However many times they’ve been there, most dogs still go crazy for a sniff around the park. And in the summer, London’s green spaces are at their absolute best – full of flowers, people, and the odd leftover picnic titbit for your pooch to scarf down. But however much you love your local, it’s always good to branch out. So here’s our guide to the ten best parks in and around London, for you and your pup to explore.
1. VICTORIA PARK, HACKNEY
Spanning a sizeable 86 hectares, there’s enough room in east London’s Victoria Park to tire out even the bounciest of dogs. It’s the favourite spot of dog walkers across Hackney, and has several ponds, as well as the much-loved Pavilion Cafe – busy, but worth the queue. It’s on several bus routes, and within walking distance of Mile End and Bethnal Green tube. Thirsty walkers can stop off at one of several parks arranged around the park’s perimeter.
2. CRYSTAL PALACE PARK, CRYSTAL PALACE
Once a Victorian pleasure ground, this patch of green in south east London offers some great views over the city, and is a short walk from Crystal Palace or Penge West train station. Baffle your dog with the 160-ft maze, and make sure you don’t miss the dinosaurs – some of the last remnants of a prehistoric theme park past. If you’re ready for a longer wander, this is also a starting point for the Green Chain Walk.
3. SPRINGFIELD PARK, HACKNEY
While Springfield Park can’t quite claim to be an east London secret, it’s definitely on the lesser known end of the spectrum. A ten (ish) minute walk from Stoke Newington or Stamford Hill station, it’s quieter than many other green spaces in the area, and is well located for extended walks down the river and onto Hackney Marshes. On hot days, stop off for an iced coffee at the park’s Spark Cafe – located in a Grade II-listed mansion.
4. RICHMOND PARK, RICHMOND
This stretch of greenery in Richmond gained viral fame a few years ago, as the home to Fenton’s mad dash for freedom. Those tempting herds of deer still inhabit the park – which is worth bearing in mind for dogs that like to chase – but there’s 955 hectares of space to avoid them. Keep your eyes peeled for the park’s collection of listed buildings, and stop off at the Isabella Plantation, which is lined with evergreen azaleas. It’s a fair walk from Richmond Station, but there are several bus routes that’ll take you in the right direction.
5. WIMBLEDON COMMON, WIMBLEDON
Twenty minutes walk from Wimbledon tube sits Wimbledon Common – an extensive green patch that has its very own 200-year-old windmill. It’s mostly flat around here, making it a good choice for dogs that prefer a gentle wander. If you want to walk a bit further, it also connects to the equally spacious Putney Lower Common and Putney Heath. Wildlife enthusiasts can expect plenty to spot, and hot dogs can cool off in one of nine lakes – which have been opened to pooches for the summer.
6. PAINSHILL PARK, COBHAM
Located just outside London, Painshill Park is like stepping into the gardens of a grand house (it was originally an 18th century landscape park). It’s one of the few places near London that boasts a crystal grotto – dogs aren’t allowed, so bring a friend to hold them while you explore – and also features several follies including a gothic temple, tower, and a waterwheel. There’s an entrance fee, and you’ll need a car to get there, but it’s worth it for a taste of fancy country living.
7. VALENTINE’S PARK, ILFORD
If you want to travel a little further afield, Valentine’s Park has a set of beautiful historic gardens to explore. It’s home to a Grade II-listed country home (no dogs allowed inside though), and has woodland, and several water features including the tree-lined Long Water. Head to Gants Hill tube to get there, which is a five minute walk away.
8. CRANE PARK, TWICKENHAM
Once home to gunpowder mills, Crane Park is now a charming mish-mash of trees, ponds, ditches and reeds – filled with herons, kingfishers and water voles. Its original Shot Tower, once used as a windmill, has been preserved and turned into a visitor centre. The park is a twenty minute walk from Whitton rail station, and offers 30 hectares of greenery for dogs and humans to stretch their legs.
9. RIVER LEE COUNTRY PARK, ENFIELD
There’s 100 acres to wander through at River Lee Country Park, which winds from London through to Essex and Hertfordshire. Its most exciting feature is probably the 500-metre dog agility course – a chance for mutts dreaming of Crufts to try out the jumps, hoops and high walks. Best accessed by car, there are several car parks to start your journey at depending on where you want to go.
10. ALEXANDRA PALACE AND PARK, ALEXANDRA PALACE
It’s one of London’s most impressive buildings – conveniently located within walking distance of the tube – but it’s also set in 196 acres of carefully maintained parkland. Head to the top to admire the palace up close and enjoy views over London, before exploring the surrounding woods, rose garden, and boating lake.
Do you have a favourite London park where your pooch loves to roam? Tell us in the comments below!