Dog-Friendly Parks: North London
Alexandra Palace Park isn’t only one of the most famous parks in London – it’s also home to some stunning views. Affectionately dubbed ‘Ally Pally’ by locals, Alexandra Palace Park spans 196 hectares and has an extremely interesting history (Alexandra Palace itself, an impressive Victorian structure, was designed to be an entertainment centre and was originally named ‘The Palace of the People’. The venue still hosts concerts and sports events today). There’s a great mixture of open grassland, decorative gardens and a lake to explore with your canine companion. If you happen to be in the area in November or at New Year, the famous firework displays are pretty hard to beat!
Competing with Alexandra Palace for the best views over London is Hampstead Heath: you’d be hard pressed to find a more spectacular sight than that which is enjoyed from the top of Parliament Hill (which is nearly 100 metres high). If you don’t fancy a steep climb, though, never fear: Hampstead Heath is one of the biggest parks in London (nearly 800 acres), so there’s plenty of choice when it comes to finding a trail – and loads to see, wherever you walk. Swimming ponds, dog-friendly pools, ancient monuments, and archaeological sites are all waiting to be discovered!
Dog-Friendly Parks: Central London
An inner city oasis that has been open to the public since 1858, Battersea Park is a haven for dog walkers, ramblers, and runners alike. Situated by the Thames, this truly unique space is Grade-II listed and boasts a variety of manicured gardens, woodland, a children’s playground, and even a zoo. After you’ve had a good walk, take a load off at the Pear Tree, the park’s dog-friendly café.
One of London’s Royal Parks, Hyde Park is arguably the capital’s most famous park: chock-full of iconic landmarks like the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and Speaker’s Corner, this huge green space attracts millions of visitors every year. The park is very dog-friendly, though you’ll need to keep your pooch on a lead when strolling around the edge of the famous Serpentine Lake or through the magnificent Rose Garden. Hyde Park makes a great base for exploring nearby Green Park or St James’s Park, too; these three parks are interconnected, and are sometimes known as the ‘Lungs of London’.
Dog-Friendly Parks: South London
Crystal Palace Park is a place like no other: where else could you find dinosaur statues and a maze all in one green space? Sadly the original Crystal Palace is no more (it was destroyed by a fire in the 1930s), but there’s still plenty to do and see here. Wander around the lake and take in the giant prehistoric models created by sculptor and natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and palaeontologist (and founder of the Natural History Museum) Richard Owen; or see pigs, horses and snakes at Capel Manor, the park’s very own urban farm. If your canine chum is into thrill-seeking, check out the newly-built 1,100m skate park, which opened in 2018.
Even if you’ve never been to Greenwich Park, chances are you will recognise the famous Royal Observatory (which has been featured in many television programmes and films over the years). Situated on a gentle slope down to the River Thames, this park is a wonderful mix of breathtaking landmarks and lush vegetation, housing iconic buildings like the Old Naval College and the National Maritime Museum as well as a variety of open green spaces. Unlike some other parks, wildlife (like deer) are kept in secure, separate areas, so there’s no need to worry about keeping your dog on a lead.
Dog-Friendly Parks: East London
There are hundreds of walking trails in Epping Forest, which spans an incredible 5,930 hectares.
An ancient woodland that stretches from London to Essex, Epping Forest is rich in history: once a strategic site used by warring tribes (embankments dating from the Iron Age have been found), it is thought that King Henry II gave it the legal status of ‘royal forest’ in the 13th century. One notable attraction is the Hunting Lodge, which was built for King Henry VIII and still stands (it has undergone extensive renovation and has been open to the public since 1960). The King commissioned the Lodge in the 1540s as a viewing platform for deer chases at Chingford, but it was redecorated in 1589 for Elizabeth I, who also used to hunt in the forest. In fact, Elizabeth I is said to have ridden her horse triumphantly up the staircase to celebrate her defeat of the Spanish Armada!
The ancient woodland is a precious habitat for a range of flora and fauna, too – housing 100 lakes/ponds, many of which are suitable for angling, and 50,000 ancient trees – and as such has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Dog-Friendly Parks: West London
Whilst not every inch of Chiswick House and Gardens is open to dogs (the walled gardens, for example, are out of bounds), it’s still well worth a look. The House itself is a stunning neo-Palladian structure, and the gardens – which date from the 18th century – have inspired spaces throughout the world (Central Park in New York, for instance). There are waterfalls, charming woodland areas, and even a dog-friendly lake for your pooch to paddle in.
Richmond Park is famous for many reasons. Originally created as a deer park by Charles I in the 17th century, it houses a number of notable buildings (such as the historic Isabella Plantation), and is the biggest enclosed space in the city. The park is home to some important wildlife: as such, it enjoys protected status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a European Special Area of Conservation, and a National Nature Reserve. Dog owners must take particular care in certain areas, and should take note of the various restrictions; your four-legged friend will need to be kept on a lead to ensure you can both enjoy the gorgeous scenery without worry.
Keen to enjoy more walks with your canine companion? Check out our earlier blog, ‘The Best Dog Walks in London’, for further inspiration!