Walkies! Our Top 10 winter dog walks in the UK.

From the Lake District to Hadrian’s Wall, we’re spoilt for choice for winter dog walks in the UK. Here are A-Plan’s top picks for some of the best dog walking routes for you to try in 2022.

Walkies! Top 10 winter dog walks in the UK - A-Plan Insurance

In addition to some firm favourites, which may be a little further afield, we also have links to help you find the best woodland and nature walks near you. Read on to find the right walk for you and your furry friend.

The New Forest

Located on the south-central coast of England lies the New Forest, one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pastureland, heathland, and forest in the south of England. It also has historical routes as the location is featured in the Domesday Book and proclaimed as a ‘royal forest’ by William The Conqueror around 1079.

A walk through the New Forest is perfect for animal lovers, and pets alike. Just ensure you keep your dog on a lead if you come across the famous wild horses.

It can get extremely busy in the summer months, which makes it ideal for a quiet winter or spring excursion.

For more information about the New Forest, including parking and routes (you can choose by distance) to suit you, click here.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall stretches almost 84 miles, coast to coast, across a stunning Cumbrian and Northumbrian landscape. While we don’t suggest you walk 84 miles, there are plenty of areas to enjoy a healthy stroll with your dog along the route, while enjoying a little Roman history.

Hadrian’s Wall was built to guard the wild northern frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years, under the command of Roman Emperor Hadrian, drawing an east to west border. With vast stretches of open land along the route, it’s an ideal place to enjoy watching your pooch run free and make the most of the Great Outdoors!

Visit English Heritage’s Hadrian’s Wall website for inspiration on which spot to head to.

Hampstead Heath

Just four miles from the centre of London, within ‘Zone 2’, Hampstead Heath covers over 800 acres of beautiful woodland and meadows, a firm favourite of North Londoners for decades. But did you know that Hampstead Heath inspired CS Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’? And it’s eccentric resident, Harry Hallowes, inspired Hollywood film ‘Hampstead’ starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson?

If you are more interested in exploring wildlife, there are 650 types of wildflowers and 180 species of birds on the heath, and plenty of open spaces to play fetch while you take in the eclectic mix of nature and cityscape. Why not download a map before you go?

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia is the largest national park in Wales, and home to the highest mountain in Wales. So, if would like a blend of uphill walks and flat open spaces, with scenery that will take your breath away, this is a great option. Wales is renowned for being one of the most dog-friendly places in the UK with a range of walks to suit your dog’s athleticism.

The more ambitious walks may tire out dogs with smaller legs or shorter muzzles, but there are milder walks, such as the Llanberis path, which is one of the easier routes, and walk as little or as much as your little dog likes. More ambitious dogs can head to Harlech’s Roman Steps and walk to the highest point.   

Find out more about walking your dog in Snowdonia here.

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons, also in Wales, is a stunning place to visit, with huge variety, encompassing 520 square miles of valleys, castles, the Black Mountains, moorland, waterfalls, caves, an escarpment that hits the highest point in Britain and stunning countryside and green fields.

The most recommended route for dog walking is the Four Falls Walk, which takes you via four waterfalls over 5.5 miles.  The more energetic dog can mountaineer the 4-mile Pen y Fan and Corn Du circular route and take a well-earned rest at the top of the summit, overlooking the Bristol Channel and Cambrian Mountains.

The park is known for being dog friendly, with plenty of places to stop for a cuppa with your pet. Find out everything you need to know about walking in the Brecon Beacons here.

Yorkshire Dales

There are many walks to choose from in the Yorkshire area. Boasting a hugely varied landscape of waterfalls, moorlands, caves, rolling hills and stone cottages, across a range of beautiful locations, your dog may feel he’s hit the jackpot on arrival.

Hardcastle Crags comes highly recommended, with 15 miles of footpaths running alongside the river, to more challenging hikes at the top of the valley. Pets are very welcome at the café and Gibson Mill. If your dog is happy to remain on a lead, another recommended route is through the Wentworth Castle Gardens – and the Long Barn café.

If you would like to explore the Dales, it’s hard to find a route that isn’t dog friendly! Dogs are very welcome across the entire estate, however only assistance dogs are permitted on the boardwalk of the National Nature Reserve at Malham Tarn. Take a look at these additional recommendations.

The Lake District

It is hard to believe that, after outlining the beauty and scale of the previous suggestions, the Lake District is England’s largest National Park, and World Heritage site. The Lake District is a beautifully picturesque area to enjoy and discover with your dog, with plenty of dog friendly cottages and cabins in the area if you wish to extend your stay to cover more ground.

