15 Delightful Dog Walks in Durham

Dog Walks

County Durham holds many rich and rare treasures of the British Isles, both natural and man-made. From the magnificent cathedral in the county town of Durham, many castles and the exquisite roman fort showcase the history of the area and human ingenuity. Meanwhile, natural wonders such as the spectacular High Force, Britain’s largest waterfall, are sure to draw you into the countryside.

Whether you wander the town or country, there are many places you can visit with your dog. The pair of you are sure to enjoy the exercise of a long walk and all the interesting surroundings you’ll find wherever you go dog walking in Durham.

As with any walk with your canine companion, remember to be courteous to others and follow typical etiquette. Put your pup on a lead near livestock, roads, or other dangers, and always pick up after them.

We’ve collected some great ideas on where to go dog walking in Durham, so you and your pooch have the op-paw-tunity to explore many of the wonders that this county holds.

Country & Country Park Walks

Pow Hill

Pow Hill country park overlooks the Derwent Reservoir, which you will have picturesque views of as you take this walk. The park is set into beautiful moorland which transforms in the north to rare bog habitat. Meanwhile, in the conifer forest, you may see elusive and adorable red squirrels. As you can see, there’s a variety of landscapes in this gem of a country park. The stunning surroundings and easy walking make this a great spot for a dog walk or a picnic.

When you visit with your pooch in the summer, be sure to check for notices about ground-nesting birds as your pooch will need to be on a lead in those areas. They’re sure to enjoy the walk regardless, interested by the changing habitats and the different sights and smells of each. And if they need any more smelly stimulation, they’re sure to enjoy sitting with you in the boat shack cafe. There’s a dog-friendly section as well as the outdoor seating, which you might prefer using so you can enjoy the gorgeous views of the reservoir.

  • Walk Length: 5.6km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Pow Hill visitor centre
  • Terrain: Flat, even, trails
  • Free Parking: Yes - in Pow Hill car park
  • Address: Pow Hill Country Park, Edmundbyers, Consett, County Durham, DH8 9NU

More information: Durham PDF, Pow Hill Country Walk, North East Family Fun

Summerhill Country Park

Summer Country Park in Hartlepool is the perfect place for dog walking in Durham. It’s both a nature reserve and outdoor activity centre, so will suit any and all adventure levels. Your kids - and the kids at heart - will get a kick out of the BMX track, play parks and climbing boulders. While the more laid back amongst you can enjoy a leisurely walk with a stop to paw-se and reflect beside one of the several tranquil ponds.

There’s a cafe and other facilities on site. The entrance is just yards from a fantastic dog groomer, so if you’re local and your pooch needs a pampering, be sure to stop by. A short drive away is the 9 Anchors, a charming and quirky pub where you and your pup will be very happy. There’s dog bowls and treats so even your pooch can enjoy some bar snacks. The pub is practically on the beach, so you can have a short stroll along the front before returning home.

  • Walk Length: Various
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Main entrance
  • Terrain: Flat, even, trails, slopes
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Summerhill Country Park, Summerhill Lane, Hartlepool, TS25 4LL

More information: Summerhill, Hartlepool Information, Summerhill Country Park

Waldridge Fell

This country park has a long and varied history, from grazing land to military training ground, hunting park to mines. It’s been adapted to meet the needs of the people around it and now is a countryside haven for people and wildlife to thrive in. You and your pup will enjoy the peace of the area, the beauty of your surroundings, and open space to stretch your legs.

Another beautiful example of moorland and lowland heath, in summer the fields are a patchwork of lush green and purple. Due to ground-nesting birds, your dog will need to be on a lead in summer. Check for notices to find out more. If you’re lucky in summer, you may even find a shire horse out working and bracken bashing. This walk is especially exciting for wildlife enthusiasts as there are many rare species of plant, bird and insect that call the heath home.

Close by is Chester Le Street where you can find local amenities. Otherwise, bring a packed lunch to stop in one of the many picnic areas to take a spot of lunch with a magnificent view.

  • Walk Length: 1.6km to 8km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Car park (There are several)
  • Terrain: Flat, heathland, slopes
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Waldridge Fell Country Park, Waldridge, Chester Le Street, County Durham, DH2 3RY

More information: Waldridge Fell Walking Route, Durham PDF

Teesdale Way - Middleton Circular

This is a long walk so be sure you and your pooch have the legs for it! You’ll be using waymarked footpaths and taking in some of the most spectacular views in the county as you go dog walking through this section of the Teesdale Way. This makes it the perfect op-paw-tunity for you and your pooch to explore a challenging, but manageable, section of the 92-mile path.

