It has to be said that us Londoners seem to be absolutely batty about pooches. After all, this is the city that has the world’s most dog-friendly transport network as well as dog-friendly bowling alleys, cinemas, pubs, restaurants – you name it we’ve got it. So it would stand to reason that we’ve also got some pretty pooch-tastic dog walks. Here’s our rundown of 20 of the best dog walks in London and the best dog-friendly parks in London:
Dog walks in London
1. Highgate Wood
The leafy Highgate Woods offers you a little escape to the countryside without ever having to leave the city. It’s 28 hectares of wild and ancient woodland set between East Finchley and – yep, you guessed it – Highgate, and come Springtime, it blooms a beautiful shade of purple due to the bluebells that are found here. As if that wasn’t enough, there are some great trails for pooches here, as well as a whole host of critters and different wildlife habitats.
Nearest stations: Highgate or East Finchley.
2. Epping Forest
Keeping with the woodland theme here, but this time with somewhere that spreads well into Essex, Epping Forest is a vast spot that offers over 1,500 acres’ worth of shrubbery, lakes, rivers, cute little bridges and plenty of historic spots. It’s London’s largest open space and so is an absolute dream for doggos. There are nine marked trails here – all different lengths – so there’s plenty to choose from for you and your four-legged friend.
Nearest station: Theydon Bois.
3. The Regent’s Canal
The famous Regent’s Canal, completed all the way back in 1820, links Paddington with Limehouse and passes leafy Little Venice, through Camden and all the way to Victoria Park and Mile End. Towpaths run the whole length of the canal, leading you to many hidden gems along the way – including dog-friendly eateries and pubs aplenty. Win, win! We’d recommend keeping your dog on a lead here though if they like to chase birds – there are plenty of geese, ducks and even swans enroute. If you fancy something a bit more unique on this route, then charter your own GoBoat – pooches are more than encouraged!
Nearest stations: Paddington, Little Venice, Camden Town, King’s Cross St Pancras – take your pick!
4. The Lee Valley Walk
This next addition really deserves its spot on this roundup of the best dog walks in London. A lengthy, almost 16-mile trail will take you all the way from the Limehouse Basin up to Waltham Cross along the River Lea – Adele fans anyone? – passing Hackney Marshes, Waltham Abbey, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and more. We’re not suggesting you do the whole thing – unless you want to of course – but the part around the marshes is well worth doing with your four-legged friend.
There’s ample space for running around, and you can finish up with a pint in the Lord Napier and Star in Hackney Wick after – what’s better than that hey?
Nearest stations: Limehouse, Hackney Wick or Tottenham Hale.
5. Blackheath to the Trafalgar Tavern
It has to be said that this London dog walk is this author’s favourite – but I’m probably just being biassed as it is my local. Nevertheless, it’s a great spot to run free with a dog, as long as they’re well trained for roads and *ahem* South East London traffic. Otherwise, it’s best to keep them on a lead here. Hop off at either Elverson Road or Blackheath train station, then do a big old loop around Blackheath, enjoying views of Canary Wharf and the city’s skyscrapers as you go.
Then, cut through into the UNESCO-listed Greenwich Park, where there are numerous paths taking you past the Observatory, a deer park and even a small boating lake. End up at the riverside Trafalgar Tavern near the National Maritime Museum, where you can soak up views of the Thames. There are also loads of dog-friendly places near here – winner!
Nearest stations: Elverson Road DLR or Blackheath.
6. The Parkland Walk
Next on our list of the best dog walks in London is the famous Parkland Walk – a five-kilometre-long stretch which takes you from Finsbury Park to Highgate along an old, abandoned railway line. As London’s longest nature reserve, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the resident species of wildlife along the way, and you’ll pass abandoned railway platforms, graffitied walls and even a sculpture of a Cornish sprite towards the Crouch End part of the trail. Perfect for dogs, you can extend the route by adding a loop of Finsbury Park or by heading up to Ally Pally’s panoramic beer garden.
Nearest stations: Finsbury Park or Highgate.
7. Hampton Court to Kew Bridge
Another relatively long one here, this time taking you along the mighty River Thames towpath from Hampton Court to Kew. You’ll start off by passing Hampton Court Palace – the former home of King Henry VIII and the current home of gardens, gigs and (supposedly) ghosts and ghouls. Continue along the river through Kingston and past Eel Pie Island – where the Rolling Stones once played a gig – then you’ll find yourself at Twickenham.
Take a look on the opposite banks of the river here and you’ll see Ham House – a 17th-century house which is now owned by the National Trust. Journey onwards through Richmond and you’ll end up at Kew – home of the Royal Botanic Gardens. You can buy a ticket for that here..
Nearest station: Hampton Court.
8. Oxleas Wood and Sevendroog Castle
The penultimate addition to this list of the best dog walks in London is one that takes you through Oxleas Wood and to the only ‘dog-friendly’ castle in the whole city. You’re best starting at Sevendroog Castle itself – a small, Gothic spot that has a dog-friendly tea room on the ground floor, with treats and even dog ice creams for sale! Once you’ve got your fill of cakes and coffee for fuel, head through the nearby Jack Wood until you make your way onto the Green Chain Walk.
This will take you to Oxleas Wood and its accompanying meadows – one of the few remaining areas of ancient deciduous forest in London. Some of the trees found here are over 8,000 years old, and they date all the way back to the last ice age. Yikes!
