What with the current warm weather and some of the high temperatures that we get during the summer in England, I’m sure many dog owners are searching out the best places to take their dog for a swim and to cool off. There are many ponds, lakes, canals and rivers in Surrey which are great for just this purpose, and we have put together a list of ones below.
Do be careful of any dangers which might affect your dog if they go for a swim, highlighting two in particular are blue-green algae and swans. If your dog drinks or swallows any water containing blue-green algae it can cause severe neurologic or liver damage and is very dangerous. Once blue-green algae has been detected, the landowner may put signs up to let you know that it is present, but do check for yourself first before letting your dog swim. There are a number of sites online which will help you to identify blue-green algae, but if you are unsure it is best not to let your dog swim. Also watch out for swans, as they can attack your dog and cause injury as well as death, and your dog may struggle to get away if they are in the water.
Risks aside, many dogs love to have a swim and it can be great to help them to cool down and get lots of exercise on a warm day. Here are our suggestions of places to go:
1. Frensham Little Pond near Farnham
This tops the list as it has a lovely walk all the way around the pond and dogs can nip in and out of the pond in various places. There are usually lots of other dogs that they can play with too, and also a cafe by the car park so that humans can get themselves a refreshing drink as well. There is a sandy beach like area near the cafe where on the warmer days you will often see families relaxing, and this area is great for kids to paddle and swim too. Parking can be found at GU10 3BT.
2. Riverside Nature Reserve in Guildford
This area is far less well known than Frensham Little Pond and contains a beautiful lake, so well worth heading to especially if you would like to go somewhere quieter. Also known locally as Bowers Lake (due to the car park being on Bowers Lane) there are multiple access points to the water for dogs all the way around the lake. Just be mindful of the swans and other wildlife, and there are also cows grazing all the way around too. Another downside is that it is right next to the A3, so is a bit noisy somedays. Next to the lake is a boardwalk section and this leads onto the canal, where dogs can also swim if they would like to. Parking can be found at GU4 7ND.
3. Stepping Stones in Boxhill near Dorking
This is part of a very popular walk which has great views over the Surrey Hills. Your dog will be able to swim around the stepping stones and you can choose walks which take in a number of interesting features such as a fort and a natural play trail. Nearby parking can be found at KT20 7LB.
4. Waggoners Wells near Hindhead
This is another lovely area to walk your dog. You can take a somewhat hilly path which goes around all three lakes and has views of the lake on one side and woodland on the other. This walk takes about 40 minutes, but there are lots of other paths you can use to extend your walk too. They do allow fishing and have an angling club that use the ponds so you may need to keep an eye on your dog in case they go on a raid for fishing bait!
There is a sign near the car park that asks that dogs only swim in the lake nearest the car park due to the banks eroding around the other lakes. When we walked around here Holly didn’t show many tendencies to go into the water on the other lakes as the banks are quite steep, so this might not be a problem for you. The lake nearest the car park has a ‘beach’ where your dog can easily enter the water to go for a swim. This is near a small weir leading into a stream which goes under a bridge. It seemed safe enough though and Holly found the weir quite scary so she kept away from it! Parking can be found at GU26 6DT.
5. River Mole just off the A25 in Dorking
This was recommended to us but we haven’t yet tried it. When we have the chance to go we will let you know more! It’s quite close to Bocketts Farm and parking can be found at KT22 9BS.
6. River Wey near Guildford
The River Wey just south of Guildford has a great spot for your dog to swim in, with a sloping bank into the water. There are also a few other shallow bits along the river which your dog might like to paddle in.You could follow our walk from The Britannia Pub or you could park on Ferry Lane at GU2 4EF and walk from there.
7. Black Pond at Esher Common
This is very popular with locals but again just be careful of the swans. There are a number of commons here with lots of routes to walk to keep both you and your dog busy. The path goes along one side of the pond and it is raised and not sloping into the pond, but if your dog won’t jump in there is a ‘beach’ at the southwestern corner. This is a little boggy but should be more encouraging for your dog to get in the water. Again the A3 runs along the south of the common and is quite noisy, but other parts of the common are more peaceful. Parking can be found at Esher Common Car Park, KT10 9JL. This is a small car park but if it’s full there is one on the opposite side of the road.
8. Virginia Water near Egham
Last but not least we have to include Virginia Water. This is a very popular spot for people to walk their dogs, however that is why it has been left until last. Whenever we have gone it has been really, really busy and felt like you were walking in a parade rather than taking a relaxing stroll. However it is great for dogs – there are lots of places for them to swim and also lots of other dogs for them to play with. The car park near the visitor centre off the A30 is a bit pricey and you may have to queue for a while to get out, but there are other parking spots on other sides of the park. You could try Virginia Water South Car Park at SL5 7SB which might be a bit less busy (although not any cheaper). The Belvedere Pub is down the road from here though and it allows dogs in the bar so this could be a good place to refresh yourself after a long walk.
9. Ash Meadows near Farnham
This area has recently been developed due to the new housing estate nearby but it can still be accessed from South Lane, where there is a small car park (GU12 6NJ). It is good for both wet and dry days, as there are a few places for your dog to swim but there are also well maintained paths that are relatively mud free during the winter. You can find a map of the area here. Although it is not mentioned on the map, at the end of the boardwalk leading into the field you will find a fenced off area that has been labelled as a dog swimming pond, and this is still quite deep although a bit muddy (June 3rd 2021). Again not marked on the map, there is a bridleway that goes in between the construction sites and this has a stream with a pool at the end which our dog loves to splash in. You will find this in between where it says South Lane and dismantled railway on the map. The meadows are a lovely place to have a picnic in between the wildflowers and the wildlife is quite brave, with deer and foxes often being spotted.
We hope that has given you lots of ideas and your dog gets out and about and has a lovely swim! Do you know of other places in Surrey which you think are great for your dog to swim in? Then please do use the comment box below to let everyone know.