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

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Sam Whittle

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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 the hot spots for you to hit.

Dust off your trainers, start your playlist, and leave the excuses at home because there’s exploring to do, by foot!

Flat, paved, 1.8 miles — sound like a bit of you? If so, The Carriage Drive loop around Battersea Park is an absolute gem. The park has an epic view of the Thames, luscious greenery, art gallery, and even a zoo, so take 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 a 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.

Tracks on tracks mean you decide the distance as you weave your way through the gardens. For an easy 2.76-mile loop of Regent’s Park, start and finish at Prince Albert Road. Dash across the road, and finish the run with an uphill 0.4-mile sprint (or walk — no judgment) to the top of Primrose Hill for an epic view.

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.

Despite the name, it 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 run. 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.

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Richmond Park is a grassland treasure found just outside Central London in Richmond. The popular 7.35-mile perimeter loop on the Tamsin Trail has you running on hilly dirt trails through forests and fields. As with Bushy Park, be sure to keep an eye out for the deer, who are roaming free and could cross your path. And if you’re asking 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? A four-mile jaunt along the riverside will show you 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 try the Battersea Bridge for more distance.  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.

A 2.5-mile green walkway follows the course of the railway line that used to run between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. You’ll find yourself passing derelict station platforms and tunnels (some of which are now protected bat caves), and, as the trail is part of a reserve, plenty of greenery.

An East London jewel, Victoria Park provides a five-mile loop that keeps you off the streets. Be aware: it’s one of the most visited park in London, so be sure to get in early morning to avoid the crowds. And as a bonus, the park is home to a few cafes to sit down and chill after a morning sweat.

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Stay up to date on what’s happening in London’s health and fitness scene.