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Adventure & Travel Blog Lake District Lovers

Best Dog Friendly Walks in the Lake District

lake district fell and foxgloves

Dog walking in the Lake District has become even more popular since the increase in accommodation that welcomes pets. This guide to dog friendly walks in the Lake District offers a selection of routes among the epic landscapes. Discover walks for seasoned hikers and energetic dogs, plus routes for more leisurely walkers.

1. Derwentwater, Keswick

  • Begin: National Trust shop
  • End: Portinscale Village
  • Length: 10 miles
  • Terrain: mostly flat
  • Difficulty level: easy/moderate
  • Suitable for young children: yes
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

If you love ambling around the lakes of the Lake District, Derwentwater is a great place to come. Perhaps the most famous circuit for those in the know is the Derwentwater dog-friendly walking route in Keswick. The unchallenging terrain is perfect for walkers of various abilities and their dogs. Following the OL4 Ordnance Survey Map, walkers enjoy both the shoreline and woodlands, these are areas known for their wildlife. There are also cafes dotted along the route which provide great opportunities for pit-stops or you can enjoy your own picnic.

If you prefer, shorten the walk by hopping on board a lake cruise at one of the jetties along the way. And the great news is that well-behaved dogs are welcome on board and travel for free! If you fancy a brew or a snack during your walk, head for Café West on Station Road. As well as allowing dogs, the owners of the cafe positively encourage them! Following your walk, tuck into homemade cakes, sandwiches and drinks while appreciating the fantastic views of the park and Lakes landscapes.

Highlights:

  • The National Trust’s Centenary Stone
  • “Entrust” – an oak sculpture
  • Lodore Falls
  • The “Chinese Bridge” over the River Derwent
Derwentwater dog friendly walk

2. Dodd Wood and Fell

  • Begin: Dodd Wood car park
  • End: Dodd Wood car park
  • Length: 5 miles
  • Terrain: flat with very steep sections
  • Difficulty level: moderate
  • Suitable for young children: no
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

This relatively short walk provides ample opportunity to admire the mountains and waters of the Lakes. Traverse through Dodd Wood and keep an eye out for red squirrels in this beautiful wildlife spot. Although steep at times, this walk is actually one of the highest Lake District fells with pushchair access. However, it is advised that younger children do not attempt this walk because of the inclines. Enjoy the vantage points providing opportunities to see the Bassenthwaite Ospreys along the way. You will begin your walk via a wooden bridge into the woods which is clearly signposted. From here, follow the green arrows throughout the beautiful woodland trail. When you’re ready for a break, The Old Saw Mill Café at the foot of Dodd Fell is the place to go.

Highlights:

  • At the summit – stone trig point with memorial plaque. Enjoy views of Cumbria from this incredible peak.
  • Possible sightings of the Bassenthwaite Ospreys

3. Rydal Water

  • Begin: White Moss car park
  • End: White Moss car park
  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Terrain: flat with some slopes
  • Difficulty level: easy
  • Suitable for young children: yes
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

Located between Grasmere and Ambleside, the Rydal Water circular walk is a real treat. Many dog walkers choose this route as it provides an easy amble among exceptional scenery. Rydal is renowned as one of the Lake District’s most beautiful areas with woodland trails, fells and waterfalls. The walk begins at the car park where you’ll find a footpath leading through woodland. From here, walk along the banks of the River Rothay before reaching east Grasmere. The walk continues towards Rydal Hall and involves some uphill walking. Dog walkers are welcome to explore the gardens of Rydal Hall and to stop for refreshments at the hall’s café. The latter part of the walk involves following the “coffin route” below Nab Scar fell before the final stretch of your scenic journey back to White Moss.

Highlights:

  • The Grot – 18th century summer house at Rydall Hall created as a waterfall viewing point
  • Rydal Mount – the home of William Wordsworth from 1813 until his death in 1850
  • “Wordsworth Seat” reputed to be the writer’s favourite viewing spot
Rydal water

4. Loweswater Circuit Walk

  • Begin: car park east of the lake
  • End: Kirkstile Inn
  • Length: 3.5 miles
  • Terrain: flat with some slopes
  • Difficulty level: moderate
  • Suitable for young children: yes
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

Older dogs and less experienced walkers will enjoy this dog friendly walk at the Lake District’s prettiest and smallest lakes. Follow the pretty woodland trails and enjoy lakeside views on this moderately strenuous trail. As an often dismissed walk, it provides a tranquil setting through flower-strewn woodland. Walk through Holme Wood for some red squirrel spotting among oak and sycamore trees. This trail involves some uphill terrain and is therefore suitable for those of moderate fitness. Finish the walk at the renowned Kirkstile Inn where dogs are welcome in the bar until 6pm.

