Let’s Get Running founder Shaun Dixon presents his pick of London’s best running routes - with a glorious final destination
Feeling inspired to get outside and stomp through some crisp autumn days? Grab your running shoes and embark on one of these top trails, with a richly deserved and very foamy reward at the end.
1. Run with wild deer!
Richmond Park to Home Park (view route)
Best for: Feeling like you’re in a rural area where you can really get lost. It’s big, beautiful, flat, and has lots of trails – you can push yourself hard over long uninterrupted distances, doing 20 miles in a couple of laps around Richmond Park, or jogging across to Bushy Park where the first ever park run was held.
Stop here, Instagram this: Hampton Court Palace in Home Park, where Henry VIII used to do Henry VIII things (bang tables and mainline grog).
Reward yourself here: The Albany is a quaint riverside pub with a refreshingly classic feel – you could be in a village in Somerset – that should hammer home how far away from “proper London” you really are.
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2. Do it like an Olympian!
Angel to Walthamstow Wetlands (view route)
Best for: Spotting a peregrine falcon one minute, dredging up shameful Lovebox memories the next. This East London run covers everything from Victoria Park (which demands a loop round and a covert stop at the Pavilion Café) to the Olympic Park. You can either stop there or carry on towards the Walthamstow Wetlands, a gigantic nature reserve covering 10 reservoirs that are officially Europe’s largest urban wetlands.
Stop here, Instagram this: There’s a mill in the wetlands that’s been on-site since 1086 – snap it against the backdrop of Canary Wharf in the distance, whack on a black and white filter, caption it “JUXTAPOSITION #1 IN GRAYSCALE” and watch as four likes dribble in from your alt accounts.
Reward yourself here: The Neckstamper Brewery (E10) for a hearty portion of its Super Squencher double IPA.
3. Train like the stars!
The City to Battersea Park (view route)
Best for: A Marathon training session. The wide roads emulate marathon-running conditions, and since each lap of Battersea Park is about 2.8km it’s easy to measure and judge your pacing. It’s quite an inconspicuous place but most of London’s best train there; the park is a mecca where all the top marathon runners gather, especially if you go for a session on a Thursday.
Stop here, Instagram this: Become the Claude Monet of photo-sharing apps with a stunning shot of the Houses of Parliament as the sun goes down.
Reward yourself here: The Draft House, Westbridge is the ideal spot for a sweat-drenched refuel.
4. Sprint past a sphinx!
Ladywell to Dulwich Wood (view route)
Best for: Getting way off the beaten track and onto some really varying trails, from riverside pathways to forests. The Waterlink Way incorporates the recently “re-wilded” river Ravensbourne, so-called because Julius Caesar supposedly saw a raven at its source, which is still home to enough avian wildlife to send John Craven searching for the defibrillator. If you shout “Zoiks! A sand martin!” as you bound past a creek then you can pretty much guarantee a little gathering of birdwatchers will flip their sh*t.
Stop here, Instagram this: The Italian terraces in Crystal Palace Park have a proper ancient Roman majesty to them, particularly on a crisp day.
Reward yourself here: Stop by The Crown & Greyhound for a quintessentially Dulwich laid-back atmosphere and a decent selection of fizzers.
5. Race against the clock!
Blackheath to Tower Bridge (view route)
Best for: Going up and down sharp inclines and along meandering terrain that chops and changes a lot. There’s a hill in Greenwich Park which is pretty tough, and you’ve got the steps going underneath the Thames and back up the other side which can be challenging, too. The variety of the views is stunning – there’s the serenity of Blackheath, the grandness of Greenwich, the iconic buildings of Canary Wharf and the majesty of the ornamental canal.
Stop here, Instagram this: Tower Bridge – an oldie but a goldie. And you can smugly correct any nearby tourists calling it London Bridge.
Reward yourself here: Butlers Wharf Chop House for a bottle of Schiehallion overlooking the river.
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(Images: Getty, George Johnson)