The best towns and cities for runners in the UK

A new study by Runners Need has revealed the UK cities offering the best routes and environments for new and experiences runners.

According to some, autumn is the best time to start running – thanks to cooler temperatures, the motivation of applying for distance runs, and reduced pressure some feel in other popular periods of the year. 

With this in mind, running wear specialists, Runners Need, have analysed the terrain, paths, weather conditions and the number and type of running routes, across 50 UK towns and cities to reveal the easiest and hardest places to run in the UK, for experts and beginners alike.

To view the full study and interactive detailing each city’s results, please visit:


The best cities for beginner runners in the UK

Runners Needs’ analysis found that Cambridge is the best city for those looking to get into running. Environmental figures showed that Cambridge is blessed with some of the flattest and easiest to traverse terrain in the UK, along drier and less windy weather than the UK average.

On top of Cambridge’s environmental figures, research showed that 60% of paths in Cambridge (599) are paved, with 113 listed running routes mapped out across the city (of which 24 are rated easy).

The second best city for beginner runners is Oxford, with 538 paths (including 230 paved paths), 76 listed easy and expert running routes, and an environment that is less windy than the UK average. 

The joint third best cities for new runners are Gloucester and Milton Keynes. 

Results showed that for beginner runners in Gloucester have access to the 4th highest total number of paths, the 2nd least windy conditions (with an average knot speed of 9.6), and the 10th least rain (with 15 clearer days than the study average).

Meanwhile beginner running routes make up 24% of the total routes listed in Milton Keynes, and experience the 2nd least amount of rain of the cities analysed.

The best cities for expert runners in the UK

In addition to ranking highly for beginner runners, Gloucester was also found to be the best city for expert runners, with figures showing 67 of the 85 listed running routes in Gloucester described as “expert” and the elevation in the city ranked the 15th hardest in the country.

The second best city for expert runners is Cambridge, with the 3rd highest number of expert running routes in the country (89).

Taking third place in the best cities for expert runners is Milton Keynes, which is home to 42 listed expert running routes and has 484 paths to run along (including 264 paved paths).

UK cities with the most beginner running routes

Figures showed that Southampton has the most beginners running routes in the UK, with 54 routes listed in the South coast city; beginner routes making up 31% of the total listed routes in Southampton.

Norwich and Nottingham were found to have the second and third most beginner routes in the UK, with 31 and 27 beginner running routes respectively. 

Bradford Has the highest percentage of routes that are described as beginner friendly in the UK, with 51% of the listed running routes in Bradford described as beginner friendly. Warrington (50%) and Nottingham (41%) have the second and third highest percentage of beginner routes.

UK cities with the most expert running routes

Edinburgh is home to the highest number of expert running routes, with 133 expert running routes listed in the Scottish Capital and expert routes making up 84% of the total running routes listed.

Southampton has the second highest number of expert routes in the UK, with 121 listed but making up just 69% of the total routes listed in the city. Meanwhile, Cambridge lists 89 running routes that are described as for experts (making up 79% of the total route in the city).

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