Published: 14:00, 19 January 2016
Walkies! We’ve sniffed out some of the best – and some lesser-known – walks across the length and breadth of the county to take with your dog, so get out and about and explore Kent for free.
BETTESHANGER, NEAR DEAL
Start at Betteshanger Community Park car park for a gentle two-mile walk which dogs and their owners will both enjoy.
Take the footpath to the left hand side of the social club and follow it as it crosses open fields, with your dogs on leads as you turn right into Northbourne Recreation Ground.
Cross the rec diagonally and head for bottom left hand corner. Head across the minor farm road, following the footpath along the edge of the field to a kissing gate. Go through the gate, head left and follow the footpath to a chalk track. Take this track on as it swings round to the right. You will now have fine views across open fields to Sandwich Bay and, in the far distance, Pegwell Bay. When it bears round to right, continue straight ahead.
After a few hundred yards follow the track to the left and then along the fence line. Continue along the fence line until you reach a style on your left. Turn left onto a very short wooded path that leads to a gravel track and small lake. Turn left at the lake. Continue on the gravel path for about three quarters of a mile until you reach an unused minor road. Cross the road and continue on the gravel path across the community park and back to your car.
COBHAM PARK AND THE CUXTON HERITAGE TRAIL
Dig out the wellies for a muddy six-mile squelch on a circular walk from the cottage with looks like a major with a moustache at the gateway to Cobham Park over to Lady Darnley’s Toe Memorial and back.
With views of the beautiful North Downs valley stretching towards Cuxton, you’ll encounter some ramblers on your way, so have your lead at the ready.
This run takes about an hour or so, and is beautiful. Turn into a tree-covered wide path that eventually reaches a fork, and turn left where the path narrows, and head along Narnia-style trails. Once you reach a stile looking down on a path that leads down across a hill and up again, you’ve reached the Cuxton Heritage Walk. Turn right and the path loops up and to a beautiful bench at a spot called Brockles, carved with badgers other woodland creatures, commanding views over the Bush Valley, a former pretend air strip that lured in enemy fighters during the Second World War – perfect for a spot of cake and a flask of tea.
Turn left for another welcome bench – one of a number with lovely words inscribed – before climbing up the hill, past the memorial where Lady Darnley lost a digit and up to the gate that leads back into Cobham Park.
LEYBOURNE LAKES, NEAR AYLESFORD
Leybourne Lakes Country Park is a favourite with many walkers – with and without dogs.
The walk around the main lake is around 1.5 miles and dogs do need to stay on leads in some areas, mainly due to the large amount of wildlife.
Once you can go off the lead, there are many large open spaces and footpaths to follow. You can be treated to stunning views across both lakes and often a swan in flight too.
Dogs will love to run through the long grass and forage in the undergrowth and if your dog likes water, there are many places around the main lake where they can safely get in.
LONG ROCK, SWALECLIFFE, WHITSTABLE
Not perhaps a classic picture postcard coastal scene, Long Rock is flat and scrublike but has a sort of barren attraction to it.
Conservationists love it and have ensured it has protected status. It’s a great place for dog walkers. With a small promontory that pokes out from the coastline, offering a panoramic sea view on two sides of its triangle, your dogs may not take in the scenery, but you can.
Smaller dogs will be quickly submerged in the grass, but helpfully always in view. A winding brook snakes out towards Swalecliffe and is loved by bigger water-loving dogs, especially where it meets the sea at low tide.
You are spoilt for choice on which route you take: walk through a couple of rough paths, a concrete semi-circle (useful during wetter months) or stick to the shingle on the shore. You enter on one side via a skate park and the other a caravan site. Yet quickly you are in a primeval landscape, where a mammoth left his tusk 70,000 years ago – it was found in the 1930s.
Today, the woolly giant that died out in the last Ice Age has been replaced by creatures happy to find any old bone, but Long Rock still has a magical quality about it.
PALM BEACH, MARGATE
It’s a joy to watch as dogs run over the rocks, diving in and out of the surf as you stroll along Palm Bay beach.
You can head from Hodges Gap to the pumping station and when the tide is out, you can walk from Botany Bay to Margate and beyond.
Reach Hodges Gap from Northumberland Avenue in Cliftonville and park along the seafront. A green along the cliff tops leads to The Ridings, although don’t let your dog run near the edge! At the end of The Ridings, you come to the Botany Bay Hotel where you can take a pit stop.
Palm Beach makes for a peaceful walk which is tranquil and quiet on some days but wild and rough on others.
MOTE PARK, MAIDSTONE
Anyone with the 450-acre park on their doorstep is lucky, dog or no dog. There are too many walks to list and every visit can lead to a new route. A good pace to start is at the woods by the Willington Street entrance where your dog can forage around, exploring all the smells and noises, before powering on across the park. Alternately, take your time to complete a full lap of the large, picturesque lake, stopping at the weir bridge for a tentative doggie paddle.
With its inspiring scenery, particularly in the autumn when the canopy of trees near the park’s Mote Avenue entrance is stunning and also on an early spring morning when it’s peaceful and serene. This is a real dog-friendly park with a sense of community and belonging.
Here's some events coming up you can take your four-legged friend to.
PAWS AT THE CASTLE
Picturesque Hever Castle, near Tonbridge, will be bracing itself for another dog invasion. It takes place on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7 and features informative displays, loads of entertainment and a fun dog show.
For details go to www.hevercastle.co.uk
PAWS IN THE PARK
One of the biggest animal shows in the country, Paws in the Park features hundreds of events, competitions and displays. It all takes place at the Kent Showground, Detling, on Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18.
For details go to www.pawsinthepark.net