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The best London dog walks for exploring the capital with your dog

By June 28, 2020No Comments

Dog walks in the big London parks and green spaces are great, but if you are looking for a change and you fancy exploring new parts of the capital with your dog, there are many walking routes in London that will widen your dog walking horizons and be amazed by the discoveries you can make. In this guide you’ll find the best routes for London dog walks and hikes in North, East, West and South London, plus pubs, cafes and dog-friendly activities to enjoy along the way. River- or canal-side or through green spaces (from gardens to parks to proper woodlands), touching on city landmarks and less known historical gems, there is truly something for everyone!

LONDON DOG WALKS & HIKING ROUTES

In this guide, you will find inspiration for your London dog walks and hikes (with zooms in on specific sections of the walks coming later on the blog).

  1. The Green Chain Walk (South East London – one of the greenest)
  2. Capital Ring (East, South, West and North London – enjoying the green)
  3. Thames Path (following the river West to East – the most famous and popular path)
  4. Jubilee Greenway (circular route East to West – a landmarks-rich route)
  5. Jubilee Walk (Central London – a circular walk for the most sightseeing)
  6. The Line (East and South East London – waterways and art)
  7. Regent’s Canal Walk (Paddington to Limehouse)
  8. London Loop (outer circular walk, on the border of Greater London)
  9. Footpaths along quiet ways and other cycle routes (get from one point to another avoiding busy roads)
  10. Chess Valley Walk (technically in Hertfordshire, but on the Metropolitan line, a countryside walk on the river Chess)
  11. Woodlands in London (across London, proper woodlands for dog walks in the green)

How to travel if you don’t have your own car

The Green Chain Walk

South East London – Thamesmead to Nunhead Cemetery

Green Chain Walk map

Credits: Tfl – Green Chain Walk map

  • Perfect if: you are looking for walks among nature with plenty of green spaces to give your dog a good run and fun
  • Your local if: you live in the boroughs of: Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley

The Green Chain Walk runs from Thamesmead to Nunhead Cemetery, following two separate routes for 50 miles. The routes are split into sections so you can discover them bit by bit. A few woods (such as Oxleas Woods), fields and some ladmarks (such as the Thames Barriers, 18th century Gothic folly of Severndroog Castle and the Art Deco Eltham Palace and Crystal Palace dinosaurs) can be found on the way.

Each of the 11 sections of the Green Chain Walk can be easily navigated making use of the TfL handy maps (click on the section you are interested in to view) that give clear directions, tell some curiosities about the places you see along the way and help you finding the closest public transport stations/stops.

Dog near signpost of Green Chain Walk in London

Our top picks in the Green Chain Walk

We haven’t walked the whole Green Chain Walk, but for the parts we have seen, we recommend:

Beckenham Place Park to Crystal Palace

(3.9 miles – 6.3 km) passing through Cator Park and Sydenham

  • Highlights: A very green route, taking you through many parks and green spaces. Cator Park was a discovery – it has an enclosed area too (which is perfect for a good off-leash run if your dog needs a fenced-off space). Beckenham Place Park is stunning, with its lovely views, hills, woods and meadows, and its historic house, of course. More about this section of the Green Chain Walk coming soon on the blog.
  • Tips – facilities: The walk is through residential areas and parks and we didn’t see any shops along the way, so make sure to bring water/food with you.
  • Map: Map of Beckenham Place Park to Crystal Palace section with directions.
Dog walk at Beckenham Place Park

Beckenham Place Park

Crystal Palace to Nunhead Cemetery

(5.4 miles – 8.7 km) passing through Sydenham Hill Wood, Horniman Gardens, Honor Oak, Camberwell old and new cemeteries, and Nunhead Cemetery.

  • Highlights: With some ups and downs, one to learn about London geography and take in the views of this lovely part of London. See the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace and enjoy a dog walk in Nunhead Cemetery
  • Cafes and pubs: stop by at the dog-friendly cafe Brown & Green at The Station at Crystal Palace station and finish with a meal or a pint at dog-friendly The Ivy House, a community-owned pub in a historic building near Nunhead Cemetery.
  • Map: Map of Crystal Palace to Nunhead Cemetery section with directions here.
Oxleas Meadows

Oxleas Meadows

Bostall Woods to Oxleas Meadows

(2.9 miles – 4.7 km, but you may want to explore more the woods)

The Jubilee Greenway

Circular walk East to West, touching many London landmarks – including Olympic stadium, Buckingham Palace, Camden Market, the Thames Barrier.

