From the hipster hangouts of Shoreditch to the appropriately-named Isle of Dogs, East London has a lot to offer. This part of the city is often overlooked in favour of more central, touristy parts but whether you’re planning a day of sightseeing or are looking for a quiet pub to cosy up in, there are plenty of places for you and your four-legged friend to explore.
WHAT ARE THE MUST-SEES? Mudchute Park and Farm is a great place to start. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the shadow of Canary Wharf, the city farm allows you to escape the urban sprawl of London. It’s open every day, is free to enter and has acres of pathways to explore. Look out for the squirrels!
Dogs on lead are welcome to explore the farm itself, where you will find everything from sheep to chickens, donkeys and alpacas. I find it fascinating to see how Ernie reacts to the other animals (from a safe distance, of course) and they’re always very interested in him.
Mudchute is actually a charity so if you like what you see, feel free to make a donation. You can also support the good work it does by popping in to the Mudchute Kitchen for a cuppa and a cake. Dogs are allowed inside the café and there’s even a wall of fame where you can pin up a photo for the chance to be named Pet of the Month.
To see London from a different angle, take to the skies: dogs are welcome on the Emirates Air Line. This dinky cable car – the only one in the city – crosses the River Thames from the Royal Docks to Greenwich Peninsula (close to The O2) and “flights” take around ten minutes. If you travel on a clear day, the views are spectacular and there’s also an onboard video commentary that tells you all about the local area, which has seen lots of development in recent years.
“Boarding passes” cost £4.50 one-way or £9 return but if you have a Travelcard or valid Oyster card, it’s cheaper – I paid £3.50 for my one-way ticket while Ernie travelled for free. If you’re planning a big day of sightseeing, it may be worth looking in to the various river and museum packages available.
The trendy area of Shoreditch is incredibly dog-friendly too. Dogs on lead are allowed in the famous Old Spitalfields Market and a number of independent shops welcome them too, such as Rough Trade Records and cycling shop, Rapha. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants in the area where you and your four-legged friend can refuel, too.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? The Greenway is an excellent off-road pathway for both walkers and cyclists that runs from Beckton to Bow, via Plaistow, West Ham and Stratford. It is generally elevated so you can have a good nose at your surroundings as you stroll and look out for historic buildings and sculptures along the way.
You can follow The Greenway to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, which has plenty of green pockets to explore. Alternatively, Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets is also great for walkies, both on and off-lead.
If you’re on the Isle of Dogs, there’s a cool tunnel that goes under the River Thames – it’s around a ten-minute walk from Mudchute Park and Farm. I don’t think many people even know it exists because it’s not particularly well signposted but is popular with locals, joggers and dog walkers. Just look for the circular glass-domed entrance.
The 370m-long pedestrian tunnel opened in 1902 and pops up next to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. You need to walk down 100 steps to reach it – or take the wood-panelled lift, which is one of the largest (and grandest) you’re likely to encounter.
BEST PLACE TO GRAB A BITE? Hackney Wick is incredibly dog-friendly. If your idea of a perfect meal involves pizza and beer, make CRATE Brewery your first stop. All the booze at this canal-side brewery is crafted in-house and it also serves up delicious stone-baked pizzas with experimental toppings.
The bar itself, in trendy Queens Yard, is an upcycling mecca. Here, rusty old bed springs are used as light fittings and ladders with ratchet straps have been transformed into seats. Dogs are welcome inside but there’s a large patio area overlooking the canal, too. CRATE is also just steps away from Howling Hops – another craft brewery that’s home to the UK’s first dedicated tank bar.
If burgers are your thing, head to The People’s Park Tavern. This trendy pub, near Victoria Park, loves visiting doggos and even hosts a “Pub Pup of the Week” competition on Instagram. The garden is great for dogs, and it’s the same at The Bell in Walthamstow. Dogs are warmly welcomed at this cosy pub, which is close to Epping Forest – another great place to let off some steam.
Don’t forget to look out for Shake Shack on your travels, too. This global burger chain has its own doggy menu with lip-smacking items such as frozen custard and red velvet biscuits. In East London, you’ll find branches at Canary Wharf and Stratford.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY? Aloft London ExCel, in Royal Victoria Dock, is a pet-friendly hotel and doesn’t charge extra for dogs. Its ARF (Animals are Fun) package is great for visiting pooches under 18kg, who will be treated to their own bed, mat, bowls and treats for the duration of their stay. There’s even a “snack station” for dogs in the lobby.
Alternatively, the trendy Ace Hotel in Shoreditch is great for dogs who want to be close to the action. Well-behaved pups on leads are even allowed in the restaurant.
GET ME THERE: Dogs travel free on all trains and buses. Plan your journey by checking out London’s transport maps. Dogs are also welcome on the MBNA Thames Clippers, which speed along the River Thames from Woolwich in East London to Putney in the west. See the company website for more on routes, timetables and prices.