Five of the best… Croydon parks to walk your dog

By - Tuesday 23rd February, 2016

In the first of her new series, ‘five of the best’, Bernadette Fallon offers her pick of Croydon’s parks

We’re very fortunate in Croydon to have so many parks and green spaces – 127 to be precise, so get your walking shoes on and grab the dog. If you haven’t got one, borrow the neighbour’s, because if there is one thing better than getting outside to enjoy the bracing fresh air, it’s enjoying the bracing fresh air with a happy doggy pal beside you.

Here’s my pick of the five best parks in Croydon to walk your dog. Or anybody else’s.

Wandle Park

John Ruskin came over all romantic when he described it: “Under the low red roofs of Croydon, and by the cress-set rivulets in which the sand danced and minnows darted above the springs of Wandel…” (Praeterita, 1885). And with the restoration of the river back into the park in the last few years, the romance is back. It has a great little café with plenty of space to sit outside so your dog doesn’t get lonely, with special offers for dog owners, along with a playground, pretty ornamental garden and a pond. In summer the space becomes an outdoor theatre and cinema, with lots of great events scheduled. You can check out the 2016 programme on FacebookRead more about summer theatre in Wandle Park.

The twenty-one acre park is one of the oldest public spaces in Croydon, formed from two water meadows purchased by the council and opened in the 1880s with an artificial boating lake as its centrepiece. (This later became the local ice rink when it froze over in winter. Thrill seekers now will have to content themselves with the skate park. Skateboarding is only for the two-legged however…)

South Norwood Lake and Grounds

Speaking of lakes, there a large and very beautiful one in South Norwood if you and the dog like a watery view on your walk. The park covers twenty eight and a half acres and is popular with dog walkers.

The lake was built as a reservoir to supply to the Croydon canal in 1806, which didn’t unfortunately do very well and was sold to become a railway; the railway line still runs around the edge of the park.

You can follow the lake and grounds on Facebook – as can your dog. Well, lots of dogs have their own Facebook page these days…

Park Hill Park

park hill park with cherry blossom trees

Photo by Friends of Park Hill Recreation Ground, used with permission.

It’s worth doing a brisk and lengthy walk around the lovely Park Hill Park, not only to entertain the dog and not only to see Croydon’s historic water tower – but to walk off enough calories to treat yourself to the wonderful homemade cakes at Water Tower Teas. It’s a pretty tea stand with tables and chairs in the middle of nature, and dogs will love the fact you haven’t disappeared into a café, while they whine outside. It’s only open from spring to autumn though, so start the countdown now. And have the coffee cake. Mmmmm, the coffee cake…

Follow the park on Facebook and Twitter and find out more about the very committed and communit- minded volunteers called the Park Hill Friends who keep the place looking beautiful with their gardening skills. Have a look at their work in the walled garden, though your furry friend will have to wait outside. The park’s been in the news too: September 2015 a stag was trapped there for ten days.

Lloyd Park

This large park is one of the biggest green areas in the borough, 114 acres with lovely mature trees and wooded areas as well as parkland. You can sit outside the café with your dog: just remember to keep them clear of the children’s playground and sports areas. The park was given as a gift by Frank Lloyd, a newspaper magnate who lived in Coombe House on the Coombe Estate for thirty-five years until his death in 1927. He had wanted to give over some of his estate to the borough to provide parkland and playing fields, and his wishes were carried out after this death by his daughter, Mrs JR Garwood. During the Second World War, part of the park was planted for crops with the help of the Women’s Land Army. Have a look at the park’s Facebook page to see plenty of dogs having fun.

Happy Valley

If you really want to feel you’ve left the city streets behind, then head for the ‘proper countryside’ setting of Happy Valley, all 252 acres – yep! – of it. Located in Old Coulsdon, you and the dog can romp happily through mile after mile of park and woods, in meadows and nature trails, all the time feeling like you’re on top of the world, the views being lovely up there. You might want to keep your dog on a lead as there are horse riding trails through the parkland, as well as herds of cows, which attract lots of attention from passers-by. Make a day of it and take a walk down to the Chaldon church, which dates back to the 10th century. And search Happy Valley on Twitter for lots more great pics.

Remember to keep your dog safe in the parks and ensure the safety of other park users; take a look at the local council byelaws for taking dogs into parks and open spaces. Happy walking! And if this article has given you some ideas, there are many more seasonal walks in Croydon, so do take a look here.

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette has been a journalist since the age of 7 when she devised, designed and launched ‘Fallon’s News’ – much to her family’s delight. Brought up in Ireland, she was born in Addiscombe where she now lives, though it took her several decades to find it again. She works as a journalist and broadcaster. Follow her at

More Posts

  • Anne Giles

    Great article. Sadly, our disabled dog can no longer be walked. :-(