Hainault Forest Country Park is one of the best green areas in London for dog walking. It is extremely dog-friendly and will meet lots of other dog walkers while you are there.
It is a great space for the whole family to explore. Towards the Woodland Trust part of the forest, there is a petting zoo for kids to enjoy, which is not dog friendly inside but you can stand by the fence and still see most things.
The forest also has a particular trail called ‘Woodhenge’ which features lots of gothic-style wood carvings from local artists. The carvings are supposed to represent life cycles of the creatures of the forest, but some are quite creepy! We often practice ‘Parkour’ with our dog using some of the more sturdy carvings!
The Park has open plain spaces with lots of long grass for dogs to jump around in but also has nature trails in the woodland areas to explore.
Near the Woodland Trust open space, there is also a small family run cafe where you can sit outside with your dog. Dogs are not allowed inside.
Hainault Forest sits on the London/Essex border but is a smaller and more convenient walk than trekking all the way to Epping Forest, if you want an open space to walk your dog near London.
Keep your dog on the lead if they do not have good recall because there are often horse-riders using the Forest too, be aware if your dog likes to chase/bark!
There is free parking at the Common Car Park and Camelot Car Park. From the Common Car Park, there is a pub called ‘The Two Brewers’ just over the road which is extremely dog friendly inside and out. If you park in the Camelot Car Park there is a Miller & Carter pub called ‘The Camelot’ which is directly across the road to eat/drink at after. There is a lovely open space at The Camelot to sit outside in the sun where you can also eat.
Opening times for Hainault Forest car parks vary with the season so check before you go!