Fresh air, plenty of exercise, and the opportunity to explore new places; bringing a four-legged friend on your hiking excursion is the best way to experience the great outdoors.
Google searches around hiking are presently at breakout levels, with inquiries regarding the best routes, equipment and walking wear steadily rising during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, almost a quarter of the British public are now ramblers, up from 16% in 2018.
Summer is a beautiful time to enjoy some scenic dog-walking, and there’s plenty of amazing trails right on your doorstep. To lend a helping hand, the team at tails.com have shared their ultimate guide to hiking spots in the UK that are perfect for you and your pooch.
Scafell Pike – Experienced Hiker
Featuring rolling hills, enchanting forests and picturesque lakes, Scafell Pike in The Lake District is a must-visit for our four-legged friends. At 978 meters, this hiking destination is England’s highest mountain and war memorial and is protected by the National Trust.
This trail, however, isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s recommended that canine companions braving the journey have experience hiking in the fells and are well-behaved. Livestock is often grazing around the Scafell Pike, so for safety, dogs should be kept on leads.
There are multiple routes to take at Scafell Pike, but the most commonly trekked is from Wasdale Head near Wast Water, England’s deepest lake. This route is the steepest, but the shortest journey, at just 3 miles each way.
If your four-legged friend is joining the trek, make sure to stop every hour for a 15-minute break, keep them hydrated with fresh water, and check for signs of dehydration and exhaustion. It’s recommended that a map and compass is used for navigational purposes.
Location: The Lake District, England
Time needed: 3-4 hours
Distance: 6.2 miles
Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door Hike – Novice Hiker
Let your happy hound experience the wind in their fur on a breath-taking hike along the beautiful coast, from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door. This hike captures all the best elements of the Jurassic coastline, with towering limestone cliffs, natural arches and spectacular views.
The hike from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door is a 2.5 miles round trip, taking approximately 1 hour to complete. It may be short, but it packs a punch with a steep incline you need to hike up at the beginning of your journey. You can admire Dorest’s most photographed landmark, the Durdle Door, and its crisp blue waters, golden sandy beach and greenery.
There are a wealth of pubs, cafes and restaurants in Dorset which offer a warm welcome to pets and their humans after a bracing hike over the coastline. Alternatively, head down to the Durdle Door beach, where you can soak up some sun and take a dip in the sea… your four-legged friend can join in too, as the beach is dog-friendly.
Location: Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Time needed: 1 hour
Distance: 2.5 miles
The Old Man of Coniston – Experienced Hiker
If you and your pooch fancy a challenge, then the mountainous landscapes of The Old Man of Coniston awaits, with a host of dog-friendly walking trails. At 2,633 feet high, this is one of the higher fells in the Lake District, with several possible routes to the summit.
Depending on your fitness level, it should take approximately 3 to 4 hours. But with your four-legged friend in tow we recommend packing a picnic, water and some resting gear, so you can stop off each hour for a 15-minute break.
The Old Man Of Coniston is one of the most popular destinations for fell-walking in the Lake District, so it’s best to head out in the early morning before the crowds of hikers appear. With a high gradient, this trek isn’t for a novice hiker.
If your dog starts to show signs of exhaustion, rest and return to the car park.
Location: The Lake District, England
Time needed: 3-4 hours
Distance: 7.7 miles
The Old Man of Storr – Novice Hiker
The Old Man Of Storr is a tail-wagging treat of a dog-friendly day out. As one of Scotland’s most notable hikes, dogs and their owners are sure to enjoy leisurely wanders basking in the picture-postcard scenery. You’ll want your camera on hand to snapshots of the incredible sights.
Venture to the top of The Old Man of Storr, to see the beautiful spiky pinnacles of rock set against a backdrop of rolling green hills and the coastline of the Isle of Skye. The wide-open green land provides a perfect spot for your canine companion to stretch their legs, but to avoid exhaustion keep your dog close by and on the trail.
Although summer feels like the perfect time to hit the trails with your pooch, we suggest heading out before the heat does, to prevent dehydration.
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Time needed: 1.5 hours
Distance: 3 miles
Roseberry Topping – Novice Hiker
A haven for dogs and photographers alike, Roseberry Topping takes over 1 mile of woodland and greenery in North Yorkshire. Filled with both history and adventure, Roseberry is the perfect location for energetic pups and their owners.
