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Visiting Fontmell Down with your dog

Dog on a lead at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire
A dog being walked on a lead | © National Trust Images/John Miller

With plenty of ground to cover and views of an area of natural beauty, Fontmell Down is the ideal place to enjoy a circular walk with your four-legged friend. Find out where you can walk your dog and the things to be aware of when you visit Fontmell Down.

Where can my dog go?

There is now a circular walk for you and your dog to enjoy at Fontmell Down which allows off-lead exercise for your pet.

When you visit Fontmell, you'll see on-site notices highlighting the route for dog walkers. As long as you keep your dog under close control, they can now be off lead when exploring this marked route.

Ground-nesting birds

Please make sure that your dog is always on a short lead when you are not on the marked circular route. This is to protect ground-nesting birds like the skylark and meadow pipit.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.
A view across the rolling green countryside of Compton Down at Fontmell and Melbury Downs, Dorset

Discover more at Fontmell and Melbury Downs

Find out how to get to Fontmell and Melbury Downs, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

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