The key to long car journeys are comfort breaks – and lots of them. But how many times have you been on a lengthy drive with your dog and wanted to stop somewhere other than a service station? A cutesy village perhaps or a nice country park? Essentially, somewhere that’s not too far from the main road where you can break the journey and stretch your legs.
It’s impossible to know every part of the UK but that’s where the Driving with Dogs website and its network of subscribers come in. They are based all over the country and as local experts, know where you can enjoy a good walk just minutes from a motorway or A-road – really handy when you’re planning a road trip.
Users get “treats” for every walk or location they recommend, and the more they review or post pictures of, the more they earn. Treats can then be saved up and exchanged for things like special offers, books and gifts, which is a great incentive to get writing. Competitive dog owners will also love the fact there’s a subscriber leaderboard.
The idea for Driving with Dogs first came about in 2005 when Lezli and David Rees were sat in a traffic jam on the M40 in the blazing sunshine.
“Jem, our rescue Collie, was panting and pacing in the back of the car, desperate to cool down and have a leg stretch,” Lezli recalls. “We could see fields with footpaths from the motorway, but there was no way to get at them.
“Later, we searched for a handy reference book with lots of short walks near motorways but to our huge surprise, we couldn’t find anything so decided to make our own and put them online to share with the friends of friends.”
But the idea soon took off and by the beginning of 2009, Lezli and David had walked over 1,000 miles to discover dog-friendly places near almost every UK motorway. In 2018, the couple officially launched the Driving with Dogs website. The rest is history.
A basic account is free and takes less than a minute to set up. It gives you access to thousands of UK walks, as well as beach and pub recommendations across the country. You can also pay £29.99 for Premium membership, which unlocks all the website content and also covers France. If you’re interested but aren’t sure if you’ll need all of that, try the three-day Rover membership for £1.99.
Users that aren’t logged in can view a maximum of three listings a day but once you have an account, you can check out as many walks as you like. I put my local area to the test and also mapped out the route for a drive from Essex to Devon, which suggested 75 places I could stop en-route.
Using the handy map, I could see exactly where the recommendations were and could also filter the walks by saying how far I was willing to travel from the nearest motorway or A-road. Some of the suggestions were for circular walks and some were strolls to dog-friendly pubs but all of them were for places I would never have known about, had I not signed up for Driving with Dogs. Make sure you check it out before your next road trip!
* While writing this blog, I asked my friends on #DogTwitter to share pictures of their pets enjoying a road trip. The response from around the world was incredible and I was inundated with some really lovely photos. It’s impossible to share them all – as much as I would like to! – so below are a few of my favourites.
Big thanks to @affieobie, @ctinebean, @labradoryuki, @alftheairedale, @westieholly, @dogstasia, @sallydawn, @mcleod_hamish, @briggseyboy, @vinniethedog2, @hollieoffice, @veronicahallis1, @bertie_lakeland, @mariabridgen, @mopandplopbower, @milliemariemedi, @kowal_amanda, @karynohare1, @kellynoseyroo, @uniteddoberman
PS – If you haven’t discovered the joy of #DogTwitter, you’re missing out 🙂