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 Upminster…
What to see
Start by exploring the Thames Chase Community Forest. It covers 40 square miles of land on the London and Essex borders and the heart of the forest – the Thames Chase Forest Centre – is just outside Upminster. As well as the area around the visitor hub, there are several different woodlands to visit in the area, such as Folkes Lane, Pot Kiln and Cranham Marsh. The Forest Centre café even has special offers for dog walkers! All-day parking costs £2.
If your pooch is more of a townie than an explorer, head to Upminster Park, in the heart of the town centre. This beautifully-maintained green has lots of space for both children and dogs to enjoy and over the road, you’ll find the Grade II Listed Upminster Windmill. Clockhouse Gardens is well worth a visit too. It may not be huge but this ornamental garden, on the site of a former manor house, is packed with charm. A local lady often leaves cans of bird food by the entrance so visitors can feed the resident ducks and geese.
Anyone with a reactive dog will also be interested to know there are secure dog walking paddocks for hire in and around Upminster. The two main ones are operated by Foxes Farm Fields and can be found in Bird Lane and Hall Lane. Prices start from £12 for 55 minutes for up to three dogs.
Where to eat
For excellent pub grub, head to The Jobber’s Rest or The Thatched House. Both venues welcome dogs in their bar areas. They’re also close to the Thames Chase Forest Centre so you will be able to exercise your dog and work up a thirst before arriving.
Real ale fans will enjoy a trip to the Upminster TapRoom – a dog-friendly micropub that has a great range of beers, many of which are locally-brewed or could blow your head off! And pets are also welcome at Junction, a no-nonsense local next to Upminster station.
If it’s coffee and cake you’re after though, head to either Roots or Station Pantry – but be aware that dogs are only allowed outside.
While you’re in the area
Check out Harrow Lodge Park in nearby Hornchurch. Spanning more than 130 acres, it’s the biggest urban park in the borough of Havering. It also backs on to The Chase Nature Reserve and Eastbrookend Country Park in neighbouring Dagenham. When you need to refuel, head to the park’s Lakeview Palace Café, which allows dogs both inside and out.