Dog walks in Norfolk
15:55 05 January 2016
Work off the excesses of Christmas while exploring Norfolk’s stunning landscape with your four-legged friend
It is a great time of year to discover new dog walks, as well as a few pet friendly pubs along the way for refreshment.
Many places are a lot quieter than in the busy warmer months, and also the beach restrictions put in place between March and October are not in operation, meaning your dog can have far more freedom to chase around on the sand and into the sea. Before you set off, it is always important to check exactly where your dog is allowed to go and whether it needs to be on a lead, especially in areas rich in wildlife. Most local councils and organisations have good advice on any restrictions on their land – as well as some top tips for some great dog walking routes. Here we select four of our own favourites:
There can be few better beaches to explore in winter than the wilds of Holkham. It is a dog’s paradise, with abundant space, smells and plenty of water to charge in and out of. It is also incredibly beautiful and invigorating, ensuring you are as refreshed as your dog. Simply walk out across the sand to the dunes and then down to the sea, or for a longer, less muddy walk, follow the coastal path round to Wells and back, through the pine trees. Remember your wellies and a towel for your dog – getting wet and messy is inevitable. Then head to The Victoria Hotel on the Holkham Estate (www.holkham.co.uk), which welcomes dogs in all areas except the restaurant. Enjoy a spot of lunch, a pot of tea to warm you up or a pint of real ale.
Into the woods
Bacton Woods, managed by the Forestry Commission, (www.forestry.gov.uk) is great for dog walks with endless trails to follow and exciting smells to sniff out – and if you are looking for a great family walk, your kids will love it too.
The woodland includes two Sessile oaks, which are thought to be more than 200 years old, as well as 30-plus other species of trees, and a large pond. There are three walks denoted by colour posts around the woods and you can find a guide to each one in the car park. Afterwards, jump back in your car and head for something to eat or drink just up the road at The Ship in Mundesley, (www.mundesley-ship.co.uk), one of the oldest pubs in Norfolk. Dogs and children are always welcome and in the winter there will be a roaring fire to warm up beside.
Start at Loddon staithe, cross the bridge, turn right down an unmade track and it will bring you on to the Wherryman’s Way - an unbeatable way to explore the beautiful Broads’ landscape. Walk alongside the river for about a mile to Hardley Flood, where you will see and hear plenty of wildlife, including many species of wading birds, as well as marsh harriers, owls and woodpeckers. Keep a close eye on your dog as there are some fields with cattle and it is often very muddy at this time of year. See www.wherrymansway.net for a map of circular walks in the area, or simply walk as far as you fancy before turning back to Loddon, where you can head to The Swan (www.theloddonswan.co.uk). The owners welcome dogs with a fuss, water and occasional treat in the courtyard garden and bar areas.
You don’t need to be in rural Norfolk to enjoy the great outdoors – there is a wilderness to explore in the heart of the city.
Mousehold Heath covers 184 acres with so many different terrains, from heathland and grassy expanses of recreational open space to woodland and steep hilly trails.
There are car parks dotted around Mousehold, and endless areas and pathways to explore and plenty of wildlife to spot. Come out of the heath in the north of the city centre and head to traditional pub, The Whalebone on Magdalen Road (www.whalebonefreehouse.co.uk). It serves a great range of real ales plus an excellent choice of wine and fresh coffee. For you, there are pork pies, sausage rolls or scotch eggs to refuel, and for your dog, a warm welcome and possibly even a dog treat behind the bar.