Jubilee Greenway Walk map

Credits: TfL

  • Perfect if: you want to see the main landmarks or learn about the mysterious areas in between tube stations, walk on the river
  • Your local if: you live in the boroughs of: Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington, Camden, Westminster

The route uses parks, canals, roads and waterways to link the various East London venues of the 2012 Olympic Games with many London landmarks across the capital.

This 60km long circular greenway goes from Little Venice to Camden, Victoria Park, Tower Bridge, Greenwich and more. The Jubilee Greenway was open to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and mark the London 2012 Olympic Games. Some stretches of this route may be too crowded at this time, so you may want to choose the less frequented sections for the time being. Maps and info on all Jubilee Greenway’s sections.

Our top picks on the Jubilee Greenway for a dog walk

Our favourite sections of the Jubilee Greenway must be two among the least busy ones.

Dog admires view on Canary Wharf from Jubilee Greenway/Thames Path1. Greenwich to Tower Bridge

(5.6 miles – 9.5km)

Highlights: this less beaten section is probably our favourite for how the view changes from historic buildings (Tower of London and dog-friendly Tower Bridge, the dog-friendly Brunel Museum, as well as the – not dog-friendly Cutty Sark) to the modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf on the other bank. This stretch is in common with the Thames Path. Much more quiet than the Thames Path on the north bank, a real gem. There are many highlights on this route.

Tips: if you have time, you can stop visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition with your dog and walk on its glass floor. For another cultural stop, take a tour of the dog-friendly Brunel Museum. Surrey Docks Farm, our favourite dog-friendly farm in London, is also on the way. Russia Dock Woodlands, with Stave Hill, is just off the path in case you fancy a little diversion (more coming soon on the blog about it). In Greenwich you can walk the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and find yourself in Isle of Dogs – perfect if you want to continue your Walk on the Thames Path on the other bank – or visit the Market.

Pubs and cafes: in Shad Thames you can find a bunch of dog-friendly cafes for brunch. In Rotherhithe, dog-friendly historic The Mayflower pub, next to the Brunel Museum is a must visit – go for the Sunday roast. If you are walking the walk on Friday or Saturday evening, you can also stop at the Midnight Apothecary Botanical Cocktail Garden for a cocktail and campfire roast marshmellows on the roof of the Brunel (seasonal opening and to be booked in advance). In Greenwich, stop at the Greenwich Tavern, paces from Greenwich Park.

In case you need it, you will also find a couple of supermarkets on the way (at least a Waitrose in Greenwich and a Co-op in Rotherhithe).

Map: map of the section between Greenwich and Tower Bridge, with directions.

dog near Thames at Jubilee Greenway

Dog walk from Victoria Park to Limehouse Basin - dog with horse sculpture

On the Jubilee Greenway near Victoria Park

2. Victoria Park and Limehouse Basin

(2.6 miles – 4.2 km)

Highlights: possibly the section we have walked the most times in London, it is to be loved for the tranquil views on the canal. You will see lots of house boats, beautiful colours especially on those sunny Autumn days when the trees leaves turn colour, you will see birds and probably meet lots of joggers and cyclists, plus a few house-boat dogs!

Tips: Victoria Park is a dog owner’s popular destination and you will surely find many doggie friends. Along the way, stop in Mile End Park and have a go at the dog agility equipment. If your dog needs an enclosed dog park to go off-leash, there are a few not too far, the largest one being that in St Dunstan Churchyard (check out the map here and/or this guide). At Limehouse Basin you can find Moo Canoes offering dog-friendly kayaks for hire, in case you want to see the route from a different perspective.

Pubs and cafes: dog-friendly People’s Park Tavern in Victoria Park or The Grapes pub just opposite Ropemakers Field just on the way. Not far from Limehouse Basin you can also head to the lovely Yurt Cafe for brunch or a coffee.

