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Cool stops for hot dogs!

Whether you are chilling in Cornwall or setting off to Scotland there is sure to be a Forestry Commission wood enroute where your four legged friend can have fun and cool off.

Collie dog bounding through heather with a stick.A walk in the cool shade under the trees will cool your dog and the rest of the family down before the next leg of your journey. Here is a ‘Ruff’ Guide to the best places to break up long motorway journeys and give your pooch (and your family) a greener breather!

 Haldon Forest Park

If you are heading to Devon or Cornwall why not take a break at Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter. The park is close to the end of the M5 and just off the A38  - a major route to Cornwall. The dog friendly park has a range of walking trails and a Canine Corner notice board with news and information for dog walkers.

 Dymock Woods

Before you cross the border to Wales have a breather at Dymock Woods. The M50 bisects this wood and two minor roads allow access through the woods from the motorway junction 3. Take the B4221 towards Kilcot and then follow signs towards Kempley. This road will take you through the woods. Nearest railway stations are at Ledbury or Gloucester.

 Sherwood Pines Forest Park

Approximately 10 miles from junction 28 or 29 of the M1 Sherwood Pines Forest Park is the perfect place to stop with your dog. A variety of trails lead from the visitor centre around the forest and there is an adventure playground near the picnic site.

 Top Lodge Visitor Centre

The state-of-the-art Top Lodge Visitor Centre at Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire is just a few miles from the A1. Come off at the junction for Stamford and take the A43 towards Corby. The new visitor centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm. You can walk the new trails then refresh yourself at the Lodge Cafe, or browse in the RSPB shop and Craft Arches. Red kites can be seen most days throughout the year. Live footage from Red Kite nesting sites can be seen in the on site RSPB shop.

 Thetford Forest

Trips to North Norfolk or the Broads or journeys to East Anglian ferry ports can be broken up with a stop at Thetford Forest. There are many places to stop off in the large forest park – a patchwork of pines, healthland and broadleaved trees.

 Thames Chase Community Forest

If you find yourself stuck on the M25 have a break while the traffic calms down at one of the nine Thames Chase Community Forest sites, close to junctions 28,29 and 30. Also close to London is  Jeskyns Community Woodland just of the A2 near Gravesend in Kent. There is plenty of space for a run around and also a pond where dog swimming is permitted.

 The New Forest

The New Forest is just at the end of the M27. The Bolton Bench car park is situated on the edge of Lyndhurst, this car park provides a sunny, grassy location within strolling distance of the High Street, New Forest Museum and the New Forest itself. Bolton's Bench is a popular place to explore both Forest and village. Don't forget to give a donation at this car park towards the management of the Forest!

 Delamere Forest Park

Delamere Forest Park is situated approximately 10 miles from the outskirts of Chester and close to the M56. The Forest Park and Visitor centre are well sign posted from the A54, A556, and B5152. Delamere Forest Park is Cheshire's largest area of woodland and is a great place for families to let off steam, escape the crowds and find peace in the heart of the forest.

 Alice Holt Woodland Park

Within 10 miles of junction five of the M3 Alice Holt Woodland Park. Alice Holt Woodland Park near Farnham is an ideal place for a walk in the woods. You can follow the waymarked trails or walk your own routes. A map of the wood is available at the Visitor Centre.

 Hamsterley Forest

Hamsterley Forest in North East England is close to Bishop Auckland, County Durham and easily accessible from the A68 and the A66. Visitors to Hamsterley have no shortage of options when it comes to activities with waymarked walks, cycle routes and horse riding trails, all levels of fitness and ability are catered for.

And remember...

Follow these rules to make sure your dog is safe this summer


  • Consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you don’t have air conditioning in your car. Think about whether the journey for your dog is absolutely necessary.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of space in the car and isn’t squashed or forced to sit in direct sunlight.
  • Always make sure there is shade provided, even in an air conditioned car a dog can become too hot if in full sun.
  • Make sure plenty of stops are taken with lots of water available to drink.
  • Take cold water in a thermos rather than a plastic bottle so it stays cold rather than becoming lukewarm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos for cooling too.


  • Leave a dog unattended in a car, even with the window open and water available. Take them out of the car and leave them in a secure, cool place with access to shade and water.
  • Let your dog take part in unnecessary exertion, or stand in exposed sunlight for extended lengths of time.
  • Pass by a dog if you see one suffering in a car. Whether it be in a supermarket car park or show, make sure you make someone in authority know and if in doubt call the police or the RSPCA on 0870 55 55 999
Last updated: 14th December 2017

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