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Visiting the Lake District with your dog

Visitors walk a dog across the leafy ground of a park in autumn
Autumnal dog walks | © National Trust Images/Stewart Smith

Whether you love a long hike through the high fells, a gentle stroll along a lake shore, or perhaps just a place to settle down and enjoy the view with a cuppa, the Lake District provides ample opportunity for you and your dog. It also home to around 3 million sheep and important wildlife.

Livestock and wildlife

While lambing season in some parts of the country can be over before Easter, in the Lakeland fells, hardy native breeds like Herdwicks will lamb in April and May.

This is also a time of year when ground nesting birds such as curlew, lapwing, snipe and grouse are sitting on eggs or rearing chicks. These birds blend into their environment, so you probably won’t spot them until they have already been disturbed from their nest.

Help us look after the places you and your dog enjoy by following these simple guidelines below.

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.
Walkers and their dogs at Blea Tarn in Eskdale and Duddon Valley, Lake District
Walkers and their dogs at Blea Tarn in Eskdale and Duddon Valley, Lake District | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

'There’s nothing worse than seeing your dog respond, often unexpectedly, by chasing after sheep, cattle or wildlife; and being powerless to stop them. We need to share the responsibility of caring for this special landscape. I find it really helpful when someone lets me know there are sheep or cattle, or if they have been lucky enough to spot a nesting curlew. Those of us who love walking our dog in this beautiful place also want to help protect it, and by sharing what’s around the corner can all do our bit.'

- Jess Darwin, ranger for Grasmere

Some recommendations for dog walks

Windermere West Shore walk
This is a wonderful linear low-level lakeshore walk, through woodland and parkland. It features great views of the islands of Windermere, interesting woodland archaeology and the Victorian Gothic Wray Castle.Find out more about Windermere West Shore
Octavia Hill walk at Brandelhow Park, Derwent Water
This is an easy lakeside amble along the quiet side of Derwent Water, leading you through the tranquil parkland at Brandelhow, birthplace of the National Trust in the Lake District.Visit Derwent Water
Two Herdwick sheep sitting in the grass with Wastwater and the surrounding mountains in the background on a spring day

Discover more in the Lake District

Home of Beatrix Potter, dramatic landscapes and fascinating history.

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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