Looking for some great places to walk the dog? Dog walks are one of the joys of being a dog owner so in 2021 I set a goal to explore one new route with Bosun each month. Although lockdown restrictions meant we had to stay local, it was actually rather lovely to discover some new walks closer to home to enjoy time and again! We are so lucky in Bristol and Bath because there are some amazing green spaces in the city and a short drive takes us into the beautiful surrounding countryside of Somerset, Cotswolds and The Mendips.
So if you are bored of the same old route check out my dog walking diary for some inspiration!
Great dog walks around Bristol & Bath
- Sham Castle/Bath Skyline
January: Due to some seasonal wet weather I thought it would be a good idea to head to higher ground. So Bosun and I started our monthly challenge with a photo opportunity at Sham Castle. (Spoiler – it’s not really a castle but a folly on the edge of Bath Golf Course!)
Parking on North Rd look for a National Trust sign for Sham Castle (it’s free) with a public footpath leading uphill. This takes you across Golf Course Road to reach the folly. We carved out a nice circular path joining part of the Bath Skyline walk, keeping the golf course to our left. Our route took us along the edge of the University, around Bathampton Down, through part of Bathampton Wood and back onto Golf Course Rd.
We enjoyed some spectacular views across the city and this walk could easily be shortened or extended.
- Maes Knoll Hill Fort
February: A clear day demands spectacular views and Maes Knoll did not disappoint! We could see Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Severn Crossing to one side, and Chew Valley Lake to the other. There was livestock on route, including sheep and a couple of ponies. The mud was very bad in places but well worth it for the stunning views.
We took a circular route starting from Church Lane in Whitchurch, across farmland towards Norton Marleward before ascending up Maes Knoll for the return leg back towards Whitchurch. For a shorter walk avoiding the mud and livestock, you could start and finish the walk from Norton Marleward.
Dog walking in Spring
- Keynsham Fields
March: Starting opposite the Somerdale Estate, we usually follow the Monarch’s way along the River Avon in order to reach a nice pub! However, since the pubs were closed due to lockdown we decided to explore some other footpaths.
The Dramway Footpath also begins here, at Siston Brook. Unfortunately, we came upon a stile which Bosun couldn’t get past, although a smaller dog could easily get through or lifted over. So we tried the opposite side of the brook and found a little spot for a splash and some surprisingly good views.
It’s a nice spot for a wander, although there is sometimes livestock grazing.
- Royal Victoria Park, Bath
April: I had to go into Bath to purchase paracord for dog collars & leads so I took Bosun with me for a wander around the park. RVP has lots of shady paths and pretty botanical gardens, perfect for a warm spring day. We extended our walk to visit The Royal Crescent. It’s just a stick throw away, overlooking a sweeping lawn towards Royal Avenue which leads back into the park. Of course we finished off with a treat from the ice cream van!
- Newton St. Loe
May: This easy stroll through the grounds of Bath Spa University is a gem! Starting at the village shop in Newton St Loe, head down Workshop Lane and follow a footpath through trees. Cross the road and re-join the footpath to find the first of 2 lakes on the University grounds.
There are pathways around the lakes and a small woodland at the far end. This circular walk takes you past the University buildings and back to the lake, returning to Newton St Loe, where there is a dog friendly café at the farm shop.
Note: dogs cannot swim in the lakes.
- Stoke Park Estate
June: Stoke Park is home to the iconic yellow Dower House seen from the M32. It overlooks the vast grounds of the Estate. I had 2 hours parking in nearby Cheswick Village but only managed about half the park in that time!
There are some resident grazing cows but they are fenced in and easily avoided. Also a small sculpture trail through the woodland and, although overcast when we visited, great views on a clear day.
- Snuff Mills & Oldbury Court
July: Growing up I knew this area as Vassals Park. This place is great if your dog likes to swim as there are lots of safe access points for them to get in the river. This was Bosun’s birthday walk and he really enjoyed it here!
We parked at Snuff Mills (where there are toilets and an ice cream hut) and followed the path past an old flour mill with a working water wheel, along the river Frome into the Oldbury Court Estate. Away from the river are some nice paths around the park.
- Cheddar Gorge
August: A Bank Holiday camping trip was the ideal opportunity for this circular. The ascents/descents are challenging but the views are stunning.
Bosun stayed on a long line for fear of the sheer drops over the cliff – I wouldn’t take any chances here! Also, as you descend into woodland there are goats grazing.
I parked on Lippiatt Lane to start the Clifftop walk by Pavey’s Lookout Tower. Then crossed Cliff Rd to enter Black Rock Nature Reserve, returning on the opposite side of the Gorge.
The circuit took us about 2 hours, starting early in order to avoid the crowds and midday heat. There are lots of dog friendly places in the village for a well earned rest – perfect!
- Cheddar Reservoir
September: Before leaving Cheddar we took an easier stroll around the Reservoir. In contrast to the Gorge walk there is a flat path all around providing a lovely 360d view of the surrounding countryside. Despite being an overcast day I was able to make out Glastonbury Tor in the distance.
This is an on-lead walk and dogs can’t swim here. I think Bosun was quite keen to go in the water at first but eventually accepted that wasn’t happening!
October: After 10 days of Covid self-isolation I couldn’t wait to get out so we headed to the beach! Bosun and I had a nice day breathing in some fresh outdoor air! Dogs are allowed on the main seafront beach Sept-May and Bosun loved having all that open space to run.
Parking was easy this time of year at the far end of Marine Parade (just £2.50 for 4hrs). However being out of season some of the toilet blocks were closed. The one I found open was near the Grand Pier; you need 20p so take some loose change with you!
- Stantonbury Hill, nr Marksbury
November: A ‘there and back again’ hill walk for some good exercise!
Parking nearby in Stanton Prior this walk up and over Stantonbury Hill took about 1 hour. (It’s also known as Stantonbury Camp, the site of an Iron Age hill fort.) At the top we emerged from a small woodland to a flat clearing with crops of wheat or corn. We walked around the perimeter and down the other side of the hill towards the A39.
The trees obscured the view from the top but nonetheless it was a very nice quiet walk; we didn’t see anyone else at all, just some buzzards and a startled pheasant!
12. Bristol Harbour
December: Seeking to avoid mud we headed into the city for a scenic walk around the harbour. This circular walk had a lot for us to take in. It’s a busy area with different bridges and walkways and unfamiliar sounds. Unfortunately this caused a sensory overload for Bosun (a shame really, as his name is the term for a ship’s deck supervisor).
The area has seen a lot of recent development and there are plenty of cafes and bars to choose from if your dog is more relaxed in this environment. Still, the rich local history remains and you can see the beautiful replica of John Cabot’s ship, The Matthew.
We took a small detour for a photo opportunity at the Clifton Suspension Bridge Viewpoint. To get there leave the harbour at Underfall dockyard and follow a public footpath across Ashton Avenue Bridge. This leads to a grassy open space; walk to the right along the river Avon for a clear view of Brunel’s iconic bridge.
There are lots of other photo opportunities around the Harbour but, as a Bristolian the bridge view is a special one!
Did you know – my 3 paracord dog collar designs are all named after Bristol references Ashton, Brunel and Cabot 🙂
I really loved exploring with my best furry friend and I hope you find a walk here that you can enjoy with your dog too. I have only given a rough guide here but I use apps such as Viewranger and Google maps to find my way around. So what are you waiting for – fetch the dog and go for an adventure!
Until next time,
Julie & Bosun