Beaches are often deserted, tourist hot spots abandoned and cold fingers can always be warmed up in one of the UK’s many dog-friendly pubs.
So, wrap up warm (that includes your dog if they’re a thin-coated breed) and head out on one of these walks to take in the wonder of the season. We’ve chosen some of the best trails for winter weather, suitable for less hardy dogs and owners.
The Tarka Trail, named after the otter in Henry Williamson’s famous tale, consists of 30 miles of footpath that offers some fantastic dog walks.
The section between Great Torrington and Bideford in particular is a good one to tackle in winter, as part of it takes in a disused railway line and is firmer under foot.
If you’re need of refreshment, seek out the Puffing Billy café takeaway located in the former railway station.
This riverside walk starts from the town centre and heads out along the River Avon, giving great views of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
There’s lots to see along the route – including Holy Trinity Church, where William Shakespeare is buried – and if it starts to get too cold, there are plenty of dog-friendly places in town to warm up.
A must for any fans of Downton Abbey! On the Castle Howard estate there are three waymarked walks of varying lengths that take in views of the castle itself, as well as wood and farmland in the heart of the North York Moors.
The trails range from easy to moderate and full details can be found by downloading a map on the website.
As one of the UK’s most beautiful dog-friendly beaches, Rhossili Bay offers something special in the winter months, when you can see its natural rugged charm at its most peaceful. The four-mile stretch of beach is a joy even in the cold and a romp along the sand is a great way to blow away any cobwebs.
The Gower Peninsula is popular with holidaymakers due to its regular appearance on lists of the best British beaches, but in winter you’ll find it much quieter making it an entirely different experience.
Find out more at www.visitwales.com.
The North Norfolk coast is a popular holiday destination for dog owners all year round, due to its big wide skies, number of beaches and ‘dogs welcome’ ethos. The pathways through the reed marshes at Blakeney are fairly level, so it’s a good place to walk smaller or older dogs who might struggle with more rugged terrain.
The unusual landscape is home to an abundance of wildlife, with the Cley Bird Reserve to the east, which has been protected as a bird breeding sanctuary since 1926. Between April and August each year there are dog restrictions at Blakeney Point due to the presence of ground-nesting birds, so winter is a great time to investigate with a bit more freedom.
For more information on the Blakeney National Nature Reserve visit the National Trust website.
Felixstowe seafront is over four miles long with a wide promenade that stretches down to Landguard Point at the end. Many locals exercise their dogs at the Point, so even out of season it’s a good place for some sociable sniffing.
Dogs are also allowed to visit Landguard Fort, the fortress now looked after by English Heritage. The current fort was built in the 18th Century to defend the coastline from attack and is an interesting place to explore.
This beautiful forest trail is a good choice for a winter walk as the trees provide shelter from the worst of the wind.
The marked routes comprise flat paths that are suitable for prams and wheelchairs, so it’s particularly good for families looking for a fun stroll without having to leave anyone behind. There are plenty of picnic benches throughout too, so pack a flask of coffee or soup to keep you going.
Looked after by the Woodland Trust, Heatherhall Woods is home to a conservation project working to protect red squirrels and bats.
Bushy Park is the second largest royal park in London at over 1,000 acres, yet it’s one of the lesser known. It’s located close to Hampton Court Palace – former home of Henry VIII – and makes for a wonderful place for a winter walk.
The landscape is a mixture of grassland, gardens and ponds so there’s plenty to explore, and it’s home to red and fallow deer. Take a stroll along the mile-long Chestnut Avenue designed by Sir Christopher Wren where you’ll find the impressive Diana Fountain, restored in 2009.
The Pheasantry Café is open daily throughout the winter for hot drinks and food.
The New Forest is a dog walker’s paradise, and it’s not just a good place to visit in the warmer months. The Wilverley Wander Trail is made up of moderately smooth gravel paths that are clearly marked and easy to follow, whatever the weather.
Wilverley Inclosure has an interesting mix of young and old conifers and broadleaf trees, as well as open grassy areas. It’s a good place for wildlife spotting – from roosting bats to sheltering deer. There are plenty of benches along the way for pit stops, but you might like to pay a visit to the dog-friendly Old Station Tea Rooms in nearby Holmsley.
This 50-acre family-owned estate of parkland looks magical in the snow and its wide-open spaces are ideal for free running dogs. The country park has a variety of trails that take in the stunning scenery, including the iconic tower designed by Capability Brown.
Dogs are made very welcome at Broadway Tower – with dog-friendly seating areas in the café and restaurant – and there’s even a circular walk specially designed for four-legged visitors that includes agility obstacles.
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For pet insurance, Admiral introduce to Insurance Factory Ltd who arrange and administer the policy. Insurance Factory Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 306164). Registered in England and Wales Number 02982445. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB. The policy is underwritten by HDI Global Specialty SE UK. Registered in Germany, registration number HRB 211924. Registered Office Roderbruchstraße 26, 30655 Hannover, Germany acting through its UK branch whose office is located at 10 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3BE, United Kingdom. Authorised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, and authorised to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA No. 659331). Third party liability (dogs only) is underwritten by Ageas Insurance Limited, Ageas House, Hampshire Corporate Park, Templars Way, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO53 3YA, Registered in England and Wales No. 354568.
I’ve spent 20 years writing about pets and exploring the wonderful relationships they have with their owners. I started as a staff writer on Dogs Today magazine, working my way up to become deputy editor in 2008. In 2010, I left the office to pursue a freelance career, relocated to north Norfolk and started a family.
Over the years I’ve contributed thoughtful human-interest features, celebrity interviews and investigative news stories to publications including The Sunday Times, Dogs Today, Dogs Monthly and Your Cat. I’ve also ghost-written veterinary books and press releases for the pet industry.
When I’m not writing, I enjoy long walks in the Norfolk countryside with my rescue lurcher Popsie. These are always followed by tea and cake.