|When I got my Portuguese Water Dog, Figo, I had visions of many wonderful walks, with him trotting happily behind, as we explored the magnificent countryside that Buckinghamshire has to offer. However, the reality was that I tended to stick to a familiar selection of tried and tested locations for our daily walk. Walking a dog involves a unique set of considerations and trying out new walks in unfamiliar places, without really knowing where you are going, can be time-consuming and often disappointing. So after much poring over local maps, a large amount of trial and error and many muddy miles, this book was born!
Its aim is to provide dog walkers with a collection of inspirational, dog-friendly walks in Buckinghamshire. Each walk is carefully researched with the needs of both humans and dogs in mind. My guiding principles for the best Bucks dog walks were:
Many of the walks are stile-free, however for those walks where stiles must be negotiated, medium to large agile dogs will have no difficulty, as they are either open enough for dogs to scramble through, have a lift-up dog board or can be bypassed using an adjacent gate.
- Delightful and varied landscape, preferably with great views along the way
- Maximum safe, off-lead, free running time for the dog(s)
- Dog-friendly country pubs and cafes en route where possible
- Minimum road walking (on country lanes where unavoidable and no busy roads)
- Easy to follow circular routes
- Minimal exposure to livestock
Buckinghamshire’s farming heritage means that many of its footpaths criss-cross farmland, however I have endeavored to keep contact with livestock to a minimum. In addition, livestock has been re-introduced to much of the managed woodland and forestry with public access, as an integral part of its conservation and ecosystem preservation. This is particularly evident from spring to autumn when cattle are put out to pasture. Please read the notes overleaf for guidance on walking your dog near livestock.
Buckinghamshire is blessed with some of Britain’s loveliest countryside, which includes much of the Chilterns (a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the Vale of Aylesbury, a flat belt of Jurassic clay that lies between the Chilterns and the Cotswolds, interspersed with limestone hills. Several National Trails and Recreational Paths, including the Chiltern Way, the Ridgeway, the Thames Path and the Icknield Way, bisect the area and many of the walks incorporate sections of these celebrated routes. The area is also home to many wonderful country pubs and where possible, these are featured either en route or near the start point of the walks. As opening times are subject to change, I recommend you call ahead or check the website before planning a visit. I hope this book will provide you and your dog with many hours of inspiring and enjoyable walks together.