Responsible dog walking on Dunstable Downs
Dunstable Downs is an amazing place for dog-walking but we must all be aware of the responsibilties attached to walking a dog in open countryside.
Dunstable Downs Dog-friendly Policy
The National Trust works hard to make sure that everyone is made welcome. Dunstable Downs welcomes thousands of dogs and their owners every year.
However many of these people have felt unwelcome in the past because they have not been able to access our restaurant facilities. We have consulted with Bedfordshire Environmental Health who have supplied us with advice regarding how to provide a dog friendly café and maintain the highest standards of food hygiene. We have made sure that we follow this advice closely and were delighted to be able to open our new dog friendly area in September 2018. The positive response to the changes has been immense.
We have received negative feedback from a very small number of people who we would like reassure that the new arrangements concur with H&S regulations. We have also received feedback from visitors who do not like dogs and would prefer not to share their café experience with other people’s dogs.
We have listened to this feedback and would like to improve the non-dog walker’s area; with this in mind we will be building a fenced area for our four-legged friends in order to create a more defined area of separation.
We have also made adjustments to the location of the dog walker area so that visitors who would like to sit closer to the shop area will be able to do so.
We all love our dogs and enjoy taking them for a walk in beautiful open countryside but did you know that there are good reasons why it is necessary to keep them on a lead?
Spring is a particularly important time to keep your dogs under control on Dunstable Downs because we have ground-nesting skylarks here.
Skylarks are vulnerable and in decline so we are very careful to keep their habitat safe and make sure they are not disturbed. If they are, whilst they are nest-building, they may not continue and, unless they find somewhere else to try, it is possible they may not have chicks this season. So their decline could continue.
You are probable aware that we have tenant farmers on the Downs and in spring they have sheep with young lambs browsing the hillsides. Very few dogs can resist chasing sheep which could possibly result in the sheep being harmed or even killed - no one wants that!
So you can see why it is so important that your dog is kept under control whilst up on the Downs - he/she will still have a wonderful walk and you will be relaxed and happy.
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