refreshing dip in the lakes and streams and with over 300 acres to explore, you can take a different route each time. One of the lakes is great for nervous doggy swimmers as it has a gradual entrance so that dogs can paddle and swim in gradually rather than belly-flop in as some like to do.
The park is great for walking in winter weather too as the woods are so dense that you can pretty much be sheltered from the rain – dogs won’t care but it’s a selling point for humans. You can enjoy a picnic at the side of the lake in summer and do keep a look out for the flocks of parakeets and jays that have been spotted around the park.
There is also an on-site Visitor Centre where you can buy food to feed the ducks, assuming you have a duck-friendly dog, as well as a café. Here you can relax after your walk with a nice cup of tea and toasted tea cakes or crumpets. There are outside tables so that your canine chum doesn’t miss out on the feast – pack some biscuits and treats so they don’t feel left out. There is a bowl for water and outside tap to wash off muddy paws before getting back in the car – all in all a great doggy day out!
Hounds listen up: Tell your humans that if you are just going for a walk, it is better to go in the morning to avoid picnickers who don’t have dogs. Now while these situations are highly desirable, non-dog people (yes, they do exist) do not always appreciate a launch from behind by a dog looking for a left-over ham sandwich.
Stay nearby: The Herdsman, Essex | sleeps 3 dogs + 2 humans
A superb fusion of country and coast, visitors to this park can enjoy the best of both worlds. It counts on over 500 acres of woodland and grassland, below which lay the award-winning golden sands of Cefn Sidan beach.
This is one of Wales’ most popular dog-friendly parks and no wonder as there are acres of walks through the magical forests and trails – a real dog’s paradise! Structures from WWI and WWII remain in areas of the park which is great for those interested in wartime history.
If you prefer flatter walking, the adjoining parkland has lots of space for dogs to run uninterrupted as well as the 8-mile stretch of beach below with its flat sands and dunes, perfect for a walk and paddle. The park offers a Visitor Centre and plenty of picnic and BBQ areas.
Hounds listen up: BBQ areas and picnic areas – we think you know what that means. Just remember your manners or you’ll be put in the car.
Stay nearby: Kidwell Cottage, Kidwelly | sleeps 2 dogs + 2 humans
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While your dog might not understand the story of Robin Hood in its totality, he will still enjoy an afternoon out at this lovely park. From shorter circular walks to two-hour trails, this 450-acre country park is now part of the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and home to a fascinating ecosystem.
There are 900 wise old veteran oak trees which you and your dog will have a great time exploring but do keep dogs under control and on leads around the Visitor Centre. Though the park is open to canines all year round, they do put on some events such as bird-watching walks where dogs are not allowed so do check before. However, it still remains one of the best dog-friendly nature reserves in the UK.
Hounds listen up: This is allegedly where Robin Hood hid out with his band of Merry Men. As exciting as this is, do not embarrass your humans by trying to jump the fence to try it out for size.
Also – heads up. The Forest Table Restaurant at the entrance to the park is where humans sometimes stop for lunch. Now... if you were to steal a sausage or two from the rich to give to the poor… surely that would be allowed? It’s history right??
Stay nearby: Beauvale Priory - Abbey View, Newthorpe | sleeps 1 dog + 4 humans
This beautiful Castle and Country Park on the rugged south Ayrshire coast is packed full of fascinating walkies for you and your canine chums. Spectacular landscaped gardens and lush woodland make this the perfect place for a day out and it's one of the best parks for dogs in Scotland.
Formally the playground of the 10th Earl of Cassillis, it maintains its opulent atmosphere, from the castle to the perfectly manicured grounds. You can explore the woods, parkland, beaches and cliffs although be careful along cliff edges and always keep dogs on leads.
Hounds listen up: Some dogs have been allowed to jump in the swan pond and frighten the swans. You do not want to be part of this so make your human put your lead on around this area, you can run free later.
Stay nearby: Professors Cottage, Ballantrae | sleeps 1 dog + 2 humans
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With over 200 acres of woodland and parkland, just brilliant for hounds who love running around looking for sticks, there are also formal gardens for the more refined pooch.