Nearest stations: Eltham or Falconwood.
9. The Chess Valley Walk
Ok so this technically isn’t a dog walk in London, but you can reach it via the Met Line, so it does kind of count. And what a spot for pooches this is, situated inside the picturesque Chilterns AONB. Ten miles long, it will take you along the serene River Chess from Rickmansworth to Chesham, offering some beautiful countryside views along the way. The river here is shallow and meandering, so perfect for your pooch if the sun is shining and they fancy a cool off paddle!
Nearest station: Rickmansworth.
Dog-friendly parks in London
10. Victoria Park
Kicking off this section of the best dog-friendly parks in London we have Victoria Park – or ‘Vicky Park’ as it’s affectionately known – a spacious spot which is considered one of East London’s biggest draws. It’s the city’s oldest park and has two sides which span Grove Road – the eastern half is more suitable for doggos, as there’s ample space for them to run free and for throwing balls, frisbees or (insert here). Post pup-walk, head to the Pavilion Cafe for a brew and a pastry – they’re pretty darn good.
Nearest stations: Hackney Wick or Cambridge Heath.
11. Peckham Rye Park
As the name suggests, this triangle-shaped slice of greenery resides in Peckham, and a wander around here is arguably one of the best things to do when you’re in this part of town. There are 113 acres of open grassland, woods, a lake, and gardens here for you to enjoy, and it stretches all the way to leafy East Dulwich. The arboretum unfortunately is a doggo-free zone, but the lovely Japanese garden and the wildlife community garden aren’t, and there are plenty of other trails to take here too. Southwark council even provides a handy trail map for you to explore if you head to their website.
Nearest station: Peckham Rye.
12. Richmond Park
Now when it comes to dog-friendly parks, you can’t really beat Richmond. Originally designed as a deer park by King Charles I – keep this in mind when you’re walking your pupper – it’s full to the brim with open grasslands and woodland trails which have all-year-round appeal. At 2,500 acres, it’s bloody huge, and holds the title of being the second biggest park in London. Don’t miss a chance to wander through the bloomin’ lovely Isabella Plantation, where you’ll find riotously vivid flower gardens, burbling streams, hidden paths and picnic-friendly lawns.
Nearest station: Richmond.
13. Crystal Palace Park
Another South East London gem, Crystal Palace Park is considered a real life ‘Jurassic Park’ due to the collection of 30 dinosaur sculptures found hidden among the foliage here. Ok so they’re not the most realistic of sculptures – they were after all made over 160 years ago – but seeking them out sure makes a dog walk fun. On top of this, the dog walking park also plays host to one of the country’s largest mazes as well as a boating lake and even a city farm.
Nearest station: Crystal Palace.
14. Morden Hall Park
Owned by the National Trust, this next addition to our roundup of the best dog-friendly parks in London is a real showstopper. Tucked away near the southern end of the Northern Line, this 125-acre piece of parkland is absolutely perfect for you and your pup to explore. They’re welcome in all areas of the estate – though some areas you’ll need to keep them on the lead – and there’s everything here from wildlife-watching boardwalks, preserved watermills, open grassland and even a dog-friendly cafe.
Nearest station: Morden.
15. Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill
Yep, you read that right – both of these iconic spots are dog-friendly parks. And combined, they make for one hell of a London dog walk. Start with a runaround in the wide grassy expanse of Regent’s Park – perfect for your doggo to let off some steam – then make your way up to Primrose Hill, which offers the most scenic view in London. Both parks allow dogs off lead – as long as they are well behaved of course – and you can easily reach the Regent’s Canal or the bars, pubs and restaurants of Camden Town from both.
Nearest stations: Camden Town, Great Portland Street and St. John’s Wood.
16. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park
Arguably the most famous park in London, Hyde Park is a vast space with a network of trails and footpaths criss-crossing it. Considered the epicentre of the capital, it’s adjoined by Kensington Gardens – once the private gardens of Kensington Palace which are now open to the public and are characterised by manicured flower beds and tree-lined boulevards. It’s perfect for doggos – just make sure that they’re on the lead around the Serpentine so they’re not tempted to take a dip! It’s illegal after all…
Nearest stations: Queensway, Bayswater or Knightsbridge.
17. Wimbledon Common
The penultimate entry on this roundup of the best dog-friendly parks in London is technically not a ‘park’ per se – it’s a bloody huge common – but hey who’s judging? Situated just to the south of Richmond Park, it’s a vast space that comprises a mixture of woodland, scrubland, heathland and grassed recreation areas. There’s ample space here for dogs to run off the lead – chasing squirrels no doubt – and it leads onto the expansive Putney Heath to the north too. There’s even a bloody windmill here!
Nearest station: Wimbledon.
18. Hampstead Heath
Ah yes. You didn’t think we could compile a list of the best dog-friendly parks in London without mentioning this one did you? Hampstead Heath – again not technically a ‘park’ – is a wonderfully-wild place incorporating almost 800 acres of undulating meadows, ancient woodland, stately homes and natural swimming ponds – an absolute playground for a pupper. It’s packed full of history, there are some of London Town’s best pubs nearby and there’s one of the city’s best views from atop Parliament Hill. What’s not to love ey?
Nearest stations: Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak.
So there you have it, a roundup of the best dog walks in London for your and your four-legged friend. So grab your pooch, a lead, a ball and a pooper scooper and get yourself walking!