Em-bark on a dog-friendly walk with the National Trust

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Monday 22 February is National Walking the Dog Day so pull on your walking shoes, pop your dog on a lead and head out for a stroll at a National Trust place near you…

Please remember to follow the latest government guidance, stay local and exercise close to home.

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll understand the importance of daily walks with your four-legged friend. Not only does it help to solidify that all-important bond between pet and owner, but it allows your dog to mix with other people and pets in different environments, ensuring they are well socialised and better behaved.

And in case exercise and happy pouch wasn’t motivation enough, it has also been shown that spending time in nature make us feel happier, providing strong emotional and wellbeing benefits.[1]

From the open countryside, to lush parkland and rugged coastlines, conservation charity National Trust looks after incredible landscapes that you and your dog can explore.

In return, the charity is asking dog walkers to keep the countryside a safe, healthy and enjoyable place for everyone.

They’ve teamed up with Forthglade to create the Canine Code, so you and your four-legged friend can help care for the places you love.

Take the lead: help reduce the chance of your pup disturbing wildlife by keeping them on a lead.

Scoop that poop: bag it and bin it to keep your favourite places beautiful.

Paws for thought: look out for information signs and take extra care on cliff paths.

Be on the ball: not everyone loves dogs, so keep them close by.

Top dog-friendly walks

Please remember to follow the latest government guidance, stay local and exercise close to home.

Portstewart Strand – miles of sand backed by ancient dunes make this a magical spot for a doggy dip in the sea and dig in the sand. Portstewart Strand is the start point for the 33-mile long Causeway Coast Way to Ballycastle. If you fancy a shorter walk you can choose between walks along the strand or a two-mile long circular route in the dunes.

Beach open daily, booking not required. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/portstewart-strand for details.

Murlough National Nature Reserve – explore the beauty of Murlough NNR with the three-mile North Point trail to discover the history, biology and conservation of this special place. Please keep your dog on a lead to avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging the reserve.

Grounds open daily, booking not required. Car park is play and display. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/murlough for details.

Giant’s Ring Trail, Minnowburn – starting and ending at Minnowburn car park, the Giant’s Ring Trail is a wonderful place to reconnect your dog with nature on the edge of Belfast. It is an energising walk for dogs and humans alike, along riverbanks, over stiles and through meadows to discover the impressive ancient earth henge of the famous Giant’s Ring. The trail will lead you to Sandpit Field, a marvellous natural amphitheatre that was carved by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age.

Grounds open daily, booking not required. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/minnowburn for details.

Castle Ward Boundary Trail – this eight-mile trail takes in some stunning sights around Castle Ward. Start at the shore of Strangford Lough and follow the trail up to Audley’s Castle, from here you’ll cross mature woodland and farmland, though the historic grounds of Windmill Plantation and across the deer park before finishing in the old farmyard. Head up to the courtyard afterwards for take-away refreshments from the tea-room.

Pre-booking recommended to avoid disappointment. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward for details.

Castle Coole Lake Trail – take a pleasant, gentle walk around tranquil Lough Coole, spotting wildlife and glimpses of the mansion house on the way. Take your time to enjoy the sights and sniff out the scents along the way as you pass through the site of the original Queen Anne House before reaching the shore of the Lough.

Grounds open daily, booking not required. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-coole for details.

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