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.
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.
Car Park: The car park is huge but not free. I think it costs about £3 when exiting.
Toilets: There are some in the car park and these are the only ones in ‘dog allowed’ zone.
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!
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.
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!
A few weeks ago, over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, we headed out into the beautiful Oxfordshire sunshine to explore the Windrush Path and take a look at Standlake Common Nature Reserve. I’m no twitcher, but there is something amazing about rare, strange and beautiful birds as well as common butterflies and glorious spring blossom.
We set out quite early and parked in the Rose Revived pub car park. We crossed the road and headed out across the footpath that takes in part of the Mosaic Trail. We heard the woodpecker you can almost make out hiding in the tree below. It was so difficult to take a picture of it, hence my not so great attempt here. I’d never seen one before, but have now seen quite a few.
As part of the Mosaic Trail, there’s a picnic area with tables at the Dragonfly post. Not far from here is Standlake Common Nature Reserve, which has two bird hides. Unfortunately, the hides are locked and you have to get a key from the Reserve office. Fortunately, a kind stranger already had a key and let Phil in to take a look at a rare bird (I forget which one) while Poppy and I explored the area outside.
The weather was absolutely glorious and by the time we got back to the pub, we were ready for lunch. Despite the fact that the rest of Oxfordshire had appeared in the pub garden by that time, we found a little table by the river and ordered a few sandwiches. Even though the pub was busy, both inside and out, we didn’t have to wait long. The food was outstanding and I’m looking forward for a return visit.
The Newbridge to Standlake walk is brilliant. The fact that there’s a pub at the end that’s dog friendly and serves great food makes it even better. This is one walk we’ll definitely be going back to.
The Walk: The Standlake to Newbridge walk is about 2 miles long. We didn’t go all the way to Standlake, but headed back towards Newbridge. It’s a nice circular walk taking in some very spectacular sights, including Standlake Common Nature Reserve.
Car Park: We parked at The Rose Revived at Newbridge. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do but we felt it was okay as we planned to return there for lunch, which was a great idea!
Refreshments: The Rose Revived was excellent and well worth a visit.
Toilets: The only ones we found were at The Rose Revived.
If there’s one thing that Pembrokeshire has in spades it’s beaches. Plus growing up there means that the sun doesn’t have to be shining for me to enjoy them! However, when I went to Broad Haven over Easter, I was lucky enough to get a few days of sunshine, even if there were gale force winds.
I hadn’t been to Broad Haven before so it was great to see what it was like before all the summer crowds get there. It’s a lovely beach with loads of rock pools at the edges for Poppy to sniff in, though she did try to eat a few sea anemones! That dog will try to eat anything!
If you get the tide right, you can beyond the rocks you see in the picture above. We didn’t when we visited because it was blowing a gale and I also wanted to walk on Newgale beach and had to pace Poppy a bit! Broad Haven is a beautiful beach and well worth a visit, even in winter.
The Walk: Broad Haven beach is gorgeous but to make the most of it, be sure to visit when the tide is out. There are dog restrictions on the northern part of the beach from 1st May to 30th September so be sure to check before heading out for your dog walk.
Car Park: There are two car parks in Broad Haven so make sure you have change for them.
Refreshments: There are a number of places to buy refreshments in Broad Haven itself and it’s just on the beach so you don’t need to go far for a brew.
Toilets: There are loos in the car park.