The Best Running Routes in London
Summer’s coming and if the streets of London weren’t busy enough, the city’s marathon runners have come out in force ahead of April’s 26 mile endurance test. With so many long limbs and lithe torsos on show it’s not hard to find the fitspiration to kick start your own regime but locating somewhere worth running to can be a little more difficult.
Sound like a poor excuse? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s six of the best running routes in central London to help you on your way to health guru status. Because if you can’t beat them, join them.
Covering almost 800 acres, the breathtaking heights of Hampstead Heath make the hills and climbs truly worthwhile. A standard loop is about 3.3 miles but there’s plenty of cut-throughs for shorter runs or opportunities for extension if you want to push yourself. An athletics track is available for public use if you want to go it pro or why not end your run with a dip in the outdoor swimming ponds? Open all year they’re sure to cool down any hot body.
Nearest Tube: Hampstead or Highgate
At 5.12 miles (8.24km), Hyde Park covers an area of 350 acres and is one of the city’s most popular open spaces. Created to satisfy a royal passion for hunting, Hyde Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and continues to bear historical importance with many famous landmarks such as the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and the beautiful serpentine lake. The stunning Italian gardens will help you forget the flat pavement surface and be sure to catch your breath by Speakers’ Corner for an entertaining insight into the minds of many an odd Londoner.
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch
Running along Southbank from Waterloo station up to Tower Bridge, crossing the river and winding back, marks a distance of 8.56km and will take in many of the city’s most iconic urban builds. This historic pathway isn’t just a favourite with tourists but a common running route with many inner city professionals venting some stress on their lunch breaks. To avoid the hoards, this route is quietest at late morning, early afternoon and evenings after rush hour.
Nearest Tube: Waterloo or Tower Hill
East End Canals
Along the towpaths of the River Lea, Hertford Union Canal, Regents Canal and Limehouse Cut, the East End offers a historical tour around some of London’s oldest, and most scenic, canals. Starting and ending at Three Mills, former working mills on the River Lea and now home to a major film and TV studio, this route marks out a pleasantly flat distance of 6.31 miles (10.15km). 2012’s Olympic regeneration projects have transformed much of the disused industrial buildings but the area is still pleasingly gritty and, if the wealth of Grade-1 listed architecture isn’t enough, the cache of graffiti splatterings is sure to keep you amused.
Nearest tube: Bromley-by-Bow
At 1,100 acres, Wimbledon Common is one of south west London’s largest open spaces.
With plenty of bridleways and reputedly over a million trees, it’s no surprise its “labyrinths of leafy glades” (Walter Johnson, 1912) was made the fictional home to the burrow-loving Wombles and it continues to be popular today with many a runner making use of the 5km circular route. Starting and ending at the Grade II listed windmill, this is a flat run which mixes gravel trails and leafy forest paths.
Nearest tube: Wimbledon
Richmond enjoys the largest of London’s Royal Parks with a perimeter track distance over 11km (7 miles). As both a National Nature Reserve and European Special Area of Conservation, you’re sure to see no shortage of grazing deer at Richmond Park and, when the road is closed at night, the lack of traffic makes Richmond Park the perfect rural escape for anyone wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Nearest tube: Richmond