Visiting Dunstable Downs with your dog
Dunstable Downs is a great place for dogs and their owners, with miles of footpaths across the chalk grasslands to explore. Here’s all you need to know to make the most of your visit with your four-legged friend.
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.
Dunstable Downs 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.
Where can my dog go at Dunstable Downs?
Dogs are welcome in most areas of the estate. There are two clearly marked places where visitors are asked not to take their dogs: the ground-nesting birds and kite-flying areas. Please also keep your dog on a lead around the visitor centre and car parks.
Download a map of the estate to help plan your visit.
What do I need to be aware of at Dunstable Downs?
There may be livestock grazing on the estate when you visit, so please take extra care if you find yourself walking close to these animals. Give the livestock as much space as possible and keep your dog on a short lead.
Facilities available for my dog
There are water bowls outside the visitor centre, and three dog bins on site at the visitor centre, car park and Chute Wood.
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.
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
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.
After a good dog walk in the fresh air, find a place to sit and relax with your dog in a dog-friendly café.
Unearth the history at Dunstable Downs, with the Five Knolls Neolithic burial mounds and the extraordinary events that took place at Pascombe Pit.
Discover slow-worms and mini beasties on the chalk grasslands, look out for red kites or fly your own kite from the wind-swept ridge.
Enjoy stunning views and tempting treats in the café’s large indoor and outdoor seating areas. Discover seasonal and locally sourced gifts in the shop for a souvenir of your visit.
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.