If you are on the hunt for original things to do with your dog in London, then, one not many know about and you should definitely put on your list, is taking your dog for a ride on Ruislip Lido Railway. Argo the dog and I have had it on our bucket list for a while and last weekend we finally checked the box. And it suddenly became our new favourite dog-friendly experience! This is what you need to know to plan your own visit!
Ruislip Lido Railway dog-friendly
All of a sudden, Summer seems to have hit London and one of the best places to feel on holiday without leaving town is Ruislip Lido beach. There you can enjoy many dog-friendly activities, including having a ride with your pooch on Ruislip Lido Railway!
Ruislip Lido Railway is a picturesque miniature 12-inch railway which runs around Ruislip lake and through ancient Ruislip Woods. Built back in 1946 as a tourist attraction, it has small diesel locomotives powering its trains – and on certain days steam locomotive “Mad Bess” may be on duty too -. Trains run at a reduced speed between Woody Bay Station, on the Southern shore of the Lido by the beach, and Willow Lawn Station, close to the car park.
All trains have a dedicated buggy carriage and are wheel-chair friendly, which makes them ideal for a family day out. But the best thing for us is, of course, that they are dog-friendly!
Taking your dog on the train
One thing to consider if you plan to take your dog on the adventure is that the railway is extremely popular and in the Summer – or on those nice sunny days -, you will often find long queues at the ticket office. In fact, when we were there last August, well before our turn in the queue came, all tickets for the ride were sold out.
Before our ride, the manager – who also drove our train! -, told us that they welcome dogs on the trains as long as they well-behaved and kept under control for the whole journey. He recounted that, in the past, they had a case of a dog that jumped off the train and ran away, so they had to stop the train in the middle of the ride for safety reasons. There have been also rare occasions when the dogs were frightened of the ride (if your dog is used to travelling by car and public transport you will most likely be just fine, but good to make a call considering your dog’s confidence). In consideration of the safety of the train and its passengers (human and canine alike), it is the Train Guard’s discretion whether to refuse a dog to travel.
The carriages have vis-a-vis seats which accomodate two people for each row. If you have a small dog, you can keep it on your lap or between your legs, while if you travel with a larger canine friend, you may want to lift the seat opposite yours to make room for your dog, as the staff explained during our visit.
Our dog ride on Ruislip Lido Railway
Last weekend we were lucky to enjoy a very sunny day and find that not everyone had the idea of getting a tickets for the Railway. We had a pleasant walk on the path around the lake and met many doggie friends, before reaching Woody Bay Station and get our tickets without any long queue.
I was overjoyed as a kid on Christmas day and already very excited to see the train approaching over the fence that encloses the station. We were among the first ones to arrive and chose the second carriage from the locomotive. We figured it was a good position to enjoy the view without being too close to the locomotive in case it made any loud/scary noises for Argo.
The lovely green carriages have a cover on top which makes them even more cosy. As told by the staff, we lifted one of the seats to make room for Argo and my husband put his legs across the gaps on the two sides of the carriage for extra security, considered that there are no doors or other devices to close the openings on the carriages.
After the honk of the horn, the train left the station. At first, Argo kept looking from one side to the other, to see what was happening and where we were heading. He found the train horn very interesting, straightening his ears every time it honked. In about ten minutes of ride through the woods, we reached Willow Lane Station. On the return ride we also met a little white dog travelling on our train a couple of carriages in front of us, who, during the ride, peeked out of the carriage with his ears to the wind and seemed to have a great time. He must have been a regular!
We absolutely LOVED the experience and really can’t wait to be back! This is by far the most exciting thing to do with your dog we tried so far!
Tickets & timetable
Timetable. The Railway is completely ran by volunteers (there is no paid staff), which carry out an incredible and passionate work, and is normally open over weekends and bank holidays. You can find the full timetable here.
Tickets. Tickets for the railway cost £2 per person single (dogs go free) or £3 return. Groups of 20+ people can reserve a carriage on a service train, or you can even hire the whole train out of normal operating hours. There may be rare occasions when very large dogs may be refused if the train was exceptionally busy, since the carriages are very small.
Getting there. If you have a car, there is a car park at Ruislip Lido, although it may be very busy in the Summer. Alternatively, you can easily reach Ruislip Lido by public transport with the Metropolitan Line getting off at Ruislip and then taking the bus H13 in front of the station to Ruislip Lido.
We love walking, so for the return, also this time we walked from the Lido to the station, through the Woods and then the lovely residential area.
Since you are there: have fun at Ruislip Lido Dog Beach
Dogs are not allowed on the main beach, but don’t worry: there is a dedicated Ruislip Lido Doggie Beach! After your train ride, we recommend a stop at the doggie beach. After your ride on the railway and not before, just in order to avoid ending up with an incredibly muddy dog between your legs and annoying the other passengers that may be sitting next to you or leaving the train a mess.
If you have watched the video we posted on our Facebook page last Saturday with the two dogs running at the beach and swimming to retrieve their toys, you already got the idea: a very nice little spot. The only downside (apart from the extremely muddy shore) is that the area is not enclosed and a path runs just behind it (so you may encounter bikes, etc).
You can read all about the doggie beach in our previous blog post here.
Other dog things to do at Ruislip Lido
If you like hiking, a walk around Ruislip Woods is a perfect activity to add to your train ride. If, on the other hand, you fancy relaxing, you can opt for a cup at the Lakeside Cafe, which has also a terrace overlooking the beach and the children playground. There we found a bucket of water for the dogs too and many furry ones enjoying lunch with their humans, so you will be in good company for sure.
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