Covering an area of 823 square miles which includes 74 miles of coastline and 28,000 acres of woodland, Snowdonia National Park is made for dogs.
Many of the shops, pubs, hotels and other businesses in Snowdonia welcome dogs. With 1497 miles of footpaths to explore Snowdonia might be the best place in the UK to walk your four legged friend.
Our top dog walks around Snowdonia National Park
With so much space and so many miles of footpaths, the potential for dog walks is almost limitless. Here are a few of the best dog-friendly walks...
1. Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr)
With a relatively flat and smooth footpath, this is a great choice of walk if you don't like hills.
The walk starts in the woodland and follows the Afon Rhaedr-Fawr River upstream to the mighty 37-metre-high waterfalls of Aber Falls. This is particularly impressive during or after heavy rain when the thundering power of the waterfall is at its best.
There are also fantastic views of Anglesea and the Menai Straight. There are plenty of picnic spots so is perfect for families with young children.
2. Llyn Elsi - Betws-y-Coed
The forest around Betws-y-Coed is enchanting, and a walk to the Llyn Elsi Lake has to be the highlight. Take the Jubilee Path, and you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the river Conwy. You can take your dog off the lead and give them the freedom to run without having to worry about farm animals.
A there-and-back walk is the shortest, but there are multiple options to extend the walk and make it circular. The Afon Llugwy River extension passes some particularly beautiful scenery especially when you cross the Miners Bridge to the west of the village and walk back along the banks of the river. You can even extend the walk to Swallow Falls for a full day out.
Finish with a coffee or ice cream in Betws-y-Coed for a day to remember with your four-legged friend.
3. Harlech Beach (& Castle)
There are 23 beaches where dogs are allowed in Gwynedd, so there are plenty to choose from.
Harlech Beach is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in North Wales and overlooks Cardigan Bay. At 4 miles long, it has more than enough space to take your dog off the lead and let them run off all that energy.
The 13th Century fortress of Harlech Castle lies just 1km from the beach, and dogs on leads are welcome on the ground floor.
4. Newbrough National Nature Reserve and Forest
Much of the beach is dog friendly, and the walking and cycling trails through the red squirrel reserve of Newborough Forest are open to dogs year round.
Use the car park in the forest and walk to Ynys Llanddwyn Island. Once you arrive, you will see a lighthouse, stunning views of the mountains and the ruins of the ancient church dedicated to Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers in Wales
Be aware that the island is tidal so check the tide times first.
5. Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and has become a popular dog walking destination.
Your dog will have to be fit and the best route for dogs is the Llanberis Path.
If your dog isn't too small and doesn't pull on the lead it is possible to do the other footpaths such as the PYG Track or Snowdon Ranger Path but the steep sections and cyclists can be hazardous.
Freya, our hardest working staff member, has been busy testing out all of the footpaths up Snowdon as well as many more to ensure they are dog friendly. As she is a working breed she copes well with the long day and long trek up Snowdon but if it's hot she stays at home. I remember taking her up Snowdon for the first time and how well behaved she was and how much she loved it! She definitely had a smile on her face that day.
Get in touch, tell us your breed of dog and how active they are and we will plan a dog friendly day to remember on one of our Private Guided Walks.
What should dog owners know before walking their dog in Snowdonia?
Dog owners should respect signs, be mindful towards other visitors and be aware of the following...
Under the Dogs Act 1953 (Protection of Livestock) it is an offence to allow your dog to attack or chase livestock. A farmer may legally shoot any dog that is behaving in this way.
On 'Access Land' or 'Open Access Land' you must ensure your dog is on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July to protect livestock and ground nesting birds. They must be under effective control the rest of the year.
On 'Public Rights of Way' your dog does not need to be on a lead, only under 'close control'.
Dog faeces pose a significant threat to cattle as they can be infected with parasites.
You should pick up your dog's mess in a biodegradable bag and dispose of it appropriately.
Some beaches have restrictions in place and don't allow dogs in certain places. Check before you set off.
Dogs can overheat when the temperature exceeds 18°C. Remember that there is limited or no shade in the mountains so it will be difficult to cool your dog down.
Unless you have been told otherwise by your vet, it is not appropriate to take puppies on long walks.
Can dogs go anywhere around the National Park?
There is a wealth of places dogs can go in Snowdonia National Park which includes 1497 miles of footpath and all of the 'access land' which comprises much of the National Park.
Some of the land in Snowdonia is privately owned and without access to the public.
Snowdonia caters for outdoor enthusiasts so many of the shops, restaurants, cafe's, pubs and hotels welcome muddy boots as well as muddy paws.
What should you do if you encounter cattle and other animals?
Cattle are not usually aggressive however there are exceptions to this rule. Walkers have been attacked and sometimes killed by cattle. This is more likely if you have a dog with you and even more likely if the cows are with young calves due to their protective instincts. This is usually in the spring so be extra vigilant at this time.
Cows cause around 5 deaths a year making them the deadliest large mammal in the UK
To stay safe follow this advice:
Be vigilant for cows when entering a field, make them aware of your presence and see how they react
Avoid cattle with young calfs
If you do find yourself in a field with cows move quickly and quietly away and avoid sudden movement and keep your dog on a short lead
Don't hang onto the lead if you are threatened by cows. Release the lead as your dog can run quicker than you
If you're on a Public Right of Way that has cattle on it you are within you're rights to come off the path to find a safe route around them. You should re-join the Public Right of Way as soon as it is safe to do so.
Sheep are another animal you are likely to encounter in Snowdonia. Sheep aren't usually dangerous to humans or dogs but your dog can be dangerous to them so it is best to keep them on a short lead.
Book the perfect day out for you and your dog with us!
Tap into our knowledge of the area gained through thousands of hours walking our dogs in the National Park.
Let us plan a bespoke walk for you and your dog with our team here at Walk Snowdonia.
Frequently asked questions about dog-friendly walks in Snowdonia
Can dogs go on buses in Snowdonia?
Dogs are welcome on all of the Snowdon Sherpa Bus services.
Dogs are often allowed on buses in the Gwynedd and Conwy areas. There are a number of bus companies offering different services so check with the individual company first.
Can dogs go on the Welsh Highland Railways?
Well behaved dogs are permitted on the Welsh Highland Railway free of charge.
What is the dog story Snowdonia?
A short walk from the village of Beddgelert is 'Gelerts Grave' the resting place of Snowdonia's 'most faithful hound'.
Legend has it that one day the 13th Century prince of North Wales, Llewelyn the Great went hunting one day leaving Gelert, his loyal hound, to protect his baby son.
Upon his return Gelert joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince was alarmed to see Gelert covered in blood so frantically searched for his son. He found the infant's cot was empty with the bed linen and floor also covered in blood.
The angry prince plunged his sword into Gelert thinking he had killed his son and heir. Gelert's mortal yelp was answered by a child's cry.
Llewelyn discovered his boy unharmed. Nearby, was the lifeless body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain.
Realising that Gelert had, in fact saved the child, the prince was so filled with guilt and grief he was said to have never smiled again. The prince buried the 'loyal hound' nearby and Gelert's grave can be visited today. The name of the village, 'Beddgelert' translates into English as 'Gelert's grave' (bedd- grave).
Snowdonia National Park is a dog-friendly holiday destination. Make sure you follow the laws and obey the signs, and you and your dog will have a fantastic time as you explore Snowdonia.
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