Updated: Jul 27, 2019
Hastings and St Leonards are very dog-friendly places. Maybe it’s got something to do with living a stone’s throw from the beach and a hop, skip and a jump from the woods and countryside. Whatever the reason, one thing is an undisputed fact- down on the South East coast we love our precious pooches. There are so many beautiful local places to take your dog for his or her daily constitutional that we felt slightly overwhelmed! We decided to call in the big guns and sought expert advice from my ever-so-slightly bonkers Cocker Spaniel's superstar dog-walker, Nicola Hebron from Hebbie’s Hounds Dog Walking Service.
Nicola has worked with dogs for over ten years in one capacity or another and has four- yes, FOUR- of her own. I think it’s safe to say that Nicola knows a thing or two about dogs and her love of them is clear to see- they love her too- which is why she decided to quit her day job almost ten months ago, take the plunge and set up her own dog-walking business. “I just adore dogs, from little fluffy ones, to gigantic scruffy hounds- I’ve always been interested in their unique personalities and behaviours and one of the most rewarding things about my job is watching them grow in confidence, have fun and play together, enjoying themselves. It was extremely hard to build the confidence to leave my 15-year career in childcare and turn my dream into a reality, but I finally did it and would say ‘go for it’ to anyone thinking of doing something new. The bonus is that now I get to spend all day everyday with my own dogs too and spend loads of time outside in the fresh air!”.
Where better to own a dog-walking business than the most dog-crazy place in the country? (Erm, not a proven fact, but a little exaggeration never hurt anyone). We asked Nicola to give us the lowdown on the best places to walk your dogs. Here are her top five.
St Helen’s Woods- 104 acres of ancient magic
“It’s important for the dogs to have mental stimulation as well as physical exercise, so taking them somewhere there are lots of different terrains is great- St Helen’s Woods have ponds and streams, open meadows, tree cover and lots of sniffs and smells to explore- it’s a beautiful place to visit. Just be careful not to enter the enclosed fields at the top of the woods if there are horses grazing, which there often are”.
Guestling Woods and Fields- land dolphin heaven
“One of my favourite things is to watch the dogs running and having fun with each other- the fields on the way to Guestling Woods are full of long grass and the dogs love running through it. The smaller dogs tend to jump as they run, which makes them look like dolphins jumping out of the sea, hence ‘land-dolphins’! The woods themselves are gorgeous- with foxgloves and bluebells popping up in the spring”.
There are several entrances to Guestling Woods, the main one being on Watermill Lane in Pett where there is a designated car park. Another entrance is at the back of St Laurence’s Church in Guestling. You can park at the back of the church, walk through the grounds and across the long grass fields. For more information please visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Combe Valley Countryside Park- a different walk for everyday of the week
“Combe Valley is so huge (1480 acres!) we still haven’t explored all of it! Filsham Reedbed is great for a riverside walk in the long grass, Bulverhythe playing fields are the best place for zoomies but there are little bridges across the river that add interest to the walk and the dogs can go for a little dip. Another favourite place of ours, which is part of Combe Valley, is the Link Road, which is all marshes and long grass. The dogs love it and tend to come home soggy and covered in mud, which is a sign of a good time!”.
For more information please visit www.combevalleycountrysidepark.com
Dog’s Hill at Winchelsea Beach- the clue's in the name
“I mean, you can’t live in a seaside town and not take your dog down at low tide for a lovely sandy, soggy, ball chase and swim can you? It would be rude not to! There are lots of nice beaches in East Sussex, but Dog’s Hill is our favourite. At high tide it’s a typical pebble beach, but at low tide it’s all exposed rocks and sand, sand, sand! Be careful of the clay. If you’ve ever been caught in it it can be quite scary, just try and stay calm and find firmer ground nearby. Getting covered in clay is a good excuse to go have a paddle yourself. Why should the dogs have all the fun eh?!”
The road that runs alongside the beach is called Dog’s Hill Road- hence ‘Dog’s Hill’! There’s free parking and nearby public toilets. It’s worth noting that Winchelsea Beach is unsupervised, so if you do get into trouble or need to call the Coastguard you will need to call 999. Always check the tide times at www.tidetimes.org.uk
Hastings Country Park- a sight for sore eyes
“Hastings Country Park is a really beautiful place to visit, with views all the way to Dungeness and Beachy Head and over the sea from the cliffs. Like Combe Valley, it covers a huge area- there’s ancient woodland, waterfalls, places for the dogs to swim, meadows and grassland for them to run- we often park on Barley Lane and go to the East Hill part, which overlooks Hastings Old Town and sometimes we park at the car park on Martineau Lane and walk down through the old Quarry and along the cliffs and through the fields”.
For more information please visit www.hastings.gov
There are all sorts of reasons you might seek the services of a professional dog walker- maybe you work long hours or are planning a holiday, you might be poorly and need help at certain times or perhaps you want your dog to socialise with other dogs a bit more. There are lots of dog walking businesses in Hastings and St Leonards and you need to find the right person for you and your doggo. I chose Nicola because she's so knowledgeable, she's first aid trained, she's done behavioural courses and she always has the time to answer my bonkers Polly-related questions. Oh, and she does the most amazing line-up shots of the dogs that she shares on her social media pages! But most importantly I trust her absolutely and Polly adores her Auntie Nic-Nic!
Hebbie's Hounds Dog Walking Service covers Hastings, St Leonards-on-Sea, Fairlight, Pett and surrounding areas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10.30am-11.30am and 1.30pm-2.30pm and offers groups walks, private walks for nervous dogs and puppy walks.
To contact Nicola and arrange a consultation please call 07565967938 or email email@example.com