Category: Poppy

Dog Walks in Buckinghamshire – BBOWT’s Dancersend Nature Reserve

On the last bank holiday in May, we eschewed the traditional lie in and headed out into the sunshine in search of wild orchids, gorgeous views and adventure. We were heading further afield to the BBOWT Dancersend reserve. Not only that, but we were planning on a circular walk that would incorporate part of the Ridgeway and Tring park, both of which were incredibly beautiful places worth a visit in their own right. We parked at the BBOWT car park next to the water works and headed up through the wood to the Ridgeway. We used this invaluable map on the BBOWT website for the 6.5 mile circular walk. A short walk through the village of Hastoe and we came to Tring Park, which was a really amazing space that I’d like to visit again.

Dancersend WalkRidgeway walkPoppy making friends Tring Park

Tring Park is managed by the Woodland Trust and it has an amazing history – it basically used to be someones garden! There are loads of things to see while you’re there, not only are there the amazing carvings like the one above, but insects, plants, spectacular views and cows and sheep. (The cows are in the field you walk through so please make sure they, you and your dog stay safe by keeping your dog on the lead.) When we got to the Natural History Museum, we didn’t head to the train station, but carried on heading to Dancersend. The map gets a bit tricky at this point (plus we got impatient and wanted to be the reserve!) but trust the map and you’ll get to the reserve.

Dancersend orchidCommon orchid Fly orchid at Dancersend

We were there quite early on orchid season and since then, the orchids have really bloomed. We spent quite a while looking for these little fellows and thanks to other people who had shared their Dancersend orchid findings on Twitter and Google images, we were able to spot and identify the orchids. The main reason we were there was the amazing fly orchid. I’ve never seen anything like it before! It was amazing and it’s made me a lot more interested in finding and identifying wildflowers. By this time, we were hot, exhausted and hungry. So after a few more hills and stiles, we made it back to the car park. A quick change of shoes and we were back in the car, heading for Hemel Hempstead. Phil had found a veggie cafe that looked perfect for a late lunch.

Veggie crepe

After finding a parking spot (which are recommended on the cafe website) we arrived at Woody’s cafe. We sat outside with Poppy and enjoyed the comings and goings of life on the canal. We both ordered the roast veg crepe, not quite sure what to expect and we were blown away! It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had and my mouth waters now when I think about it. It was the perfect lunch after our six mile walk. Not only that, but they do amazing cakes which you can take away – make sure you do as they are amazing!

The Walk: I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. It’s quite hilly (compared to what we’re used to) and despite proper walking boots and insoles, I managed to injure my knee. It was well worth it though, and despite my injury, I’m keen to keep extending our walks.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The BBOWT car park at the Water Works is quite small, but we got there early and had no trouble parking. There are others too, it just depends on where you want to start your walk. If you’re just visiting Dancersend reserve, then the Water Works car park is the one you want.
Refreshments: No. We didn’t go into Tring itself, but there are a few cafes in the town. We packed refreshments and there are plenty of spots to stop for a brew from your Thermos. Definitely head to Woody’s if you can.
Toilets: There are some in the Water Works car park, and while they’re perfectly fine, they are a little scary! There are no mod cons but they are useable.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Warburg Nature Reserve

It all started with a plan to try and find some early orchids. While Phil’s main focus is the birds, mine is flowers when we’re out and about. He had seen online about some early orchids at BBOWT’s Warburg Nature Reserve so a few weekends back, we headed there to see what we could see. Just outside Henley-on-Thames, Warburg is a lovely nature reserve, with a few different walks to do, depending on what you’ve got time for, two bird hides and plenty of plants and wildlife to practice your photography on.

Purple Orchid
BBOWT Warburg Purple Flower Warburg Poppydog at Warburg A Crafty Chai at WarburgWarburg Nature ReserveWarburg Bird HideBullfinchChaffinch Warburg Great Tit WarburgWarburg BirdsChaffinchFlying Chaffinch

We managed to spot an early purple orchid, thanks to the map at the visitor centre and some help via Google images. I was pretty pleased with our little find. I always imagine wild orchids to be as big as the ones we have at home, but the ones out during early spring are small so you really have to keep your eyes peeled. It’s well worth it because when you see one for yourself, it’s amazing!

We did the main circular walk, which takes less than an hour. There are open areas as well as woodland walks, which Poppy enjoyed. Then we spent quite a bit of time in the two bird hides, waiting patiently. We saw a bullfinch, a chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and many more. Between Phil and I, we managed to work out what the birds were using apps, binoculars and cameras. Thank goodness for technology, or we’d have no idea what we’d seen. It’s so hard to take pictures of birds with my camera, as they move quicker than I do.

