When it comes to our dogs, there is no word quite like W-A-L-K-I-E-S to conjure up a flurry of excitement. Dogs are curious creatures who love to explore their surroundings, taking in every sound, sight and smell whilst out on their daily walk. Where these used to be plentiful, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting Government measures that followed, changed the routines of both pets and owners alike.
According to the PDSA, there are an estimated 9.9 million pet dogs across the UK, with 26% of the adult population owning one. That’s a lot of dogs that need walking! For those surrounded by countryside and open spaces, a walk with the dog may sound like well, a walk in the park. But for those living in built-up cities like London, where is the safest place to walk your pooch whilst social distancing?
Here at YuMOVE, we analysed data from Walkiees, Google and YouGov to reveal the most remote dog walking hotspots in and around London.
Revealed: Peckham Rye Park and Common in Southwark is the most remote dog walk in London
We analysed data from Walkiees to find all of the walking routes located within London, which could be attributed to a London borough. We looked at features such as the overall walk rating on Walkiees, the population of dogs within London and the facilities available on route, to create an average ranking score.
The facilities we looked at included:
- Free Parking
- Paid Parking
- Off Lead Areas
- On Lead Areas
- Pathed Routes
- Animals on Route
- Picnic Areas
- Water on Route
- Refreshments Available
- Wheelchair Friendly
Of the 135 dog walking routes we analysed, below were the top 10 walking routes available in London
With 1 being the highest possible rank, coming up top is the Peckham Rye Park and Common walk located in Southwark with an overall rating of 1.7. This walk spans 113 acres of open space, which is made up of grassland, ornamental and water gardens, a lake and woodland. It received a rating of 2 on Walkiees for the route itself and the highest possible rank for the features on offer; boasting off-lead areas, pathed routes, picnic areas, toilets, water and refreshments, and the fact that it is wheelchair accessible.
With only 12.20% of households owning a dog in Southwark, this route received a rating of 2 for pet ownership, suggesting that although dog-friendly, this route is the most remote walking route in London!
Coming in joint second place with an overall rating of 3.7 are Claybury Woods and Park (located in Redbridge) and Urban Canalside in East London (located in Tower Hamlets). Each walk received the highest rating of 1 for the features available, however ranking results varied when it came to the rating of the route itself and the population of dogs. Urban Canalside was rated as a nicer walk in general receiving a rating of 2 compared to Claybury’s 5, however Claybury has a 13.52% population of dogs per household compared with Canalside’s 14.68%.
Camden makes the top 10
Also making the top ten with an average rank of 6.0 is Regent's Park - which is one of the Royal Parks of London and is located between the City of Westminster and the borough of Camden. This Central walk even features a zoo and received a rating of 5 on Walkiees just for the route. In terms of facilities on offer, Regent’s Park scored fairly highly thanks to it’s off-lead areas, pathed routes, toilets and accessibility. However, out of our top ten list, this walk scored one of the highest on the population of dogs within the area.
Venturing out of London? Surrey offers the most remote dog walks within 25 miles of the city
As lockdown measures begin to ease and people are venturing further afield, we decided to take a look at walking routes located within a 25-mile radius of London - for those looking for a moment of calm on the outskirts of the city with their pooch.
Of the 135 dog walking routes we analysed, below were the top 10 walking routes available within a 25-mile radius of London.
When compiling a list of the top 10 walking routes on the outskirts of London, we looked at areas within a 25 mile radius of the very outskirts of London - to allow for more choice when it comes to the routes on offer. Our top three spots actually saw six locations compete for joint first, second and third place. Coming right up top are both Camberley and Egham, each with an average score of 249 out of a possible 270.
Frimley Lodge Park is a recreational site spanning 59 acres, located in Camberley and Savill Garden and Polo Fields is an exotic woodland and rose garden located in Egham - both in Surrey. Each scored highly based on the overall walking route, achieving a score of 126 out of a possible 135.
In terms of the number of facilities on offer, dog-walkers and other visitors were impressed, each earned a score of 123 out of a possible 135. This suggests that Surrey is the place to be when it comes to looking for a scenic route that is also accessible.
In joint second place is Bedfont Lakes County Park, a 72.5-hectare local nature reserve in Feltham and Virginia Water in Egham, Surrey. Both locations received an overall rating of 239, achieving a score of 108 for the route itself and 131 for the facilities on offer. From the data we can see that although visitors were happy with the amenities around these walks, the overall routes were rated lower than those at Frimley Lodge and Savill Garden.
Coming in third place is Gunners Park to East Beach located in Southend-On-Sea and Basingstoke Canal in Camberley, Surrey. Both of these walking routes are actually walks rather than parks or open spaces, and each scored an overall rating of 218 out of a possible 270. Despite this, both walks scored 110 for the facilities on offer and a rating of 108 for the walk overall.
So where in London should you avoid if you are looking for a remote walking route? Our data reveals that Havering in East London is the doggy hotspot in the big smoke, with over a quarter of households in that borough owning a dog!
Revealed: Havering is home to the most dogs in London
Of the 32 boroughs within London, below are the top 10 boroughs which have the most dogs
In second place is the borough of Bexley in South East London, which has a 24.48% population of dogs per household. Following closely behind in third place, and located nine miles east of Central London, is Barking and Dagenham with 24.02% of the population harbouring a canine companion.
How often should you walk your dog?
All dogs need exercise in order to stay fit and healthy, support their joints and avoid unnecessary weight gain - but the amount of exercise your dog needs will vary depending on their age, breed, diet, size, and overall health.
It’s important to remember that puppies need to protect their growing joints and build up to longer walks, to avoid causing damage later in life. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer!
Chad Dodd, a vet with over 20 years of experience in the animal health industry and part of the YuMOVE team, says: “If you can, break out of your routine and drive your dog to a nearby outdoor park, walking trail, or open field. Your dog will benefit from exploring new paths, watching wildlife, and sniffing out new surroundings.” Getting out and about with your pooch provides a number of other benefits to your canine’s overall health and wellbeing, including:
- Mental stimulation - just like humans, dogs get bored! Allowing your dog to explore the outside world will prevent them from becoming restless, bored and disobedient. Chad Dodd says: “It’s easy for dogs to get bored doing the same routine in the same environment. Getting out and walking is great therapy for the mind as well as the body, at both ends of the leash.”
- Behavioural training - well-exercised dogs tend to behave better
- Socialisation - try to vary the walks you go on so that your dog has a chance to sniff out new places and socialise with other animals and humans!
- Quality time with you - what greater way to strengthen your bond with your pup than by exploring together?
We analysed 135 dog walks located within a 25-mile radius of London (this includes areas on the very edge of the city) and gained information on the walks rating (based on users of Walkiees), features available for each walk and the population of dogs within each London Borough (from YouGov). Using the data collected, we gave each walk a rank or score based on its overall rating (reviews), the numbers of features available and the percentage of the population who own at least one dog.
For data within the top London walks, each walk was given a rank (1 = the best) for each data set and an average rank was calculated to give the overall rankings table. For top walks outside of London, each walk was given a score (135 = the best) for each data set and a total score was allocated to give the rankings table.
YouGov: Yougov Profiles GB population Adults +18, sourced from survey w/c1st June