Starting and finishing in Egglestone, you could take an hour or two to visit the beautiful Egglestone Abbey, where you and your pup can explore the charming ruins of the old monastery. Also within walking distance - and where the nearest facilities are - is Barnard Castle. Overlooking the river, this imposing and impressive castle still bears the crest of Richard III carved into the walls. Again, your dog is welcome to explore the castle with you. You’ll have a picturesque view of both landmarks on your return section of this walk.

Otherwise, the walk takes you through a variety of terrain and past plenty of interesting sights. You spend a lot of time following the river at the start, so be sure to wear good shoes and be mindful of floods if there’s been rain.

  • Walk Length: 21km
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Starting Point: Middleton bridge
  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, steps, becks, hills, fields, woods
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Bridge Street, Middleton In Teesdale, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 0QB

More information: Teesdale Way, Egglestone Abbey, Barnard Castle, Teesdale Way Walking Route

Staindrop

This leisurely stroll around the quaint villages and scenic countryside is sure to please both you and your pooch. This walk wanders into open fields regularly, so there are plenty of op-paw-tunities for your pup to have a run off the lead.

Walking through the villages here offers some of the most enchanting surroundings of any dog walk. Not only do you get expanses of beautiful open countryside, but the small villages you will wander through are largely made up of charming stone terraces and cottages, usually backed straight onto the fields. It’s also another opportunity to explore part of Teesdale.

If that isn’t quite enough walking and adventuring for one day, you could visit the nearby Raby Castle, the next walk on this list. It too is a great place to go dog walking. If you just need some refreshments after your walk you can visit the stables cafe at the castle or the nearby Wheatsheaf Inn.

  • Walk Length: 8km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Spar, Staindrop centre or St Mary’s Church
  • Terrain: Paths, fields, flat, even
  • Free Parking: No
  • Address: Staindrop, County Durham, DL2 3JN

More information: Staindrop Circular, Barnard Castle Dog Friendly Pubs

Raby Castle

Raby Castle and the surrounding gardens and park are a wonderful place to visit and walk, with or without your pup. The good news is that pooches are allowed throughout the gardens and estate and in the stables cafe. It’s a popular spot for dog walking in Durham, but be aware your pooch must be on a lead to protect the deer that live there. I doubt your dog will mind though, as they will still have an exciting walk, plenty to see and sniff, and then free treats at the cafe afterwards.

The castle ran guided dog walks throughout the summer of last year, and allowed people and pooches alike the chance to see some areas of the grounds not usually accessible to the public, as well as the chance to make new fur-iends. Hopefully, these make a return this year!

There are a variety of routes you can take around the grounds, and plenty of facilities on-site, so you and your pooch will be very well catered for however long you decide to stay for.

  • Walk Length: 3km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: M
  • Terrain: Flat, even, paths, fields
  • Free Parking: Yes (But paid admission to the grounds)
  • Address: Raby Castle, Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham, DL2 3AH

More information: Raby Dog Day Out Planning, Raby Castle, Walking Route

Stanhope

This short walk takes you through open fields and beside the River Wear, giving you a taste of the deep countryside and Weardale valley without venturing too far from town. This route also starts from the train station so you needn’t drive to explore the tranquil countryside here.

The route takes you from the station across the fields towards the river, where you’ll pass a small lane of adorable cottages. From there you can choose if you wish to follow the longer or shorter routes. Your pup might decide they’re going for a swim, so it might be advisable to bring a towel with you.

There is a chance you’ll come across cattle on this route, in which case, follow the normal protocol. Keep your dog under close control and if you feel threatened let the dog go and retreat a safe distance.

Towards the end of your walk as you return to Stanhope you’ll pass the castle and be able to pay a visit to the fossil tree by the market square. The tree grew some 320 million years ago when this area was bestriding the equator, a time and distance change so great it’s boggling to think about. It was brought from a local quarry and assembled as part of the church wall in Stanhope. Also in town is the Bonny Moorhen, a pub as lovely as its name, where you and your canine companion can paw-se to rest and refresh yourself after your walk.

  • Walk Length: 1.7 to 3km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Railway station
  • Terrain: Flat, fields, riverside
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Station Road, Stanhope, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL13 2YS

More information: This is Durham, The Fossil Tree, Discover Weardale

Woodland Walks

Hamsterley Forest

Stretching along the sides of the Wear and Tees valleys is Hamsterley forest, a woodland haven that attracts people of all ages to visit. This is the largest forest in the county and the perfect spot for woodland dog walking in Durham.

