Consistently ranked one of the most Instagrammed areas of the UK, Yorkshire provides some of the most dramatic dog-walking scenery going. Leeds is the perfect starting point for a regional day trip, whether you want exercise to tire your dog out, spectacular views to fill your Camera Roll, covetable country estates with top-notch cafes, or–why not–all three. The best part about taking your dog for a long leg stretch around Leeds is that you get to enjoy it, too.
Address & map: Temple Newsam Rd, Leeds LS15 0AE
One of, if not the most striking attraction in Leeds is this stunning Tudor-Jacobean house that’s named after the Temple-Newsam borough of Leeds that it sits in. There are 1500-acres of sniffing-space here–save for inside the house and the working farm, which are both out of bounds to the most over-excitable members of the family (read: those with heirloom-flinging tails). Still, even with those parts out of the equation, there is so much leafy space here that you could easily spend a whole day traversing the dog-friendly paths and ancient woodlands. Capability Brown landscaped the gardens, and they are quite something–beautifully designed, and bursting with pockets of petals (crocuses, bluebells, rhododendrons) throughout the different seasons. For parched pups, water and treats can be found in the cafe, which has a dog-friendly area in the rather grandly named Lady Hertford Suite. Somewhere we wouldn’t advise testing out the furniture. That said, staff are rather partial to dogs–when ordering for the humans, a complimentary canine reward is on offer at the till.
If you like your views like your poop bags–strong and always at hand–this forested nature reserve overlooking the town of Otley offers them up on steroids. Only 10-miles north-west of Leeds’ city centre, it’s an absolute beauty of a day out: hike with your dog up the north-facing cliff and you’ll get Wharfe Valley views from a hefty 280m above sea level. While you’re still scrambling up, expect your dog to have already scaled the summit; they will simply stand there and wait, shooting you back a few doggy/dodgy looks that say, “Muuuum, daaaad, what are you so slow?” Ahh, the joy of having four legs. There are miles and miles of woodland tracks ready to give all those canine limbs a good workout, though. As you scale moorland, woodland and rocky crags, your pooch and the panoramic views become your permanent hiking companions. Dogs are allowed throughout the park, but the council advises that they should only be let off their leads if they return immediately when called. Roger that.
Address & map: Churwell, Morley, Leeds LS27 7UL
One for the smaller dogs, Churwell Urban Woodlands is a mini four-acre oasis of greenery in the most unlikely of spots–the middle of a residential zone. Don’t let that you deter you, though, as this unexpectedly pretty find is fully dog-friendly. The woods are laced with pram- and wheelchair-accessible pathways, many forming circular routes that take you past wildflowers, a stream, three ponds, plus a railway. It’s the perfect spot to come with your dog for peace and quiet, as it’s often just you and the birds. Take advantage of the relaxed twosome time: there’s a bench beside a bird-feeding point if you want to take five minutes’ time out. Just no dreaming about bird-chasing though, right?
Address & map: Off Collier Lane, Aberford, Leeds LS25 3EB
With Leeds planning a year-long cultural celebration in 2023, now is the time to swot up on local history, and few surroundings have the historical pizzazz of this Edwardian country manor. Sure, your dog’s take on high-brow culture might be trying to steal an olive off a worktop (progress, at least, from stealing underwear), but they will give all the tail-waggling to the woodland walks on offer here. While Lotherton Hall is definitely dog-friendly, there are some restrictions on letting pooches run free. In the woods and around the boundary, anything goes: leads off, noses down, limbs stretched. Elsewhere, such as in the formal gardens, near the playgrounds, and in the bird garden, it’s leads-on. One curious feature that you probably weren’t expecting to find in the grounds? A pet cemetery. It’s made up of nine headstones, each bearing the name of one of the much-adored dogs belonging to Sir Alvary and Lady Gascoigne, the last private owners of the estate.
Address & map: 49 Haigh Moor Road, Wakefield WF3 1EE
This 2.5km circular route is hugely popular with dog-walkers, not least because of the striking views which, on a clear day, take in Emley Moor and the Pennines. Expect to say hello–and to stop for a full-body sniff–with lots of other owners (just the dogs sniffing, we clarify). As well as receiving doggy visitors, the reservoir’s day job is to store water before supplying it to Wakefield. Just don’t be tempted to swim: because of the depth, strong undercurrents put even experienced swimmers in serious danger. Elsewhere, keep an eye out for brightly coloured stones. While your dog might be more of a stick lover, as part of a game called ‘reservoir rocks’, walkers paint rocks at home and then reposition them back around the reservoir’s grounds for other walkers to spot. There’s even a hashtag, #ReservoirRocks, to prove it. If you want to rack up a few more miles to ensure someone snoozes until sunrise, cross the fields towards St Michael’s Church to link up with The Leeds Country Way–an epic 62-mile footpath around Leeds. Yes, 62 miles. Your dog will be quiet for ages.
Address & map: Leeds Waterfront, Leeds, LS10 1JQ
Dog-friendly days don’t need to start out of town. For an interesting riverside dog route, start at Leeds waterfront and follow the towpath west along the Leeds to Liverpool canal. The entire stretch spans a whopping 127-miles–it’s the UK’s longest canal built as one single waterway–but you can dip in (not literally) as much or as little as you like. Wide paths, frequent pubs, and fascinating examples of urban renewal, such as the once-derelict factories that now house the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, and The Tetley (a modern art gallery), create a route that’s easy underfoot and never gets dull. Dogs love the water and the water life, as well as the attention from passers-by on barges. It’s also a popular route with cyclists, so it’s best to keep your dog on the lead, particularly in sections with tight corners. We’re head over heels about this dog-friendly walk…just not physically, we hope.
7. Paddlin Paws
Address & map: 29b Southgate, Pontefract WF8 1LN
Wet dog isn’t often something you’d choose to happen–we’re looking at you, stale ditch water. But Paddlin Paws is different. This purpose-built hydrotherapy pool for dogs offers swimming lessons and workouts to help dogs recover from injuries (such as a limp or arthritis), improve their strength, or simply have fun. All without an owner screaming when they shake their fur next to our clean-on jeans. Here, dogs can use the same buoyancy aids as nervous human swimmers; as they grow in confidence, the team will activate the pool’s hydro-jets to create extra resistance. While your dog is in its aqua aerobics class (we swear they get more like humans every day), you can interact by throwing a ball for them, or simply sit back with a coffee and watch their doggy paddle.
With all these dog-friendly attractions on offer, there’s nothing like a full day’s fun with your dog. But we also understand that time and work commitments sometimes make that tricky. That’s what Rover.com is designed for. Rover’s Leeds-based dog sitters and walkers are primed to step in when you can’t, making your dog feel happy, confident, and well-exercised. Bonus: they really, really love dogs.