A doggy day out in… Chelmsford

In January 2020, I became a columnist for Essex Life magazine, writing about doggy days out in and around the county. Here is my article about Chelmsford…

Hylands House, Chelmsford
Beautiful Hylands House

What to see

Start by visiting the Hylands Estate, which has more than 570 acres of land to explore. Whether you choose to wander around the Victorian gardens or walk through ancient woodlands, you’re sure to have a great day out with your dog.

The estate centres around Hylands House, a stunning Neo-Classical villa, and its former stables now house a café and artists’ studios. Dogs are not allowed inside the Courtyard area, but they have a whole covered patio area devoted to them instead. Parking is also free, which is fantastic.

Ernie by a No Dogs sign outside The Courtyard restaurant on the Hylands Estate
Ernie tries to break the rules on the Hylands Estate!

For a bit of retail therapy, head to Chelmsford city centre. The “John Lewis effect” has seen it become a premier shopping destination and the store is just one of many shops to welcome pets. Others include Dr Martens and White Stuff.

Chelmsford has some lovely open spaces to explore too and Central Park, in the heart of the city centre, is one of its finest. The River Can cuts right through this urban park, which is also home to a skate zone, play area and lake. It’s also worth making a pilgrimage to Oaklands Park, where you can pay tribute to our brave service dogs at the National K9 Police Dog Memorial.

Ernie explores Chelmsford's Central Park
Ernie explores Chelmsford’s Central Park

What to eat

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life at the Central Park Café, which sells bags of food to feed the ducks on the lake. Dogs are welcome both inside and out, and it’s the same at Sweet Pea Café, which does a mean afternoon tea.

Beer lovers will be happy to know that pets are allowed at The Ale House, under the railway arches. And The Bootmaker is another great bar that welcomes dogs – staff even put on a monthly doggy brunch, followed by a walk in the park. See its Facebook page for more details.

For delicious pizza and great vegan options, try Acanteen, where dogs are welcome in the lounge area. But for something a little more upmarket, head to Channels Bar & Brasserie, where pampered pets can dine from their very own menu. The restaurant, at the Channels Hotel, even has a dog agility course.

Ernie's Chelmsford column for Essex Life
The column in the September 2020 edition of Essex Life magazine

While you’re in the area

Visit Paper Mill Lock in Little Baddow, a 15-minute drive from the city centre. This is the place to go for peaceful canalside strolls and in the summer months, you can also enjoy riverboat cruises. Provided there’s room, dogs are allowed onboard for the 50-minute sailings, which cost £6 per adult. There is a fantastic family-run tea room at the lock too, where dogs are allowed both inside and out.

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