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Tips for Hiking with your Dog in the SpringBack
There are definately signs that Spring is around the corner, Snowdrops, lighter nights etc, and, in The Good Kennel Guides opinions the perfect time to don your boots and and go hiking with your dog. We live on an island packed with incredible outdoor spaces to enjoy with our four-legged friends. Across Britain you’ll find deep valleys, challenging peaks, historical landmarks and beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored. This makes the UK a hiking paradise for both you and your dogs. We have put together some of our top tips to enable you to have a safe and enjoyable hike.
What clothing should I wear to go hiking?
The clothing that you wear when hiking should be weather appropriate. As we are discussing Spring hikes in this article, a big heavy winter coat would probably not be suitable. A lighter, waterproof jacket, maybe one with detachable layers, would work better, to allow you to adapt accordingly whilst out. Alternatively, wearing mid layers under your jacket would also allow you to adapt. This also applies to trousers, a lighter weight trouser which is waterproof and breathable would be more comfortable than thick fleeced winter trousers.
This is one of our favorites, made from lightweight GORE-TEX, it is waterproof and breathable and has pockets that will comfortably hold your maps.
Warming quarter-zip pullover in lightweight fleece (170 gsm) with a subtle herringbone pattern. Made for year-round layering.
Cut hip length with a breeze blocking stand collar.
An excellent layering piece which regulates both heat and manages moisture.
This is extremely lightweight and fully waterproof due to the GORE-TEX Paclite technology. It can easily pack down to fit into a rucksack with no problem.
This jacket boasts all the features of the mens above but in a ladies cut.
A great all round hiking trouser at a good price. Lightweight, water repellent, wind proof, quick drying, and breathable. Whats not to like?
A trouser that ticks all of the boxes. Water resistant, lightweight, quick drying, zip pockets, UPF 40+, breathable and that little bit of stretch for that added comfort. What more could you ask for from a pair of trousers?
How do I choose a hiking route?
It is important that you research the hiking trails near you before heading out. The trail that you decide on must suit the physical abilities of both you and your dog. Please dont embark on an all day mountain trail if you only normally pop round the block. It is important to build up gradually, its not going to be fun for either of you if get halfway around on your hike and find that you or your dog cant make it any further. Once you have chosen your ideal trail it is a good idea to take a map along with you.
Here are some of our firm favourites.
The New Forest has some great walks of differing lengths and abilities, one of our favourites is The North Taste Trail which is a lovely 15 mile circular hike which manages to take in a couple of pubs along the way in which to recharge the batteries or alternatively some lovely picnicing spots. This trail will allow you to explore the villages of Fritham and Fordingbridge during your walk.
One of our top choices for hikes with magnificiant views and iconic sights is Beachy Head and the surrounding areas. You can take in the Eastbourne Pier, Italian Gardens, Beachy Head Lighthouse and the lovely hamlet of Birling Gap where you will find an excellent view point of the Seven Sisters. Birling Gap is also one of the few places with access to the beach, well worth taking the time out to visit.
Heading over to Wales, its hard to beat the stunning Snowdonia National Park. The trail we have picked as a top choice here is a 10 mile hike along a level former railway track (Mawddach Trail), bridleway, rough pasture, moorland and lane, with a moderate climb to Llynnau Cregennen. It also takes in the lake of Llynnau and Afon Gwynant which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Mawddach Trail itself is accessible to wheelchair users. Refreshments can be found at George III Hotel Penmaenpool, Gwynedd.
The Northumbrian Coast is an area that we are constantly drawn back to. There are many outstanding walks in the area, with our choice being the Great Tosson Circuit. An 11 mile hike from Great Tosson over Tosson Hill to Hepple Whitfield, passing Caistron Lake Nature Reserve before reaching Thropton and then returning to Great Tosson. Refreshments are available at the Three Wheat Heads in Thropton before beginning the final leg from Thropton back to Great Tosson.
The walk is on public footpaths, tracks and some stretches of quiet county roads. Footpaths and tracks vary from grass to rough, wet, muddy and boggy. They also include some quite steep ascents and descents. From several vantage points there are fine views of The Cheviot, Hedgehope Hill, the Coquet Valley and Caistron Lake Nature Reserve.
If you are looking for a hike with reletively easy terrain but longer in distance the 17 mile circuit around Rutland Water would be hard to beat. This can be extended further by taking in Hambleton Penninsula which makes it 26 miles in total. There are toilets, cafes and more at the Normanton and Whitwell visitor centres, toilets also at the Egleton bird watching centre, and refreshment venues at various other points along the route. This route is very popular with tourists and cyclists so you need to stay aware but it is well worth it. There are also many other activities available at Rutland Water such as rockwall climbing, trampoling, a resevoir cruise, playground and much more. If you have any time left the historic market town of Oakham is just a 5 minute drive away.
What type of footwear would be best for hiking?
We recommend not using your favourite pair or trainers, as tempting as it is, they are unlikely to stand up to the test of dog walking day in day out and they wont be much use off-road. You need shoes that will protect and support your feet and soak up the lumps and bumps along the way, allowing your feet to breathe and you to keep up with your four legged friend. The best shoes for dog walking are waterproof and breathable, with tough rubber soles and good grip. You might want a lighter mesh fabric shoe in summer but leather and suede shoes are much warmer and heavier, so are suitable for all weathers.
Please refer to our dedicated Best Walking Shoes for Dog Walkers article for more advice and our best buys.
What else should I consider taking with me on my hike?
What to take on a hike will vary slightly depending on the length, ease of terrain, weather conditions etc but here are a few of the basic musthaves. Much of this is common sense but it doesnt hurt to double check you have everying you will need for an enjoyable hike.
Water, for both you and your dog. We love this Vivaglory water bottle for dogs on the go. It has a large 750ml capacity and a handy neoprene sling to keep your hands free.
A Rucksack. If you are going for more than a short walk you are probably going to need some sort of rucksack or backpack. This way you will be able carry extra layers to deal with any weather changes as well as all the normal dog paraphalia needed. This 20l ultra lightweight water resistant version ticks many boxes and has multiple compartments. It is available in several colours and also has a 35l option for that extra bit of room.
A few dog treats will often come in handy to reward good behaviour and keep your dogs energy levels up on a long hike. There are many tasty ones out there, here are the ones our dogs gave a 10/10. No added nasties, hypoallergenic and gluten free they are a hit with us too.
Last but not least the all important poo bags. We love, (if its possible to love a poo bag), these biodegradable, leak proof ones.
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