The more ambitious pooch can attempt Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, or stroll around Wastwater, the deepest lake running 3 miles to the west of the park. The less ambitious dog could try the quiet, 5-mile Thirlmere route which incorporates woodland and plenty of space for some off-lead exploration.

With over 912 miles to explore in total, you can return time after time to try out a new spot with your favourite furry companion. Here are some additional recommended walks.

Lizard Point

If you have watched BBC’s Poldark, you may be familiar with Cornwall’s’ Lizard Point cliff walk and rugged scenery.

The Lizard Point to Mullion Cove beach route comes highly recommended, taking in 5.5 miles of ocean views (and maybe even a little seal-spotting) and stunning scenery. Follow the South West Coast Path, but keep your dogs in check as this is a cliff walk with plenty of terrain changes. Dogs are allowed on Mullion beach all year round.

If this route doesn’t suit you, there are a total of 630 miles of the Coast Path to consider, all of which are outlined by Rudy the Labrador here.

Arthurs Seat

You’ll find Arthurs Seat in Holyrood Park at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Arthurs Seat, near Edinburgh, is the highest point of a group of hills formed from a volcano! With an average ‘paw rating’ of 9.5/10 there is a range of ambitious – and less strenuous -options for your pet.

Head to the top where you and your canine companion can rest up and enjoy vast views across Edinburgh. If you prefer something a little less steep, there is a lot to explore in the park, including the 15th century St Anthony’s Chapel or the freshwater Duddingston Loch. For open green spaces, follow Queen’s Drive and the High Road through the park.

It can get busy at weekends, so a mid-week adventure could offer a little more room for maneuver. Find out more about the location here.

Dartmoor

Dartmoor in southern Devon is around the same size as London, but it couldn’t be more different in its appeal. There is plenty on offer from castle ruins for your princely pup to sniff around, rolling hills to roll down and 3 lakes to get soaked in! We suggest taking a towel if your pet can’t resist a plunge – and a dry dog jacket if it’s cold.

Uniquely, Dartmoor also offers a specific dog walking field, where you can book a one hour off-lead session away from livestock and nesting birds for up to 4 dogs at a time. Set within a 5-acre meadow, there is plenty of space for your dog to blow off some steam.

If you would like to find the best routes by distance, time or challenge, you can find all of them here.

Find a dog walk near me

As refreshing as it can be to head out for the day to the coast or the Lake District, you’d be surprised at how many woodlands and English Heritage sites there are available closer to home.

For doggies that don’t travel well, this could be a great way to treat them to a day out without the stressful car journey.

The Woodlands Trust website features a very handy tool where you can enter your postcode and a map of all the woodland near you pops up.

The map will tell you which ones are public or private, and even how to get there via Google Maps, whether by vehicle or on lead.

Parking is usually free at these locations. Find your nearest woodland here.

Another great option is to see what the National Trust has to offer in your area. Click on their website, enter your postcode or town, and you may be surprised at how much is available in your locality.

Each suggestion will outline whether dogs are allowed off lead, opening times and admission price (if applicable). Alternatively, memberships start at £72 a year for one adult, and dogs are free, which could work out pretty economical over a 12 month period if you enjoy heading out with your dog regularly.

If you’re still open to suggestions, the National Trust features a list of their best places for dog walking here, along with details on what your dog can expect, information on tick and Lyme disease prevention and dog-friendly cottages near their sites. The National Trust is clearly very fond of dogs, much like your friendly A-Plan team.

Find your nearest dog-friendly National Trust walk or location here.

What are the health benefits of walking?

From managing blood pressure to finding an enjoyable exercise to lose weight, walking remains one of the UK’s most popular forms of exercise. What’s not to like? Not only is it free, it gets us out of our homes, which have become our hub for work and play these days.

We are fortunate in that the UK has some truly astounding countryside to enjoy, so, team that with walking your dog, some funny moments, and you have a winning formula for healthy exercise and stress relief.

According to Bupa, dog owners walk, on average, 160 minutes per week. That works out to 30 minutes longer than those who walk regularly but without a dog. Consider that a 155lb person could burn around 300 calories per hour of walking, walking a furry friend could burn over 600 calories a month more than walking without a dog. If you’re looking for an excuse to adopt a dog to join you in your adventures this year, maybe this is it?

Keen to keep fit and healthy in 2022? Find out more about A-Plan’s health and wellbeing policies to help keep you fighting fit here, or find your local branch, here.