There are trails for all abilities so you’ll find a wonderful walk to suit whoever you’re with. Even if it is just you and the pooch, you can try a different route every time. If you’re visiting with little ones there is a great Gruffalo spotters trail and a Viking play area that’s sure to get them engaged with the outdoors. For your pup, the main attraction will probably be a long off-lead walk where they can sniff and explore the forest. They’ll probably appreciate the Spurlswood walk which is longer and quieter than most of the other trails.

There are many hidden gems in the forest, from the Green Man to waterfalls and the ruins of a coaching house. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you explore as you never know what you’ll find. If you need some refreshments after your walk you can stop by the forest cafe where you can treat yourself to some delicious homemade cake.

  • Walk Length: 2.5km to 7km
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Starting Point: Marked route start
  • Terrain: Woodland, uneven
  • Free Parking: No
  • Address: Bedburn, Hamsterley, DL13 3NL

More information: Hamsterley Forest, Forestry England PDF, Forestry England Hamsterley Forest

Low Burnhall

Just a stone’s throw from the city of Durham lies Low Burnhall, a pretty woodland with a mix of ancient forest, new planting, wildflower meadows and wetlands. It’s the perfect haven of tranquillity where you can relax and enjoy nature on a stroll between the trees. There’s plenty of space for your pooch to roam off lead and they’re sure to love scampering about the woods and racing through the open meadows.

On your traipse through the trees keep an eye out for the sculpture of the minor, sat contemplating and enjoying the gorgeous view of the countryside below. You too can take a seat with him and admire the surroundings.

Should you need to find somewhere for a pit stop, it’s a short drive to the Stonebridge Inn. A lovely dog-friendly country pub where you can settle down and enjoy a drink with your pooch.

  • Walk Length: 9km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Main entrance, car park
  • Terrain: Woodland, uneven, meadows
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: South Road, Durham, DH1 3TX

More information: Woodland Trust, Walk Trail

Beamish Woods

This circular walk through Beamish woods makes for a great stroll with your dog. However, we would recommend you and your pooch visit Beamish anyway for the many op-paw-tunities for dog-friendly days out.

Firstly, you can have your furry friend accompany you into the Beamish Living Museum, provided they stay on leads. Meanwhile, the nearby South Causey Inn runs a social dog walk for free once a month, where you and your pooch can enjoy a stroll through the surrounding countryside and make some new friends. (As well as enjoy a hot or cold drink after in the hotel bar or snug.) On your walk, you’ll also pass the shepherd and shepherdess inn, a cosy and friendly country pub that’s popular with walkers.

Although if you only have time for a stroll in this enchanting woodland, there’s still plenty to see as you go. While your pup is snuffling around, you can try to find the remains of historical life in the area, such as the old quarry or old once-thatched barn.

  • Walk Length: 4.8km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Eden Place picnic area car park
  • Terrain: Woodland, uneven, meadows
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Off the A693, Near the entrance to Beamish Museum, Stanley, County Durham, DH9 0RE

More information: Beamish Woods Circular Walk, Monthly Dog Walk by South Causey, Beamish

Waterside Walks

Low Force and High Force

No one could go walking in Durham and not pay a visit to the stunning waterfalls, Low Force and High Force. The waterfalls themselves, particularly High Force, looks like it belongs elsewhere in the world or on a film set and is not something you expect to find tucked away into the English countryside. It’s the largest and most spectacular waterfall in this country, and this walk will take you past both this and it’s smaller - but no less impressive - counterpart. You can also detour a few hundred metres from the visitor centre to visit a third waterfall, Summer Hill Force. Whichever you visit this is sure to be one of the most memorable dog walks in Durham.

This circular walk is mostly easy but is steep by High Force. You’ll start from the visitor centre where you can use the cafe and toilets, (dogs are allowed in the downstairs areas.) If you want to see High Force, there is a small charge. Otherwise, you can still enjoy this lovely walk with your pooch with wonderful views of the river and smaller falls.

Beware it can be very muddy, which your dog will no doubt love, so pack a towel. And may the Force(s) be with you!

  • Walk Length: 8km
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Starting Point: Bowlees visitor centre
  • Terrain: Mainly flat, trails, rocky, steps
  • Free Parking: Voluntary donation
  • Address: Bowlees, Newbiggin, County Durham, DL12 0XF

More information: Low and High Force Waterfalls, Low force to High force, This is Durham

Seaham

Set on Durham’s heritage coast is the only port in the whole county, the lively town of Seaham. It’s the perfect spot for unrestricted beach dog walking in Durham, but there are far more attractions for you and your pooch to enjoy too.

