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!
Despite living in Oxfordshire for quite a few years now, I had never been to Otmoor RSPB reserve before. If you’ve never heard it, it’s an excellent place for twitchers and nature nerds, like myself, to see lots of different birds and wildlife. There’s even a board in the carpark, where you can see what birds have been spotted recently. Make sure you bring your binoculars!
When we were driving there, it did feel like we were driving into the middle of nowhere, but when you finally arrive at Otmoor, it’s well worth it. One of the first things we saw when we got there, on a very cold Sunday morning, was a fox. It was sitting in a field, watching some birds, trying his luck. I’ve never seen a fox in the day before! Amazing!
Naturally, there are lots of birds to stop and look at but that means ample time for dogs to stop and sniff. Poppy loved being out in the countryside. There were so many different places for little critters to walk and live that Poppy wore herself out sniffing and exploring the grass.
We didn’t realise before we went that there are some restrictions for dogs on the reserve. It’s no big deal, as there’s plenty of things for dogs to sniff and explore. This time, we didn’t go the whole way round (it was way too cold and I needed a chai) but we’ll definitely go back. Maybe in the spring and we can spot different birds that are visiting.
The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do, including a circular walk. Take a look at the map on the RSPB website to plan your walk. Warning – You will need wellies, especially if it’s been raining before your visit! Also, there are some restrictions for dogs on the visitor trail and they aren’t allowed in the hide. It’s well signposted where they can and can’t go so no worries.
Car Park: Yes and it’s free.
Refreshments: No, but there are places to sit and enjoy the view, so pack up a thermos and a pack of biccies for a mid walk refreshment.
A few weekends ago, we decided to take Poppy into Oxford. We generally don’t walk her in busy places very often because it’s so difficult. Poppy tends to walk with her nose and therefore walks in a zigzag style. When it’s busy, it’s a bit like wrestling a pig rather than walking a dog! But we know we need to train her to walk better in busy places so off we went. And she was a star! She was really well behaved, patient when we went into shops & walked really well on the lead.
Oxford looks beautiful at most times of the year, but especially in autumn. We parked in Norham Gardens, headed along Parks Road and into town. After a bit of a mooch about, we headed towards Jericho. We stopped off at Companion cafe on Little Clarendon Street and then headed back to the car, just in time before it started raining!
The Walk: Oxford is such a beautiful city, there are loads of places to walk. We kept to the quieter streets, due to Poppy’s zigzag walking style!
Car Park: You can park in the Westgate carpark, but it costs a fortune. We parked in Norham Gardens, which is cheaper and nicer. Plus it’s right near University Parks. It’s £3 for two hours.
Refreshments: Oxford is full of lovely cafes. We sat outside Companion in Little Clarendon Street, as the tables are under cover and it’s a nice quiet street.
Toilets: There are some scattered around, but most cafes have them if you can sneak in!