Walking the dog this time of year can be a photo-worthy occasion.
So much so infact, you should share your dog-walking snaps with us on Instagram.
And as the months get cooler, it might seem tempting to curl up on the couch and refuse to venture outside – but keeping your dog fit and healthy during autumn and winter is just as important as making sure they get daily nutritious meals.
Why not combine a spot of four-legged exercise with a trip to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country. Autumn brings out foraging wildlife amidst the red and gold foliage, so the woodlands will look particularly stunning at this time of year.
Get yourself off the sofa and out into the fresh air. Read on for our list of the 5 must-see dog walks across the UK.
Winter is Coming
Don’t make the mistake of feeding your dog more this winter. Most dogs should actually be fed less to compensate for lower activity levels in the cold weather. It’s more likely, in fact, that your dog will gain weight during the winter, so keep your pup active inside the house even if it’s too cold to play outdoors, and be careful of going overboard with festive treats.
Make sure that your dog has access to fresh water and keep feeding them balanced, delicious meals. Some experts recommend increasing your pup’s intake of omega 3’s and 6’s to protect their skin – you’ll find lots of these healthy fatty oils in our fish flavour range of hypoallergenic dog food.
Staying Safe After Dark
As we get closer to winter and there’s less light during the day, you might find that you need to walk the dog after dark. Keep yourself and your pup safe by making some small changes to your routine.
Be smart: don’t use headphones at night, walk against the traffic so that you can see what’s coming (and so that they can see you!) and don’t walk on the road, even in residential areas. Always have a charged phone on you in case of emergencies, and stick to well-lit paths that you know like the back of your hand. Never take your dog out at night without a leash, as they might be surprised by cars or wildlife and run off or into the road.
Make sure that your dog can be seen by drivers and cyclists with a reflective dog coat and collar, which also acts as an extra warm layer against the cold. Wear reflective clothing to ensure that you’re visible as well. Illuminate the way forward, eliminate trip hazards and make it easier to clean up after your dog (and not to step in their mess) with a headlamp, leaving your hands free to take firm hold of their leash.
Looking to be inspired this autumn? Here are five beautiful places to walk the dog this season.
Kingston Lacy, Dorset
An enchanting autumnal walk, the trail alongside Beech Avenue is best taken when the leaves turn red and gold. Spanning a little under four miles (an hour and a half stretch), this walk in part follows the row of trees planted in 1835, a gift to his mother from William John Bankes. 731 trees were placed alongside a new road, 365 on one side and 366 on the other, representing all of the days of the year (including the leap). There are twelve National Trust marked paths in all, including the chance to walk the pup near an ancient Iron Age hill fort at Bradbury Rings, or a slightly longer route that boasts incredible views of the Dorset countryside. Dogs are allowed everywhere but the house and the formal gardens, so there’s lots to explore.
One of Dorset’s most grandiose country houses, Kingston Lacy is an ornate country mansion from the 17th century. The house has an interesting and varied history, even being where Margaret Beaufort (grandmother to Henry VIII) grew up when it was part of the Wimborne Estate. Also a wonderful place to visit, Kingston Lacy holds an excellent collection of artwork by renowned artists, including Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as an exceptionally fine collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts.
Source: National Trust.
Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
Autumn is one of the best times to make the trek to Hardcastle Crags, as the sweeping views across the countryside turn a burnished gold. There’s also a great deal of wildlife to see, the place an unexpected nature haven considering that this tranquil valley once held a busy railway during the Industrial Revolution. If you’re interested in Yorkshire’s industrial past, the Mill Walk is the perfect option as it takes you along the river to Gibson Mill, which was a working cotton mill until 1890. The Weaving Shed Café at the mill is a great stopping point for cake and cuppa.
A favourite trail of some of our Lovejoys friends is slightly more challenging, (classed as moderate by the National Trust) taking you through the South Pennines to the top of the crags for exemplary views of the riverside landscape. You’ll see plunging streams, the remains of a grand trestle bridge, and should spot foraging squirrels and jays preparing for migration at this time of year. This is a 2-3 mile walk that takes up to two hours, and lets you see most of what the wooded valley has to offer.
Source: National Trust.
Ben Lomond, Scottish Highlands
Scotland’s most southerly Munro also boasts incredibly easy access, lying just twenty miles northwest of Glasgow. Popular with locals and tourists alike, summer sees many try their hand at climbing the 12km trek up to the summit, where the views are truly spectacular. This tourist path is well-signposted (on a sunny day, it’s bound to busy) but should not be underestimated – and in poorer weather, never attempted by inexperienced climbers, as snow can be seen even in autumn. A Munro is still a mountain, after all.
Though if this is a challenge you don’t particularly fancy, take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside to see similar stunning views this season. For an accessible walk with the dog to get some fresh air and exercise in beautiful surroundings, merely follow the shoreline from the Rowardennan or Balloch car parks. The water laps tranquilly along the shore, and pups can wade into the water or play games of fetch. A lovely way to retreat from the city buzz.
Source: National Trust Scotland.
Derwentwater, Lake District
This is an easy trek also around the water but this time back across the border in Cumbria. One of the most popular walks in the Lake District, the full trek takes about 5-6 hours over up to 10 miles, and won’t have you facing any tough terrain. This is a more leisurely than challenging route, making it suitable for a stroll during the winter months, especially with its proximity to Keswick town centre (only 10 minutes walk). Dogs are welcome, as long as they behave well in sight of wildlife.
The full walk around shoreline is full of magnificent sights to see. Friar’s Craig is particularly popular to stop at with a camera, remarked upon by John Ruskin as one the three most beautiful scenes in Europe, and where you’ll also find his memorial. The entrust sculpture of two cupped hands marks 100 years of the National Trust in the Lake District, as Brandelhow woods were their first acquired location in the area. You should also be able to spot some wildlife, including endangered red squirrels - Beatrix Potter wrote The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin close by. This is such a beautiful area that it was even used as a backdrop in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and if that’s not a reason to bring both dog and camera, we’re not sure what is.
Source: Wikipedia Commons.
Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
With over 5,000 acres of land free for our four-legged friends to delve into, Ashridge Estate is a very popular dog walking destination. You’ll find many species of birds, bats, butterflies and deer on the estate, as well as a vast variety of flora and fauna. In autumn, these woodland paths gain an ethereal beauty as the leaves change colour, and sunshine sneaks through the foliage to make beautiful patterns on trees and trails. Dogs are, of course, always welcome but keep them in sight and under control at all times – particularly as deer may pop out at any moment.
There are many ways to explore the estate with eight self-led walks, which will take you past historical sites, such as the fort at Ivinghoe Beacon, and stop at the 13th century deer park. Our favourites from the National Trust include the one and a half hour Duncombe Terrace Walk for the chance to see deer and butterflies in their autumn splendour and the three mile Ashridge Ancient Trees Walk for a gentle stroll through the woodlands past timeworn sweet chestnuts. A real treat for both you and the pup.
Source: National Trust.
This autumn, get your dog ready for winter by staying active and choosing delicious, nutritious dog food that’s hypoallergenic and full of important vitamins. Keep yourself and your dog safe after dark with a reflective vest, collar and head torch, and make sure that both you and your four-legged family member are ready and set to explore the great British outdoors this season.
With all the beautiful autumn colours, leaves and smells in the air, we hope we’ve inspired you to try a different walk this autumn to see the landscape in all its red and gold splendour. Wrap up warm, grab your pup’s favourite lead and step out into the crisp air and take your dog on a beautiful walk to remember through the breath-taking British countryside.