January is just around the corner, which means for many of us, it’s time to try working away from all the fried potatoes, chopped pies and bottles of wine we’ve eaten during the party.
If you’d rather not fight with strangers about cross trainers and free weights in the gym (which is always hell in January), why not see if you can get to jog? Luckily for you, our beloved capital is filled with amazing places where you can run and get your fitness level up to the bottom. From park circuits to river walks, here is our selection of the ten best London running routes:
1. Hyde Park Hustle – two, three or four miles
We could not start this list of the best London running routes without mentioning this gem. Hyde Park is a place on the Class I list, visited by millions of people every year, and is one of the largest city parks in the world. Ok, we may be a little biased, but it’s hard to argue against this claim. It is the largest of the four royal parks in central London and was established in 1536 by King Henry VIII as a hunting ground before becoming famous for demonstrations and protests in the mid-19th century. The current mayor Sadiq Khan even has plans to potentially introduce beavers to it in the near future! If you’re just running around Hyde Park, you’ll go about three miles – add Kensington Gardens, and you’ll extend the route by about a mile. For something a little shorter, make a loop around the Serpentine.
2. A Riverside Ramble – three miles
Of all the places to run in London, along the Thames must be up there with the best of them. Starting at Embankment Station, this three-mile route will take you across the Golden Jubilee Bridge – from where you can enjoy views of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament – before hitting the Southbank. On the way east, you will pass several iconic sites, including the Tate Modern, the National Theater and the Royal Festival Hall, before crossing the Millennium Bridge from Harry Potter fame. If you turn back west, you hit the Embankment again and pass Somerset House and Victoria Embankment Gardens along the way.
A Battersea Park Belts – two and a half miles
If you’re in Chelsea or South West London, then this is a great opportunity to kickstart your January fitness regime. Once a popular venue for historic duels – yep, really – it is now considered one of the most charming parks south of the river. Start at the entrance to Albert Gate, drive south and take a whole loop of the park, which will take you past the beautiful boating lake, tennis courts and children’s zoo, which is home to otters, squirrels and even armadillos! Finish the run with a section right on the Thames, which will give you views of the London Peace Pagoda and the Albert Bridge along the way. For something a little different, take this route as the sun goes down and watch the bridge’s approximately 4,000 LED lights flash in the dark.
4. St James’ Park Figure of eight – two or three miles
Another of the city’s royal parks, St James’, is without a doubt one of London’s most picturesque sites and offers views of famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and The Mall from its outskirts. It is also famous for its resident population of pelicans – yes, you read that right – which was donated to King Charles II by a Russian ambassador in 1664, and a population has been here ever since. You can either choose to take a short two mile route around the park and down The Mall, or you can add Green Park and a loop around Buckingham Palace to extend the route. Come here in the right season and you might see the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom.
5. A royal ring in Regents Park – just under three miles
Yep – another Class I-listed Royal Park here. This one is named after Prince Regent (AKA King George IV), whose nickname was * ahem * playboy prince. Speaking of ‘play’, it is also home to central London’s largest outdoor sports area, and it has a boat lake, an outdoor theater and gardens with over 12,000 roses. It is also home to the ZSL London Zoo – the world’s oldest scientific zoo – so you can see if you can see the resident lions, giraffes, camels and penguins while sweating with a bow around the park. To extend the route and add a harder section uphill, cross the Regent’s Canal and run to the top of the famous Primrose Hill, which still holds the title of the most scenic view in London. You can also tackle this route and move on up to Hampstead Heath on a set of two wheels if you prefer.
6. Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark – two and a half miles
The UNESCO-listed Greenwich is a lovely place to take a few hours away, allowing you to explore places including the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and some of London’s most charming riverside pubs. Not to mention the Cutty Sark – a 19th century vessel that claims to be one of the most famous ships in the world with towering masts, an iconic copper hull and more than 11 miles worth of rigging! Add a loop around Greenwich Park with its deer park, landscaped gardens and unrivaled views of the cityscape, and you’ve got yourself a worthy addition to this list of London running routes. When you’re done, why not fill yourself up with a bite to eat in one of SE10’s best restaurants?
7. Pound Path, Regent’s Row and Victoria Park – four and a half miles
A slightly longer route, this is a great one to “knock on the sidewalk” as it was and take in some of East London’s best places. Starting at The Glory – one of London’s best LGBTQ + bars – head down the Regent’s Canal and follow the Regent’s Row and Pound Path to Victoria Park. As one of London’s most popular parks, this large open space in Tower Hamlets is famous for its summer festivals, water fountain and two cafés – both of which serve a good cup of coffee. A loop around here will see you pass two of East London’s favorite pubs – the People’s Park Tavern and the Royal Inn on the Park – Oval Space and the beloved Broadway Market.
8. A Whiz Around Walthamstow Wetlands – four miles plus
Another one for East Londoners and a solid addition to this list of London running routes, this one will give you the chance to get out of the city and surround yourself with nature in the Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve – London’s largest. Established through a partnership between the London Wildlife Trust, Thames Water and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, it is a serene site that hosts a wide range of wildlife, including rare waterfowl, raging bats and numerous species of birds of prey. See if you can spot any of these as you walk along a circular route, which should be about four to five miles or so long. You can extend this by adding Hackney Marshes or a stretch along the Lea – Adele old treadmill that she made clear in her album 25. Top Tip: After the run, head up the Grade II-listed Coppermill Tower to get some beautiful epic views of London.
9. Tamsin’s Trail in Richmond Park – seven miles
One could argue that Richmond Park is the very best of London’s running routes. But hey, we’re not here to judge – we’ll leave that to you. Following the perimeter of the park itself, Tamsin’s Trail will take you along green, wooded avenues past ponds and up gentle, rolling hills from which you can see London in the distance. Of course, it would not be Richmond Park without stopping to admire the herds of native deer here – note to yourself, if you bring a dog, keep it on a leash. You do not want them to be the next Fenton! After the run, grab a cup and a slice of cake in the sweet-as-a-button Hollyhock Café.
10. The Railway Run – four miles
The last part on this list of the best London running routes is the Parkland Walk, which takes you from Finsbury Park to the Highgate along an abandoned railway line. As London’s longest nature reserve, you may be lucky enough to see some of the resident wildlife along the way, and you will pass abandoned railway platforms, graffiti walls and even a sculpture of a Cornish sprite, known as a Spriggan, towards the Crouch End section of the trail. To extend the route, add a loop of Finsbury Park or head up to Ally Pally to enjoy some epic city views.
Also published on Medium.