We’ll definitely go back to Warburg Nature Reserve, though I’d like to walk there from Henley. Getting to the reserve isn’t easy, as it’s at the end of road in need of repair. The car park is also quite small so if you can walk there, it’s best to do so.

The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do around the reserve, depending on what you want to do. I would recommend making time for at least one of the bird hides, if you can.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The car park is small and free, though donations are welcome.
Refreshments: No.
Toilets: There are some in the visitor centre.

Dog walks in Oxfordshire – Farmoor Reservoir

I had high hopes for Farmoor Reservoir. Any walk near water is bound to be good right? Plus, if it’s big enough for sailing, it’s got to be a decent walk. The morning of our walk there was overcast and some rare birds had been sighted so we were really looking forward to it. I glanced at the website to double check that dogs were allowed, which they were as long as they’re kept on leads, so off we went. However, upon arrival, I noticed a restriction sign for dogs. Upon further inspection, dogs are only allowed on the Countryside Walk. Fine, I thought, that should be okay. But as we headed out on the walk, we noticed we were going in the opposite direction of the water. It turns out that dogs are not allowed anywhere near the reservoir. Not even on leads. Grrrrrrr! No rare bird sightings for us. Not only that, but the walk was really muddy and there was some kind of fly infestation that plagued us almost all the way around. I think I sulked for about half the walk, until we got the Thames and saw how beautiful it was.

Farmoor Wildlide walk Reservoir Sailing in Oxfordshire The Thames at Farmoor Wildlife Walk Dogwalk at Farmoor Farmoor Oxfordshire Farmoor Reservoir Farmoor Nature walk at Farmoor

The walk takes you away from the reservoir, along country roads. You pretty much cannot see any of the reservoir throughout the walk. However, there’s a really lovely wetland trail which is well worth visiting. We saw some nesting swans, a heron and some birds of prey. There was a bird hide, but it got burned down so there is restricted access here at the moment, which is a shame. It’s a great place for bird watching, even without the hide.

The final stretch of the walk takes you along the main road, which I really didn’t like and to be honest, it really put me off going there again. I’d happily go to the wetland trail again to do some bird watching but being kept away from the reservoir made me so angry that it’s unlikely that I’ll do the countryside walk again.

The Walk: As dogs are not allowed by the reservoir, the walk goes around the outside of the land owned by Thames Water. Not only that, it takes you out onto the main road and can be very muddy after heavy rainfall.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The car park is huge but not free. I think it costs about £3 when exiting.
Refreshments: No.
Toilets: There are some in the car park and these are the only ones in ‘dog allowed’ zone.

Dog Walks in Pembrokeshire – Newgale Beach

Newgale beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to and I think it’s become my favourite beach. If you get the tide time right, it’s huge. I use the My Tide Times app and it’s brilliant for ensuring you arrive at the right time for maximum beach walking. Once you get over the pebble bank at the back of the beach, there are miles of golden sands ready to be explored. It’s fairly flat so is easy to walk across, unless it’s blowing a gale, which can make it very difficult, especially if you’re a small black dog with giant ears!

Poppy Beach dog Newgale Beach Newgale Newgale Pembrokeshire Newgale Beach Pembs Breezy Newgale Poppy on Newgale Newgale Pebbles

When we visited, we had come from the direction of Broadhaven and stopped at the first car park we came to which has seasonal parking charges. They kicked in the next day so we parked for free. As we parked at the opposite end to the cafe we wanted to go to, the Sands cafe, we drove to the cafe once we’d finished our walk and parked in the cafe car park. It’s really small so if you can walk up from one of the other car parks, then do, but make sure you pop in for a bite to eat.

The Walk: Newgale beach is just under 2 miles long. It has a huge pebble bank at the back of the beach, which can be difficult to walk down so watch your step. Newgale does have seasonal dog restrictions. The middle third of the beach is out of bounds to dogs during the summer. Take a look at the Visit Pembrokeshire website for a map highlighting the restrictions. There’s still plenty of beach to enjoy despite the restriction.
Cost: Free
Car Park: There are three car parks and two have seasonal parking charges. Well worth it though.
Refreshments: There are two cafes, one at either end of the beach. Mum & I went to Sands cafe and enjoyed a delicious warming bowl of soup. It’s dog friendly too!
Toilets: Yes.