In Hampshire, you really aren’t short of beautiful places to take the woofer for an afternoon stroll. However, a personal favourite of mine has to be the stunning Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley Abbey.
Here you have everything you could want for a day out with your dog; woodland, grassy parkland, and beaches. There is an awesome 200 acres to explore, and with such a variety of scenery, you are sure to enjoy your day out with the dog. The park was opened to the public in 1970, after the hospital that gave the park its name was closed down. The only remaining part of the original building is a chapel which now is kept as a heritage centre so visitors can learn about the park's history, but also enjoy a great aerial view of the landscape and waters from its 150 feet tower. There is also a miniature railway which runs for around a mile around the park.
The park is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including birds of prey and native mammals. Deer are often spotted in the woodland, and of course there are the ever-charming ducks on the ponds (and we all know how much our dogs love to give fruitless chase!). For the ‘twitchers’ among you there is no shortage of wildlife in the skies over the park, and you can often spot a song thrush, or hear the thrum of the green woodpecker on your journey through the forest. There is also an impressive array of plant life to be seen. I have been lost for hours exploring the forest, finding a perch on a tree with a good book whilst the dog does his thing.
Dogs and families are more than welcome all year round. With expansive green open spaces, the opportunity to play fetch is abundant, and if foraging in the forest is more your four-legged friend's thing then there is plenty of opportunity for that too. Many dogs also enjoy a good old swim to cool down after a long walk, and the Solent is within the park's boundaries and makes a really pleasant end to a long day’s walk.
If you fancy sprinkling a little history into your walk, you can always visit the Netley Military Cemetery where 636 commonwealth service personnel from the First and Second World War are buried. And of course you can investigate the heritage centre too.
If you haven’t hired a car this holiday, the best part about the park is that it is in easy reach of Netley Abbey station with a well-signposted footpath leading you into the depths of the park. The Prince Consort is a great dog-friendly pub situated on the water in Netley that offers some great British pub grub and that all important drink (for you and the pooch) for after you have finished exploring the park.
So for a truly diverse dog friendly day out, head over to Netley’s Royal Victoria Country Park.