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CITY STREETS & SCENIC TRAILS: ALL THE BEST RUN ROUTES IN LONDON

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SAM WHITTLE

JUL 29, 2019

Whether you’re marathon training, pounding the pavement on your lunch break, or simply trying to find a space without crowds of people and pigeons, we’ve got our eyes on all the hot running spots for you to hit in London.

So, dust off your trainers, start your playlist, and leave the excuses at home, because you've got some mileage to crush.

The flat, paved, 1.8-mile Carriage Drive loop around Battersea Park is an absolute gem. Not only does it offer epic views of the Thames and luscious greenery to help you power through the muscle burn, but the park is also home to an art gallery and a zoo. So, bring along your backpack and snacks; you might be there all day!

Tick off four of the city’s Royal Parks—Kensington, Hyde, Green, and St James’s Park—in one 7.2-mile loop. Follow the perimeters of the park marked with rose brass plates in the pavement and enjoy the scenery. Really, any time during the week is your ideal window, as playing dodge ’em on weekends in the crowds will slow your pace.

Regent's Park is a runner's paradise, popular for the variety of paths and routes you'll find here. And what that actually means is you can decide what distance you want to tackle as you weave your way through the gardens. For an easy, 2.76-mile loop of Regent’s Park, start and end at Prince Albert Road. Then, dash across the road, and round out your workout with an uphill 0.4-mile sprint (or walk — no judgment) to the top of Primrose Hill for an epic view of the city.

This beauty is one of South West London’s largest green spaces, and—bonus—it’s full of dogs! There’s plenty of space for blazing your own trail around the common’s forest paths, though, if you’re the solo runner type, avoid busy Saturday mornings. And unless mud runs are your jam, plan your runs there on dry days (good luck with that).

Despite the name, this running destination has a lot more going for it than just bush. The South West Royal Park is home to roaming herds of deer and is dotted with waterways and gardens, making it a fine place to clock some miles. Take yourself off the paths to hit the trails, and be sure to find the Pheasantry Café nestled in the park for a well-deserved coffee afterwards.

Richmond Park is a grassland treasure found just outside Central London in Richmond. The popular 7.35-mile perimeter loop on the Tamsin Trail will have you running on hilly dirt trails through forests and fields. And, similar to Bushy Park, you'll want to be sure to keep an eye out for the deer — they roam free here and could cross your path. But, if you ask us, you should start and finish at the Roehampton Gate, where you will find a café for a post-run snack.

The miles will fly by as you explore all the open space in this North West park. At the Merton Lane entrance, work your way westward around the park to add 4.8 miles to your dash. You’ll soon find out ponds are here, there, and everywhere — in summer, you might even be tempted for a dip. Use the hills for sprint training, and watch the sunset from the top of Parliament Hill (there’s also a bench to rest on… just saying).

What’s a London run guide without a mention of the River Thames? Take a four-mile jaunt along the riverside and you'll get an eyeful of some of the most popular sights in London. Start at Waterloo and run along the South Bank until you hit the Tate Modern. Cross the river at the Millennium Bridge to loop back around, or take the Battersea Bridge for more distance. The best part about this route, though, is that it's completely flat and avoids most traffic. The only thing that will slow you down is you getting snap-happy with your phone camera.

East Londoners probably want to keep this one a secret — but it’s too good not to share! A short train ride to Leytonstone will have you in Wanstead Flats. As a perfectly flat, large open space with winding trails, it’s a runner’s dream (not after a heavy rainfall, though). Loop around the park, which is scattered with ponds and streams, to log up 6.9 miles.

This 2.5-mile green walkway follows the course of the railway line that used to run between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace and it's a favoured spot among runners and bikers looking to break a sweat. Along the way, you'll find yourself passing derelict station platforms and tunnels (some of which are now protected bat caves). And, since the trail is part of a reserve, you'll be surrounded by plenty of greenery, too.

An East London jewel, Victoria Park features a little over two-mile loop that'll keep you off the streets and cruising past trees, gardens, and grassy areas. But be aware: it’s one of the most visited park in London, so be sure to get there in early morning to avoid the crowds. Bonus: the park is home to a few cafes to sit down and chill after an AM sweat.

At exactly 60 kilometres long, the Jubilee Greenway is perfect if you're training for a marathon or just want to zone out and see where your feet take you. It's a paved pathway that starts at Buckingham Palace, travels through a handful of the Royal Parks, connects to East London, and circles back to St James's. You will want to pay attention along the way, though, as what this running and cycling route is really known for (aside from commemorating the reign of Queen Elizabeth II) is that it links to multiple 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues.

A jaunt along the Regent's Canal route is basically like taking a tour through the heart of London. The trail starts at the south side of Limehouse Station, meanders under brick archways, past multiple parks (including Victoria Park if you want to add on some mileage), and through Little Venice. And, depending on where you decide to turn around, the path is just over nine miles total, making it a great medium-distance course. Fitt Tip: Some parts of the towpath are narrow, so just be aware of other runners, walkers, or bikers along the way.

You won't have to worry about getting lost or turned around if you're running along this paved pathway in Central London. It's well-marked, featuring brass plates in the concrete to show you where to go, so all you have to do is lace up and cruise. There's plenty to take in throughout the course, too, as the figure-eight loop that starts at Hyde Park Corner will have you running counter clockwise through St James Park, Hyde Park, Green Park, and Kensington Gardens.