The UK’s capital is justifiably considered a terrific place to lace up your shoes and go for a jog thanks to its renowned road running events like the Virgin Money London Marathon and the Vitality London 10,000. You might be surprised to learn that it’s also an excellent place to try trail jogging if you want to venture off the beaten path.
Without leaving Zone 2, London has more than enough off-road options to satiate those with itchy feet, whether they are headed to the city’s parkland, woodland, or even a defunct railway line.
Hence, if you’re looking for a place to run, why not forego the pavement and prepare to discover areas of the city and surrounding areas that you didn’t know existed?
Together with our friends from London Transport Hub, we have created this list of the 10 best paths near London we hope you will enjoy!
1. Parkland Walk
The Parkland Walk is one of London’s best-hidden gems © Flickr / londonmatt
Adventures on the urban trail are ideal along this route. It travels 4 kilometers over the historic railroad route that connected Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace via Highgate.
One of the easiest routes on the list is this one. It is simple to follow, and if you start at the Alexandra Palace end, the entire route is primarily downhill.
The Parkland Walk is London’s longest linear nature reserve and was once a disused railroad line. The path winds in the direction of Highgate once you leave Finsbury Park through the Oxford Road Gate. The second branch of the route leads to Alexandra Palace after a brief stretch of road. Enjoy the panoramic views of London from the summit, and if you’re doing it on a Sunday, treat yourself to a quick visit to the park’s monthly farmers market.
2. Richmond Park
Deer are a common sight when running in Richmond Park © Flickr / stevekeiretsu
An ideal escape to the countryside without ever leaving the city. The Richmond location of the trail is less than an hour from the heart of London. There are a few decent climbs and straightforward, uncomplicated courses.
Although the 12 km loop in Richmond Park is well known in the world of road cycling, the 2,500 acres of parks are also excellent for trail running. Although the park is crisscrossed with hundreds of other potential pathways to get lost on, the 11.7-kilometer Tamsin Trail, which follows the circumference, is a nice place to start. See St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance from King Henry’s Mound, or spend some time with some of the park’s resident roaming deer.
3. Hampstead Heath
The heath is a great spot for trail running, whatever the time of day © Flickr/ marcbarrot
Excellent for cross-country racing, it frequently hosts the English National Championships and is the site of the London Cross-Country Championships. It is less than four miles from Central London and is situated in Zone 2. The challenge changes depending on how many climbs up Parliament Hill you count.
There are countless paved and off-road route segments in the north London park, which includes 800 acres of woods and pasture. The heath has a long literary tradition and served as an inspiration for books like The Chronicles of Narnia. It is frequently used as a filming location. Increase the difficulty by performing some hill repeats on Parliament Hill, so named because it was there that Guy Fawkes and his friends intended to gather for a view of the Houses of Parliament. Finish your run with a plunge in one of the open-water ponds after taking it all in.
4. Thames path
The Thames isn’t all skyscrapers and tourists… © Joe Dunckley / iStock / Getty Images Plus
This walk is ideal for river vistas and a lengthier challenge that can be performed in stages. It travels 296 kilometers along the Thames from its source in the Cotswold highlands to the Thames Barrier. Besides a few slight natural elevations, the path is mostly level.
Before reaching the capital, the Thames Path travels through serene water meadows, pristine rural villages, and ancient cities. It is one of 15 recognized National Trails. Oxford and Windsor are two significant stops along the road, which combine metropolitan life and rural tranquility. But, choosing your side carefully is advisable because various parts on the north and south banks have different lengths.
5. Trent Park
Right beside Cockfosters Station, Trent Park is easy to access by Tube © Flickr / jvk
The woodland is home to various animals and birdlife, making this trail ideal for seeing wildlife. It may be found close to Cockfosters Station at the northern end of the Piccadilly Line. If you include the run-up to the Obelisk, the walk is considered to be of medium difficulty, or 3 out of 5, in general.
The park, which is made up of old woods and meadows covering 413 acres, is a part of London’s Green Belt. Trent Park Running Club, which organizes the Triffic Trail 10k, is also located there. Visit the nature sanctuary and animal hospital, which are both maintained solely by volunteers and available to the public. But beware of the Camlet Moat; it’s supposed that Earl Mandeville’s ghost resides there and is rumored to protect his secret riches.
6. Epping Forest
Epping Forest is home to hundreds of winding trails © Flickr / emaybe
It is appropriate for long runs with a good probability of getting lost. straddling the line separating Greater London and Essex. It is considered a rather challenging walk; if you choose the proper (or perhaps incorrect) route, you’ll have to contend with thin gravelly soil, bogs, rivers, grassland, heath, and woodland.
The 5,900-acre-old woodland is large enough for you never to run the same set of paths twice and is 19 km long and 4 km wide, slicing its way from Leytonstone all the way up to the M25. Consider visiting Loughton Camp, an Iron Age hill fort perched on a high ridge, or simply follow your feet (and any number of trails) wherever they go.
7. Vanguard way
The view of the Seven Sisters is a great way to finish your run © Photography Aubrey Stoll / Monument / Getty
This location is ideal for a protracted journey from the city to the sea. This trail departs from Croydon and extends all the way to Newhaven on the south coast. Consider this path to be moderately difficult as there are some significant rises as you traverse the Downs, but there are also some nice flat areas.
This 106km route, which starts in the suburbs of London, travels through the counties of Surrey, Kent, and East Sussex. The South Downs National Park, two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Surrey Hills and High Weald), and views of the Seven Sisters are all included in the trail that members of the Vanguards Rambling Club created. Celebrate finishing the course successfully by getting ice cream on Seaford beach.
8. North Downs Way
Solitude outside the city: fields of wheat on the North Downs Way © Flickr / ru_boff
This route is ideal for day trips outside of the city to practice your climbing skills. The distance between Farnham, Surrey, and Dover, Kent, is 246 kilometers. The track has a few difficult climbs and a path that tempts you to go farther than you intended.
The North Downs Way is a long trail that spans South East England and features some of the most rural vistas. If you enjoy hiking hills, the stretch from Guildford to Reigate will make your legs burn from lactic acid. You can anticipate passing eight castles, three churches, and three archbishops’ residences if you take on the entire challenge. One for the history nerds out there, for sure.
9. South Downs Way
Quick-drying paths make the Souths Down Way perfect for year-round jaunts © Flickr / 24350382@N07
A weekend getaway with nice sea views from London. From Winchester to Eastbourne, the trail is 160 km long and nearly fully contained within the South Downs National Park. Due to the long distance and occasional rolling hills, the course is considered medium-difficult.
The South Downs Way, a path through the countryside at its best, is bordered by two significant towns and travels through charming villages that are ideal for a pit stop or overnight stay. Also, because it is a chalk ridge, the track drains fast and dries rapidly, making it suitable for jogging all year. And if you’re feeling particularly daring, you can complete the South Downs Way 100 ultramarathon in one continuous run.
10. The Ridgeway
Prepare to pass the prehistoric figure the Uffington White Horse on route © Flickr /superdove
Excellent for history fans because of the numerous historical sites nearby, including long barrows from the Stone Age, round barrows from the Bronze Age, forts from the Iron Age, and white horse carvings in the chalk. Between London and Oxford, the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs are traversed by the trail. The Chilterns area offers serene, forested countryside.
This 140-kilometer track considered Britain’s oldest “road,” has been traveled since the Paleolithic era and may be older than 5,000 years. As the track opens up as it travels through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the stretch of the route west of the Thames is a genuine highlight. There are miles of secluded chalk down land that is rolling, as well as numerous legendary archaeological sites.
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