Your questions on dogs and access

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Can I walk my dog on the heaths?

Can I walk my dog on open access land?

Can I walk my dog on military training land?

Can I walk my clients’ dogs on the heaths?

What public rights of way can I use?


Can I walk my dog on the heaths?

Dogs are welcome on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, but it’s very important to keep to paths and keep them out of vegetation during the nesting season March to September and to follow any requests on signs. Following the Good dog guide will keep you on the right track.

Can I walk my dog on open access land?

Much of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area is open access land. These areas are clearly marked on Ordnance Survey maps and you have the right to roam on foot here. Read more in our article here.

Open access land can include farmland and areas with sensitive wildlife, so dogs must be walked on a short lead (less than 2m) at all times around livestock and at certain times of the year to protect ground-nesting birds.

On the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area we ask that people and dogs keep to main paths between March and September to protect the rare birds that are nesting on the ground. If your dog is under proper control, and with you on the path, this will reduce disturbance.

Can I walk my dog on military training land?

You can walk your dogs, but please follow the Byelaws and don’t enter firing ranges when the gates are locked and the red flags are flying.

Training dates are published monthly HERE (dates may be changed at short notice).

When you’re out with your dog please:

  • Keep to public rights of way and other designated access areas
  • Keep clear of any military training and abide by any temporary restrictions
  • Bag and remove dog waste
  • Listen to any directions given by military staff
  • Keep your dog on a lead, or on paths and in sight at all times
  • Help by not obstructing gateways with vehicles

There’s more information in the Ministry of Defence leaflet called Dog Walking on MOD Land.

Land owned by the Ministry of Defence for training is mapped as ‘managed access land’ and managed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

There are separate rules for commercial dog walkers, see below.

Can I walk my clients’ dogs on the heaths?

Commercial dog walkers need to have a licence to walk clients’ dogs on some areas of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area:

  • Horsell Common is privately owned common land, owned and managed by the Horsell Common Preservation Society. Please email info@horsellcommon.org.uk.
  • Commercial dog walkers must also obtain a licence to walk dogs on Ministry of Defence land. Please email SouthEastTPI@landmarc.mod.uk.

What public rights of way can I use?

On land other than open access and military training land, your right of access is restricted to:

  • Footpaths – for walking, running, mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs
  • Bridleways – for walking, running, horse riding, cycling, mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs (cyclists should give way to all other users)
  • Restricted byway – as for bridleway, but can also be used by horse-drawn carriages
  • Byways open to all traffic (BOATs)

These rights of ways are marked on Ordnance Survey maps and generally signed on the ground.

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