Map: Victoria Park and Limehouse Basin

The Jubilee Walkway

Central London for sightseeing

Phodography founders Ursula and Hugo the dog

Perfect if:

  • you are visiting London (in normal times) and want to make the most out of your time in the capital
  • you are looking to rediscover Central London and snap the perfect photo of your dog near London landmarks

The Jubilee Walkway is in fact a bundle of 5 loops that allow you to do the traditional London sightseeing:

  1. The Western Loop (4.6 miles – 9.6 km) touching Trafalgar Square, the Parliament, the Southbank up to the Tate Modern, St Paul’s, the Royal Court of Justice and Covent Garden.
  2. The Eastern Loop (3.4 miles – 5.5 km) running on the South bank of the river covering the ground between the Tate Modern and Tower Bridge and then North Monument, Bank and St Paul’s before the Millennium Bridge back to the Tate Modern.
  3. The City Loop (3km) is a shorter route in the heart of the City, that allows you to see Bank, the Barbican, the London Wall and St Paul’s.
  4. The Camden Loop (3.9 miles – 6.3 km) is a walk through Holborn and Bloomsbury
  5. The Jubilee Walk

The Line – for art lovers

East and South East London following art and waterways

Map of The Line walking route in London

Credits: The Line

Perfect if:

  • your local if you live in the boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Greenwich
  • you love art
  • you like to walk near waterways

The Line route runs between the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, following the waterways and the line of the Greenwich Meridian. It is “London’s first dedicated public art walk and its outdoor exhibition programme illuminates an inspiring landscape where everyone can explore art, nature and heritage for free”, as its creators put it. Born by the minds of experts whose mission was to put art and culture at the centre of urban regeneration projects, it started as a crowdfunding project in 2014, earning supporters and patrons along the way.

The Line features pieces on loan from museums and galleries, as well as fewer permanent pieces, so on your walk you can periodically find new interesting art. From Damien Hirst to The list of current, upcoming and past artists can be a handy guide for your visit planning and exploration.

Highlights: Along the way, apart from the art pieces, you will see the Olympic Park where you can have a diversion taking the dog-friendly Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Boat Tours along the river Lee. Further south, Trinity Buoy Wharf has much dog-friendly to offer (all about it in this post). In Royal Docks there is a chance to paddle board with your dog, or simply crossing the river by Emirates cable car with your pooch.

Cafes and eateries: The Map of The Line provides you with tips about cafes along the way, as well as heritage information and animals you can spot in the area. At the time of writing many venues are closed and we have not checked which of them are dog-friendly. Our favourite dog-friendly ones must be those in Hackney Wick, in particular the Barge East, CRATE Brewery and Stour Space – which also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Map of The Line

Official website

The Thames Path

Following the river Thames West to East

Thames Path map

Credits: Thames Path map by TfL

One that every Londoner is familiar with is the Thames Path, stretching from the river Thames’ spring to the Thames Barrier, for 184 miles (294 Km). The part of the trail that is of interest if  you are in London, is the one between Hampton Court and the Thames Barrier (79.5 miles – 128 km), which, in many parts, runs on both the North bank and the South bank.

While chances are that you will have walked at least a few sections of it many times, few will have walked it all. A great excuse to explore more of it. The flat ground makes it an easy one for anyone. Find your next Thames Path walk on routes and maps linked in this page, which include relevant directions and public transport information.

Dog looks at river from Thames Path

Thames Path in Barnes

Tips: in some sections good to watch the tides as some parts become flooded, like where the path crosses River Lane in Richmond. If you want to walk a section of the Thames Path that is not close to you, you can take one of the river bus or ferry services on the Thames that allow dogs.

Pubs: There are many amazing pubs along the Thames Path. A few dog-friendly favourites:

Capital Ring walk

A circular walk

Capital Ring map

Credits: Capital Ring map by TfL

The Capital Ring Walk is a 78 miles – 126km circular walk that crosses South, East, North and West London, divided in 15 sections. Some parts of it overlap other routes, such as the Green Chain Walk. Among the views you will encounter on the route there are dog-friendly Abney Cemetery Park, Walthamstow Marshes, the Thames Barriers, Beckenham Place Park and Syon Park.

The Crystal Palace to Beckenham Place Park section overlaps the same Green Chain Walk – more information about this above int this post.

Find all sections of the Capital Ring Walk with directions, maps and information about public transport.

Signpost on Green Chain Walk and Capital Ring in London

Regent’s Canal Walk

Paddington’s Little Venice to Limehouse Basin

Dogs on boat on Regent's CanalThe Regent’s Canal, completed in 1820, links Paddington with Limehouse, passing through North London. Towpaths runs along this waterway and allows you to discover many little gems. You won’t get lost, but note that the canal goes underground in Islington/Angel there is no pedestrian towpath in the tunnel, so you will need to find your way on the ground to the other end – from memory there should be signposts showing the way.

Highlights: From Little Venice canals and villas to the London Zoo, Camden Market and hipster East London, through Victoria Park, to arrive at Limehouse Basin. Dog agility equipment in Mile End Park, in case you fancy. A pleasant walk where you can see locks, house boats, parks and more.