Highlights:

  • Red squirrels
  • Springtime bluebells

5. Stickle Tarn

  • Begin: Stickle Ghyll car park
  • End: Stickle Ghyll car park
  • Length: 1.9 miles
  • Terrain: large sections of rock, water and slopes
  • Difficulty level: difficult
  • Suitable for young children: no
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

If you and your dog are up for a challenge, then this is the trail for you. Traverse rock-strewn waterways, climb steep slopes and hike over rugged hillocks. Leaving the car park via the wooden gate you’ll find yourself following a well-defined stone path. Continuing onwards and upwards you’ll pass through breathtaking scenery before reaching a wooden footbridge. This is the site of the National Trust’s hydro-electric scheme.

The next section of the walk is increasingly challenging with scrambles over brief rocky climbs before crossing back over the stream. The final stretch brings you to the stunning Stickle Tarn lying below Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle. Here you can relax a while at the lake to absorb exceptional views. Reward yourself and your dog with a rest at the National Trust’s Stickle Tarn pub. Benefit from water bowls, doggy treats and a much-needed towel to dry them (and you) off.

Highlights:

  • Stonewall remains of a 15th century fulling Mill
  • Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle – summits that once formed part of a volcanic rim

6. Mickleden Valley Trail

  • Begin: Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel National Trust car park
  • End: Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel National Trust car park
  • Length: 3.8 miles
  • Terrain: flat
  • Difficulty level: easy
  • Suitable for young children: yes
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

Being one of the best dog friendly walks in the Lake District, this trail lets you spend quality time with your furry companion among the sublime wilderness. If peace and quiet is a must, there’s a chance you’ll enjoy being the only dog walker on this route. Passing through the tranquil valley of Mickleden you’ll follow a well-defined trail past juniper trees and craggy hillsides. The largely uninhabited region features crags popular with climbers as wells as nesting areas for Peregrine falcons. Further on, the landscape changes slightly with the appearance of glacial moraines near the head of the valley. Then once you reach the wooden bridge close to the walled sheep pen, turn back the way you came. Finish at the Old Dungeon Ghyll and step inside for a pint of real ale and delicious pub grub.

Highlights:

  • Keep an eye out for Peregrine falcons and the migrating Wheatear
  • See if you can spot rock climbers scaling the rockfaces in their colourful clothing.

7. Ridding Wood Trail at Grizedale Forest

  • Begin: Grizedale Yan Building car park
  • End: Grizedale Yan Building car park
  • Length: 1 mile
  • Terrain: flat
  • Difficulty level: easy
  • Suitable for young children: yes
  • Dog-friendly refreshment stops available: yes
  • View OS map

Dog friendly walks in Grizedale Forest are fun for the entire family. There are assorted walks in the forest, and the Ridding Wood trail has plenty to offer. Follow the tarmac path and blue signs along a mile-long trail through woodland and past sculptures. Because this family-friendly walk is accessible, it’s perfect for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Also, there are several clearly signposted walks, so you are free to embark on as many as you like. The forest boasts a children’s playground and plenty of wildlife, which include deer and squirrels. Because this shorter walk can be busy, it’s advisable to keep your dog on a lead if they tend to be excitable. After your walk, you can settle down with the family in a picnic area or enjoy refreshments in the outdoor area of the visitor centre café.

Highlights:

  • Themed walks throughout the year
  • Magical wind-up trees

If you’re new to walking but don’t want to overdo it, why don’t you take a look at some of the easier walking routes in the Lake District?

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  • David Wilkinson
    May 2, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    Made me excited, for lockdown to end ! I can’t wait to try some of the walks with my dog. The photographs are stunning and show the Lakes in all their glory. The wellbeing help for lockdown is particularly helpful to those of us that feel frustrated at the inability to leave the house.

    • Sue Talbot
      May 4, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Thank you for your positive comments. It’s great that you’ve enjoyed reading the blog and it has inspired you to try some of the walks with your dog.