Best Hiking Trails for Dogs in Somerset


Written by: Jodie Lindop

For those who love the outdoors and dogs, going for long walks or hikes with your dog is one of life’s great pleasures, particularly if it’s out in the country where you can let him romp off lead. Somerset is a spectacular such destination offering some of the most varied and exciting walking terrain anywhere in the UK. Boasting one of the country’s most scenic national parks, and three designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Somerset features rugged coastline, rolling hills and moors, as well as expansive flatlands. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a casual stroll through the quiet countryside, Somerset offers something for everyone, humans and canines alike; it’s a challenge figuring out where to start. We have included a list of some of our favourites.

Be prepared before embarking on a hiking adventure with your dog. For starters, even if you don’t plan to let your dog off lead, he should have some kind of identification on him in the event you are separated and he gets lost. Many of the hikes listed below traverse protected countryside where you’re likely to encounter a variety of wildlife. If your dog is likely to give chase, you’re best off leaving him on lead. Also, bring along plenty of water and a portable travel bowl, even if it’s not that hot. Be aware that your dog can overheat more quickly than you, so keep a close eye on him, making sure he stays cool and doesn’t overexert himself. Finally, remember he may be a muddy mess after a walk in the countryside; pack along cleaning supplies and protect your car interior with a seat cover.

Quantock Hills


Photo by John Crocker
Image source: Panoramio

It’s understandable how Quantock Hills earned its designation as England’s first AONB, situated as it is on a panoramic 12-mile ridge between Bridgwater, Taunton, and Minehead. The combination of open heathland, ancient forests interspersed with babbling brooks, rugged coastline, and a reputation as one of the most dog-friendly destinations in the UK should put this at the top of your list. Not not only is there plenty of safe open space for you and your dog to romp, after a long day of hiking you can both settle down at one of the welcoming local pubs for a refreshing libation and bite to eat.

Depending on your preferences, you can choose to stroll across the open, heath-covered summits, hike on a forest footpath, or head to one of the beaches—or if you have the time, do all three. Enjoy these popular walks:

Cothelstone Hill – This is a glorious hike encompassing miles of woodland trails and 360-degree hilltop views. Watch for Exmoor ponies.
Kilve and East Quantoxhead – Include fossil hunting as part of this spectacular three-mile hike on the “Jurassic Coastline”.
Ranscombe, Great Wood – Walk among majestic Douglas firs and Sitka spruce. Stop for a picnic and make a day of it.

Mendip Hills


Image source: The Swan Hotel

South of Bristol and Bath, this well known AONB encompasses a range of distinctive limestone hills rising from the Somerset Levels, featuring stunning open landscape with breathtaking views, dramatic gorges, caves, and ancient forests. Here are some favorite destinations:

Black Down and Burrington Ham – Enjoy roaming this heathland consisting of dramatic, open landscapes. On a clear day you can see Wales, Exmoor, Bristol, and Glastonbury. Be mindful of the Exmoor ponies you will likely encounter along the way.
Cheddar Gorge – Explore England’s largest gorge which cuts a dramatic swath through the Mendip Hills. Four hundred feet deep and three miles long, Cheddar Gorge features craggy peaks and interesting native plants and wildlife. Park down below and head up the steep steps or park at the top for a gentler walk to Black Rock, Long Wood, Velvet Bottom, or to Charterhouse. Please note that this hike is not recommended in foggy or windy weather.
Cheddar Reservoir – This popular destination for dogs and their owners presents a great opportunity for both of you to socialise.
Rowberrow Warren – With a dog-friendly pub strategically situated nearby, this area features a variety of picturesque walks through ancient forests.
King’s Wood – This beautiful ancient woodland dating back to medieval times features a number of interesting footpaths. Extend your walk up to Wavering Down and Crooks Peak (also known as the Sleeping Giant’s Nose) to wear out your dog.

Somerset boasts a plethora of spectacular walks and hikes for humans and dogs. It’s a great area for exploring so don’t limit yourself to the destinations we’ve described here. Before you go, check the local weather conditions, which are often very different on the coast compared to inland. In addition, we recommend getting a hold of some local maps, generally available online, so you and your favourite canine can freely explore without fear of getting lost.

Sources:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_4YcCW-Lmtjw7MwRIZPf2d2d8hKEp7vVjOEpyXXmnyY/edit?usp=sharing
http://www.quantockhills.com/news/article/50_things_to_do_in_the_quantock_hills/
https://www.quantockonline.co.uk/tourism_leisure/activities/walking.html
http://www.quantockhills.com/resources/Q_visitor_guide_dl_16pp_v5.pdf
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g190730-i3161-k7471420-Somewhere_nice_to_walk_my_dog_near_Taunton-Taunton_Somerset_England.html
http://www.theoldciderhouse.co.uk/dog-friendly-quantocks/
http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/quantock-hills-aonb.html
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jun/08/lets-go-to-the-quantock-hills-somerset
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/16488581
http://www.swanhotelwells.co.uk/news/mendip-hills/

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