The UK’s most scenic running routes for spring

Spring is on its way and with it comes longer days, flowers blooming and (hopefully) drier, warmer weather. Those that prefer running outside may be looking for a route which offers both a running appropriate trail as well as views to boost those dopamine levels.

A new study by New Balance has analysed the number Instagram hashtag uses for 135 UK parks and forests, which advertise running routes and trails, to determine which locations offer runners the opportunity for the most picturesque runs this spring.

The top 20 most scenic running routes for spring in the UK

RankLocationHashtagNo. Instagram hashtagsCounty
1Regent’s Park#regentspark467,978Greater London
2Richmond Park#richmondpark466,080Greater London
3Hampstead Heath#hampsteadheath352,779Greater London
4Forest of Dean#forestofdean309,774Gloucestershire
5Greenwich Park#greenwichpark228,335Greater London
6Battersea Park#batterseapark201,704Greater London
7Kensington Gardens#kensingtongardens190,758Greater London
8Sherwood Forest Country Park#sherwoodforest171,062Nottinghamshire
9Bushy Park#bushypark159,668Greater London
10Epping Forest#eppingforest151,676Essex
11West Highland Way#westhighlandway136,038Highlands
12Sefton Park#seftonpark111,007Merseyside
13Heaton Park#heatonpark104,563Lancashire
14Tatton Park#tattonpark101,009Cheshire
15Hyde Park#hydeparklondon81,422Greater London
16Bradgate Park#bradgatepark75,951Leicestershire
17Rutland Water#rutlandwater73,788Rutland
18Roundhay Park#roundhaypark72,603North Yorkshire
19Brockwell Park#brockwellpark71,284Greater London
20Wimbledon Common#wimbledoncommon68,216Greater London

The top 5 UK spring running routes

1. Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill Circular

Topping the list was Regent’s Park in London with 467,978 uses of the hashtag #regentspark. Regent’s Park offers visitors the chance to see Queen Mary’s Gardens, William Andrews Nesfield’s Avenue Gardens and perhaps even a glimpse of a lion at London Zoo. A popular trail in this park is Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill Circular (see below) which is approximately 6.8 km with an elevation gain of 116 m.

Regent's Park and Primrose Circular, All Trails

Regent’s Park and Primrose Circular, All Trails

2. Richmond Park loop

In second place was Richmond Park in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames with 466,080 uses of the hashtag #richmondpark. Another royal park and the largest, spreading over 2500 acres. Created by Charles I in the 17th century, it was designed originally to be a deer park and is now an important wildlife conservation area- you can see deer throughout the park in addition to birds and small mammals, making it perfect spring run location. An easy suggested route is the 6.8km Richmond park loop (shown below) which has an elevation gain of 145m. There is also the Tamsin Trail is 7.35 mile (11km) long and takes about an hour to run around the whole lap.

Richmond Park Loop, All Trails

Richmond Park Loop, All Trails

3. Hamstead Health circular

In third was yet another London location, Hampstead Heath with 352,779 uses of the hashtag #hampsteadheath. In fact, nine of the top 20 most scenic locations for a spring run were in London, proving you don’t need to live rurally to experience a picturesque run. Hamstead Health is a wild park of woodland and meadows, tucked inside north London’s Zone Two. The beauty of this location was actually what inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Chronicles of Narnia. A great running route option is Hamstead Health circular (as shown below), this is a 5.5-km circular trail with a 178m elevation gain.

Hamstead Heath Circular, All Trails

Hamstead Heath Circular, All Trails

4. Forest of Dean Mallard’s Pike trails

Forest of Dean boasts 309,774 uses of the hashtag #forestofdean on Instagram and is the only location outside of London to make the top five. There is an overwhelming amount of nature to observe, from birds, plants and animals such as wild boar- but also film buffs may notice that the forest was used as one of the filming locations used in the Harry Potter movies.

The Forest of Dean offers runners of all abilities different routes to try, with Mallard’s Pike running trails being the best place to start. There are four different trails of increasing distance. For the 2km running trail follow the grey waymarkers, 3km trail follow the purple waymarkers, 5km trail follow the pink waymarkers and for the 10km trail follow the turquoise ones.

Forest of Dean and Mallard's Pike Lake, All Trails

Forest of Dean and Mallard’s Pike Lake, All Trails

5. Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark

Fifth place takes us back to London to Greenwich Park, which has racked up 228,335 uses of the hashtag #greenwichpark. As well as being a beautiful space which is home to the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and gardens, Greenwich is also home to the meridian line which represents the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero (0° 0′ 0″). Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line. Prime Meridian has served as the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This means runners can literally boast about running from the east to west hemisphere by choosing this park as their running location. A great easy route here is the Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark route, a 4.8km circular trail (below).

Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark, All Trails

Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark, All Trails

Other locations making the top 10 include Sherwood Forest Country Park in Nottinghamshire (171,062 hashtags) and Epping Forest in Essex (151,676 hashtags).

While the royal parks will offer a pretty even surface for running, some of the locations in the list such as West Highland Way, Highlands, and Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, may have more challenging paths which require specialist trail running shoes to protect your ankles and knees when running these routes.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button