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Country parks for canines holiday cottages

Days out

Country parks for canines

Elianne 08 May 2018

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 country parks for you – all you need to do is grab your walking gear, grab the dog(s) and have a great time!

Hastings Country Park, Hastings, East Sussex

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.

Horses grazing at Hastings Country Park in East Sussex

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 in our dog-friendly Sussex cottages!

Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield, Yorkshire

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.

A terrier dog sitting next to its owner who is holding flowers

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 in our dog-friendly Yorkshire cottages!

Holt Country Park, Holt, Norfolk

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 in our dog-friendly Norfolk cottages!

Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Essex

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.

A dog on the lead exploring the woods with a boy

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 in our dog-friendly Essex cottages!

Pembrey Country Park, Llanelli, Wales

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 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.

A dog sitting in a field of pink flowers

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 in our dog-friendly Wales cottages!

Sherwood Forest Country Park, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

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.

A bulldog wearing a Robin Hood style green feathered hat

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 in our dog-friendly Heart of England cottages!

Culzean Country Park, Maybole, Scotland

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.

Culzean Castle and Country Park at Maybole 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 in our dog-friendly Scotland cottages!

Elvaston Country Park, Elvaston, Derbyshire

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 in our dog-friendly Derbyshire cottages!

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!

Old Barn review by Willow & Bobby: North East Canine Critics 2019
Canine Critic
Willow & Bobby 05 November 2019
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