Visiting Ashridge with your dog
Ashridge is a popular place for dog walking. There are visitors of all kinds here: some on foot, some on wheels and some on horseback. So we ask those of you bringing your four-legged friends to follow our guidance and help us keep Ashridge special for everyone.
Sheep grazing on Ivinghoe Hills
There are currently 300 sheep grazing on Ivinghoe Hills. Please follow signage and keep your dog on a lead at all times, even if you cannot see sheep in your immediate area. For more information see further down this page.
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.
Our pawprint rating system
We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged-friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.
Ashridge is a two pawprint rated place.
These places have water bowls, dog bins and dog-friendly walks. You’ll be able to take your dog into some areas, but not everywhere. If there’s a food and beverage outlet, you can have a cup of tea with them, probably outside. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.
What do I need to be aware of at Ashridge?
Wild deer can be seen anywhere and at any time on the estate. It's therefore vital that you can control your dog if it’s off the lead. When dogs chase deer, the consequences can be very serious. Apart from the stress and suffering to the deer, there's the risk of road traffic accidents that could injure the deer, your dog and the driver.
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
Bird nesting season (1 March to 31 July)
It’s the law that all dogs on common or access land are on leads during the bird nesting season, which runs from 1 March to 31 July each year. Dogs running through long grass will harm ground-nesting birds and their chicks.
There are several areas of the estate where cattle and sheep graze. Please adhere to any notices relating to livestock in these areas, give the animals plenty of space and keep your dog on a short lead.
There is a large network of public and permitted bridleways across the estate. When passing horse riders, please keep your dog under close control and give horses plenty of space.
Walking your dog on Ivinghoe Hills
November - December 2023
There are currently 300 sheep grazing Ivinghoe Hills in various areas. Conservation grazing is an extensively used method of keeping grass at an optimum height for plants and wildlife.
Pay attention to signage
Please be aware that the sheep are likely to be in and around the car park, including on the road and it is important to pay attention to signage which will be updated as the sheep move around different areas.
Keep dogs on leads
It is vital that dogs are kept on short leads at all times when in areas where there are sheep, even if you can't see them. Due to the large areas with undulating terrain, it is possible you may not be able to spot any sheep at first glance and you may come across them suddenly and without warning. If you wish to walk your dog off lead then check signage and please make your way to an area where there are no sheep grazing.
Responsible dog ownership
Please clear up after your dog and dispose of the waste in a bin. Dog waste can change the nutrient make up of soil changing the plants that are able to survive there. This can be detrimental to habitats such as Ivinghoe Beacon. Discarded dog bags can also be eaten by livestock causing severe injury or worse.
Thank you for your support and for helping to look after Ashridge Estate
Professional dog walkers
The maximum number of dogs that you can walk on the estate is six, if they are all well trained, known to the person walking them and are under close control. If the dogs are young, less well trained or unfamiliar with the person walking them, a smaller number would be appropriate.
Facilities for my dog
There are water bowls near the entrance to the visitor centre, and five dog bins along Monument Drive and around the visitor centre for you to use. On the wider estate, we ask you to take your dog waste home with you.
Discover the best places for a dog walk, from coastal adventures and dramatic mountains to more leisurely walks near you. Plus find information on dog-friendly cafés and read our Canine Code.
If you’re bringing your dog to the places we care for, here’s information on the Canine Code and pawprint rating system to plan your visit.
We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade to create the Dogs Welcome project, helping you and your dog to get the most out of the places in our care.
Plan your visit with this map of Ashridge Estate
The fallow deer are an integral part of the landscape at Ashridge and a much-loved feature of this historic estate. Find out about their history here and how we manage them.
Ashridge has over 80 miles of pathways 5,000 acres of woodland, from the windmill to Bridgewater Monument and panoramic views of the estate, there’s lots to explore at Ashridge Estate.
Ashridge has over 80 miles of pathways to explore, on foot, on bike and on horseback.
There's nothing better than bringing your four-legged friend with you on a day out – they are part of the family after all. Take a look at which places are perfect for their next walkies.