There is a Gothic Revival castle in the grounds for humans to look at and lots of interesting walks around the park and lake. A huge open space where dogs can run off-lead and run after balls is of particular interest but bear in mind that while it has post and rail fencing, it is not completely secure so is only for dogs with good recall. To rest your weary legs, the park has a tea room as well as a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs of your visit.
Hounds listen up: The grassy area next to the car park is where you can meet new friends. Make the human throw a ball and then just ignore it and go off and meet doggy pals instead.
Stay nearby: The Tea House, Hilton | sleeps 2 dogs + 4 humans
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With a massive 65 acres of countryside for your pup to roam, this is one of the best dog-friendly country parks in Devon.
Fido will love sniffing out a whole range of scents from a variety of landscapes including wildflower grassland, scrub and woodland, while there are also cleared paths where he can chase a ball to his heart’s content.
The country park is easily accessed, located on the outskirts of Dawlish and with a free car park too. Or you could get the bus to Port Road bus stop which is next to the park and reduce your carbon pawprint.
Hounds listen up: Ask your human if you can join Devon Loves Dogs – a free membership scheme for dog walkers where you can make friends with lots of other local pups on social walks!
Stay nearby: Corfu Cottage, Dawlish | sleeps 2 dogs + 6 humans
Looking for more Devon walkies? Paw through our guide here.
This country park forms the largest area of woodland in West Cornwall which is ripe for exploration by your hound. In fact, there are over 9 miles of paths and 250 acres of woodland and lakes to explore, so if you’ve got an inexhaustible dog, may we suggest a visit?!
Navigate your way around via the series of colour-coded footpaths – the pink trail around the lake is mostly level and a great option if you’ve also got little ones or a pushchair to handle as well as an excitable dog!
When you’re all tuckered out, there is a café and a picnic area where you can take a breather and enjoy the tranquil and peaceful woodland atmosphere.
Hounds listen up: If you want to run wild and free, we understand – ask your human to check this map and find the woodland areas where you can go lead-free.
Stay nearby: Hellfire Jack's, Portreath | sleeps 1 dog and 10 humans
Looking for more Cornwall walkies? Take a look at our guide.
Truly a country park to set tails wagging, this dog-friendly destination combines woodland and a lake with 3 miles of year-round, dog-friendly beach where pups can run, and run, and run.
Situated around 3 miles south of Amble, Druridge Bay Country Park is easily accessible and has plenty of facilities, including car parks, toilets, a café, and a play area which little ones will love. Take a level, accessible walk around the lake or tackle the dunes to get to the tranquil expanse of beach – the choice is yours.
Druridge Bay is also a great place for a picnic with your pup – either sit on the picnic benches which have views of the lovely lake, or settle down in the dunes to find some shelter from the coastal breeze and soak up the fresh, salty air. We can't think of a more perfect park for dogs.
Hounds listen up: Keep your nose to the ground – the country park often hosts social dog walks where you can make friends with lots of other four-pawed pals.
Stay nearby: Beachcombers Retreat, Low Hauxley | sleeps 3 dogs + 6 humans
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Around 7 miles south of Stroud, in the glorious countryside of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the idyllic valley that’s home to Woodchester Park.
This National Trust-owned site was formerly a landscaped park in the 18th and 19th centuries and once had five lakes. Only one remains today – Park Mill Pond – and the ‘lost landscape’ contains a variety of scenery that your dog will love exploring.
You can embark on several waymarked walks, some of which are steep and will certainly tire out even the most active of dogs! There is also a play trail which the kids will love, leading towards a spooky, unfinished Victorian mansion.
Hounds listen up: Make sure your human puts you on a lead – there are often grazing livestock in the surrounding fields and we know how you can get overexcited!
Stay nearby: Shears Cottage, Nailsworth | sleeps 2 dogs + 6 humans
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We hope that you and your pooch now can see the wonderful things that you can do together. Wherever you decide to go, we hope that you all have a pawsome time!
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.