National Trust’s Claremont Landscape Garden, in Esher, Surrey, reopened its gates to dogs for the season on 1st October, and will dogs will be welcome until 30th March. One among the historic gardens near London (find our full guide here), it offers unusual views and has a picturesque woodland you can enjoy with your dog even on a gloomy day. In this post you will find what to see and expect from a visit with your four-legged.
The best things to see with your dog at Claremont Landscape Garden
While most of dog-friendly National Trust properties welcome dogs all-year-round, Claremost Landscape Garden applies a seasonal restriction to canine due to being a site for bird nesting. The staff also told us that in Summer the garden becomes very crowded with children and people sunbathing, which makes it difficult to accomodate dogs.
We visited the garden just after its Autumn reopening and found a dog bowl and treats at the entrance. We discovered that they even organise regular dog walks at the property (more below and in the Dog Events Calendar). Dogs are required to stay on leads at all times, but are welcome in the cafe (both outside and inside).
The grounds were bought and started being developed by architect Sir John Vanbrugh in the 1700s. After a few changes of hand, between 1816-1922, Claremont became a much loved home to British and foreign royalty, when Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold further developed the garden. In 1922 the estate was sold for development, only leaving the house and 120 acres or land, before the surviving 49 acres of the estate finally became a National Trust property in 1949.
But what to expect from a visit at Claremont Landscape Garden? There are a few follies and things to see when visiting.
1. The lake
One of the things you find after passing the entrance is a lake, home to numerous bird species. There is a path running all around the lake and over the (disappointing) grotto, and some wooden benches and chairs, while the little island in the middle is not accessible.
2. The Amphitheatre
Right next to the lake there is what is called “the amphitheatre”. This feature, which is grade 1 listed, was designed by Charles Bridgeman for the Duke of Newcastle in 1716, taking on 3 acres and carved from a hill with concave and convex terraces. It is believed that theatre may have inspired the amphitheatre, but it was likely intended to be used as a viewpoint, as today.
Currently, the area is fenced off due to signs of considerable wear and tear, so you can only see it from below, or take the path on the left-hand side you can reach the top of the hill and enjoy the view from above. A herd of geese were having a gathering when we visited.
Nearby there is a nine pin alley and a bowling green as well.
3. The woodland and its sculptures
Continuing the walk uphill, you will find yourself walking on paths in a dark woodland, full of bushes and large treees with dense foliage. The day we visited it rained and this part of the walk offered great dramatic views.
Is different spots you will find animal statues decorating the paths: try and find the wild boar, the bear and the peacock!
4. The Camellia Terrace
On top of the hill, the trees leave room to a terrace with a curated garden, and more open spaces. The Camelia Terrace features historic railings (just restored) and you can enjoy the colours of blooming camellias from January to April, so in time for a walk with your dog by the end of March, when the seasonal dog ban kicks in again. This was once the site of Prince Leopold’s large heated greenhouse.
5. The Belvedere Tower
The Belvedere Tower stands out on top of the hill. It is not property of the National Trust, so it is normally closed to the public, apart from selected dates, for a couple of hours each time. Dogs unfortunately are not allowed inside the Tower during its brief openings, so your only chance is visiting with someone else and taking turns inside, while the other minds the dog outside. Dates are available here.
The Ha-ha (a hidden wall in a ditch) was designed b 18th century landscapers to stop livestock getting into the pleasure grounds avoiding the use of fences.
The Grotto and other follies
As for the Grotto, this was quite disappointing after having visited Painshill: unlike Painshill’s Crystal Grotto (which I understand is one of a kind – though you can’t take dogs inside it), Claremont Landscape Garden’s grotto is a modest artifact and cannot be visited (you just walk on the top of it via the path running around the lake).
There is the Thatched House in the woodland. This can’t be accessed by dogs.
The dog-friendly café
After the walk, you can have a rest at Claremont Garden’s dog-friendly café. Dogs are welcome both outside in the terrace and inside, and you can get a snack, cake or hot food. There is also a small shop in case you are interested.
Conclusions and tips for your visit
Claremont Landscape Garden is much smaller than Painshill landscape garden (just a few miles south) – of which we talked about in this post, and can’t compete with it in terms of follies. However, Claremont Lanscape Garden has some lovely woods and views that are best to enjoy with the sunshine (we visited on a cloudy day and looking at photos online when the sun is shining it doesn’t render it justice).
Dog-friendly Claremont Landscape Garden | Essentials
Where and when
Address: Claremont Landscape Garden is in Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey KT10 9JG.
Opening times: 10am – 6pm or earlier at dusk. Dogs are only allowed from 1st October to 30th March (if you wish to visit April to September you’ll have to leave your dog at home).
Official website: nationaltrust.org.uk/claremont-landscape-garden
Access is free for National Trust members. For everyone else, tickets are priced: £10 standard adult (£11 gift aid), £5 children (£5.50 gift aid), payable at the ticket office by cash or card. If travelling by public transport, you can claim (from the kiosk) a voucher for a £1 discount in the café.
Dog rules and perks
- Dogs are allowed from 1st October to 30th March only. They must stay on as short lead at all times when on the property, and must be cleaned after. The only bin available is near the entrance. The café is accessible without a ticket and all year-round by dogs.
- Dogs are welcome in the cafe’ and there are dog biscuits and dog water bowls at the entrance.
- There are organised dog walks you can join.
How to get there
- By public transport: Train from London Waterloo to Esher, then bus no. 715 from Littleworth Common (just a couple of minutes walk from Esher station) to Claremont Landscape Garden (West End Lane bus stop). If you come from Kingston, you can hop onto bus no. 715 directly (getting there in about 35 minutes). There is the option of paying by card on the bus (contactless, Apple pay, Google pay).
- By car: Claremont Landscape Garden sat nav is located in Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey KT10 9JG. It is on the A307 you can take from Kingston (it is a 20-minute drive from there), or if you are travelling from Central London, you can take the A3 from Elephant and Castle. There is free parking on site.