Eating: you will find plenty of dog-friendly eateries on route, including Camden Market; The Engineer pub in Camden; The Narrowboat, the Commissary and the Barge House in Hoxton.

Tips: popular with joggers, cyclists and walkers, this towpath can be busy over weekends. If you like more space for your dog, go early or choose a weekday. If you want to see the Regent’s Canal from a different view, you can hire an dog-friendly electric boat with GoBoat London in Paddington.

The Little Venice to Camden stretch is described on this Canal Trust page.

Lee Valley Walk

Following the river Lee from Limehouse/East India Dock to Waltham Abbey

Lee Valley Walk map

Credits: Lee Valley Walk map by Tfl

Lee Valley Walk follows the river Lee from the Thames in East London (Limehouse Basin or East India Docks) to where Great London ends up North, for 15.6 miles – 28.4 km. A quiet route on the waterway, dotted with many green spaces, parks, marshes, locks, reservoirs and more, the route is divided in 6 sections.

Dog on Regent's Canal and Lee Valley WalkHighlights: if you continue up North on the river Lee from Waltham Abbey and reach Cheshunt, you will find Lee Valley Park is amazing and it also has some agility equipment.

Tips: if you are a keen cyclist, why not hiring a dog-friendly cargo bike and riding the whole route in a go.

Map: All sections of Lee Valley Walk, with directions, maps and information about public transport.

The London Loop

The outest loop

London Loop map

Credits: London Loop map by TfL

The outest circular walk, taking up 150 miles -242 km is the London Loop, split in 24 sections. Covering so much ground, a change of scenery is assured and there are plenty of open spaces and historic buildings along the way.

dog at Foot Crays Meadows

Foot Crays Meadows – right after taking this picture we saw a signpost saying that dogs cannot enter the water

We haven’t yet explored it apart from a very little bit of it – Foot Crays Meadows, in Sidcup, on the river Cray. We were attracted by the looks of the bricks bridge on the river Cray after hearing other dog owners speaking about it. It is a bit of a long way if you don’t live in the area and while it was a nice place. Nice meadows and (small) woods, plus views on the river Cray, with the iconic bridge, but probably not our favourite park – although judgement may be probably influenced by the fact that we found oak processionary moths, which can be dangerous for dogs.

We will tell you more when we explore more parts of the London Loop.

Parkland Walk

Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace

A 4.5 mile linear green walkway and nature reserve, the Parkland Walk connects Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace following the course of the railway that used to run between the two places.

Walk the quiet cycle routes of London

London cycle routes map

Credits: Cycle Travel

Apart from the Greenways just mentioned, footpaths often run on the side of cycle Quiet Ways. Being these on less trafficked roads or paths not accessible to vehicles, they are a great way to get around with your dog. Generally not deserving to a special walk, you could you use these ways to reach the start of one of the walks or make your way home on a quiet route after going out.

There are also other cycle routes not marked as Quiet Ways that may come in handy, just note that Cycle Superhighways run on large high-traffic roads so any footpaths along them will not be the best alternative.

The most comprehensive list of cycle ways in London we found is the one on Wikipedia, or if you prefer a map version, this one by Cycle Travel (we don’t recommend the TfL cycle maps as they are surprisingly not comprehensive at the time of writing).

Chess Valley Walk

The Chilterns, Hertfordshire, but reachable on the tube

Dog on bridge on river ChessTechnically, Chess Valley Walk is not a London walk, being already Hertfordshire though inside the M25, in The Chilterns AONB. However, what makes it a walk deserving mention in this guide is that it can be easily reached with the Metropolitan line, getting off at Rickmansworth.

This 10 miles walk from Rickmansworth to Chesham, follows the river Chess, which is a shallow one offering plenty of spots for picnics, a dog splash and lovely countryside views.

We have recently visited and will tell you all about Chess Valley Walk soon on the blog, in the meantime, you can find some more information and a map here.

Visiting woodlands in London with your dog

Dog among ferns on woodland walkDid you know that you don’t need to leave London to walk in the woods with your dog? That is correct, not only great parks, but there are also proper woodlands in London. The Woodland Trust woodlands map will help you find the perfect woodland spot in London and surrounding areas, where to take your dog for a stroll. We will tell you more about London woodlands soon on the blog.

How to travel without a car

If you don’t have a car, there are many ways you can easily reach the start of the walks described in this guide:

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