Whilst it’s not the biggest hill you’ll ever tackle, measured at only 320m, the hill is a great climb for a full host of walking abilities and gives some of the best views of the area. When you reach the summit you are rewarded with one of the most recognisable viewpoints on the northern moors, providing a spectacular 360° panorama of the surrounding landscape.
Location: North Yorkshire Moors National Park
Time Needed: 30 minutes
Distance: 1 mile
Tails & Trails: Tips for hiking with your dog
While hiking with your furry companion can be a fun-filled day of adventure and a good source of exercise, there are certain things you can do and things you should avoid to make sure the day doesn’t go awry. Head Vet, Sean McCormack at tails.com has teamed up with Senior Ranger, Margaret Anderson from Northumberland National Park to share their tips on walking your dog safely in the countryside.
But before you go on a strenuous hike Head Vet, Sean McCormack stresses ‘both you and your dog need to build up your endurance levels for regular hiking activities – so start slow, gradually increasing the length and difficulty of your routes.’
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RuffGuide: Expert tips to stay safe when hiking with your pooch
When it comes to taking your dog on a hike, we need to be responsible dog owners and think about other countryside users, wildlife and farm animals. Here are some top tips to keep safe during summer walks and hikes.
Keep on the lead
Your dog is required to be on a lead at all times in the countryside between March and July to protect vulnerable ground-nesting birds and other wildlife.
At other times of the year, dogs should either be on a lead or under your control nearby; this is a great reason to get working on your dog’s obedience training, especially recall, to allow them the freedom to exercise off lead responsibly and come back when there is a potential hazard.
A short lead is advisable around livestock on farmland, as even the most well-behaved dogs can worry livestock if free-roaming; sheep and lambs, in particular, are prone to stress from dogs.
Stay vaccinated – Check with your local veterinarian
Sean explains ‘Make sure your dog’s vaccinations and worming are up to date to prevent the risk of disease or transmission to wildlife and farm animals.’
He goes on to say ‘Ticks are a big issue in the UK with Lyme disease on the rise so the sooner a tick can be removed, the less likely it is that you or your dog can get infected by nasty bacteria.’
‘To remove a tick effectively, it’s recommended to buy a tick removal tool, which allows you to twist and lift the tick off of the skin by going underneath its biting mouthparts.
‘It’s important to make sure you remove the tick properly and get the head out, as just pulling at the tick can often leave the mouthparts still embedded and lead to a risk of infection from nasty bacteria. However, if you aren’t confident in removing a tick on your own, call your local vet for help.’
Clean up after your pooch!
Always clean up after your dog and dispose of waste responsibly to avoid spoiling natural areas or leaving behind an infection risk to other people and animals.
Margaret says ‘Always bag and bin your dog poo – flicking it into the undergrowth or hanging it in a tree just moves the problem to a different place. Bag it and bin it, any bin is fine.’
‘Whilst the countryside is rich in different kinds of poo, dog waste is different. Worms and diseases from dog waste can infect people, farm animals and wildlife, and even pollute local water supplies.’
Stick to pathways
When going on a rural hike, it can be very easy to get lost – especially when you have no internet connection to help direct you.
To avoid getting lost keep to pathways, be road safe with your dog and close any gates behind you. In case of emergencies, always pack a compass and a map of the area you are exploring.
Keep a close eye on the ground
Did you know that we have adders here in the UK? Adders are the only venomous snake and they can be spotted in woodland glades, heathlands and moorlands.
Adders tend to stick to overgrowth so sticking to pathways can help prevent you from coming across an adder. They are secretive animals and most attacks happen when they are trodden on or picked up.
Although an adder bite is a very rare occurrence, it can be painful but is almost never fatal. However, an adder bite can be very painful and cause a nasty inflammation but is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. If bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately.
What to take hiking with your dog
In terms of supplies you might need for an enjoyable hiking experience, here’s our list of items you should bring:
- Collapsible food and water bowls.
- An adequate supply of food; your dog may need extra calories in larger meals for long hikes. Be sure to allow at least an hour, preferably two, for your dog to rest and digest each meal after eating.
- Clean water. Your dog may pick up infections and certain parasites if drinking from contaminated or soiled outdoor water sources so offer a clean supply regularly.
- Basic first aid kit; your local vet clinic or dog training clubs may host local first aid courses. Antiseptic for small grazes or cuts, a tick remover tool and basic bandaging materials are excellent items to include.
- Dog backpacks are available online and allow your dog to carry their own supplies; take care to get them used to this and build up the level gradually without overloading them.
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