There’s plenty here for your whole family, with no need to leave the dog at home. You could walk along the cliffs for breathtaking views of the grassland and sea, or stroll down to the dog-friendly beach to race along the sand, go rock pooling, and search for pretty sea glass. There was once a glass factory nearby, so the beach is perfect to find a gorgeous “pebble” of smoothed glass.

In town, you can visit the Heritage and Lifeboat Centre to visit the lifeboat on display and learn about the maritime history of the area. It’s not the only historical focal point, as the church is one of the oldest in the country, and “Tommy” the WW1 statue is a popular landmark.

If you’d like to find a spot to paw-se for good food and great views, The Lookout cafe has both. The Crows Nest pub is also dog-friendly, and again, has lovely views of the beach. The Seaton Lane Inn is further in from the coast but very dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: Long or short as you please
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Seaham Hall beach car park
  • Terrain: Even, flat, paths (town) - beach, sand - grassland, hills (cliffs)
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Seaham, County Durham, SR7 7AF

More information: Durham Heritage Coast, Seaham Beach, This is Durham, Lifeboat centre

Durham City Waterside

No visit to County Durham is complete without visiting Durham city. You could take in the sights on an easy stroll through the streets with your pooch or you could take this waterside walk to avoid some of the hustle and bustle of the city but still visit the major landmarks.

The walkway along the river is surprisingly peaceful and a wonderful dog walking spot in Durham. You’ll see the castle and gorgeous Gothic cathedral as it overlooks you on your wander, whilst you might glimpse birds and rowers enjoying the water.

You’ll pass by Cafedral on your walk, and it’s well worth stopping here for the op-paw-tunity for you and your pooch to enjoy a good drink and delicious homemade snack. The nearby Court Inn is also in the shadows of the cathedral and is delightfully dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: 4.8km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Anywhere along the circuit
  • Terrain: Flat, even, paths
  • Free Parking: No
  • Address: Durham, DH1 3RW

More information: Durham Riverside Walk, This is Durham PDF, This is Durham, Tailster

Crimdon Beaches

There are two beaches here, South Beach and Park Beach, where your pup can race around on the sand and chasing the surf without a care in the world. There are no restrictions here so you and the pooch can enjoy a seaside stroll whenever you like.

The beaches here a typically quiet and backed by a caravan parks and a golf course. Once popular with holidaymakers, the beaches here are almost forgotten now. This really is a calm area with little but beach and a few picnic spots, making it the perfect place for a calm, uninterrupted dog walk by the sea.

However, you are only a short drive away from Hartlepool where you can find plenty of local amenities and a few more op-paw-tunities for a good walk for you and your dog to enjoy.

  • Walk Length: However long you’d like to stay
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Beach
  • Terrain: Flat, beach, sand, steep steps down to the beach
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Unnamed Road, Blackhall Colliery, Hartlepool, TS27 4DW

More information: Crimdon South, Crimdon Park

Hill Walks

Humber Hill

Once known as Cold Pig Hill, Humber Hill offers stunning panoramic views of the countryside and of Woodland Hall - home of Thomas White, the landscaper - and Colepike Hall.

This walk offers a rural retreat for you and your pooch to enjoy as well as a small hill to stretch your legs on. Your pup is sure to love the open countryside and abundance of plants and places to sniff. For their humans, there’s no shortage of interesting things either, as well as the beautiful views. You’ll pass by the old railway line and site of the viaduct, and the remains of Greencroft Hall. There are glimpses of these landmarks between trees and amidst open countryside that sit like gems in the crown of this circular walk.

If you take the short trip into Lanchester you can find the lovely Kaffeehaus Amadeus, an ode to Austrian cafes tucked away here in the North of England. They put out a water bowl for pooches so your pup can have a good drink while you order a coffee. You can also venture to Lanchester Garden Centre, which is itself a great spot for dog walking in Durham, and you and your pooch can mooch about the gorgeous gardens or have refreshments there.

  • Walk Length: 11.2km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Newbiggen Lane
  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, hills, fields
  • Free Parking: Yes
  • Address: Newbiggen Lane, Lanchester, Durham, County Durham, DH7 0PF

More information: This is Durham, Lanchester Garden Centre

More information about Durham: Dog Friendly Durham, Durham Walking Routes

More dog walks: Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lincoln, Essex