Running routes for beginners
There’s a reason why Father Christmas is rotund. A season stuffed full of mince pies and sherry is enough to get anyone out of shape.
The good news is there are loads of beautiful places across the country waiting for you and your running shoes to arrive. From gentle lake-side runs, to coastal paths, to routes through rolling meadows, there’s an outdoor gym for everyone. So if your body feels a little too Christmas-pudding-shaped and you fancy getting fit take a look at our shortlist of fantastic running routes for beginners.
Osterley Park is just a tube ride away from central London and it’s a great escape from the city. Surrounded by ancient meadows, parks and farmland, this is one of the last surviving country estates in London. What better place to start running?
If you’d rather run as part of a group, come along to the Osterley parkrun. This is a free 5km run that happens every Saturday. It's for runners of all standards so you can go at your own pace.
Other running routes in London:
* Morden Hall Park is a green oasis in the city, with running routes that skirt the River Wandle and take you through meadows and wetlands. You can also join our running group there. Call 020 8545 6850 for more information
With more than 3,800 acres of parkland, heath and woods Clumber Park is the perfect place to give running a go. There are tarmacked routes and woodland paths so you can enjoy a run here with road or trail running shoes. The area is mostly flat, with small inclines and you can get all the details of our different routes at the information point. You can also join the Clumber parkrun at 9am every Saturday for free. This is a 5km run.
Gibside is a real taste of the country on the edge of the city. There are winding paths, refreshing open spaces and elegant historical buildings. Print out one of our downloadable routes to hit the trails today.
Or if you need a bit of encouragement join us for our free friendly run up the Avenue and around the estate, every Friday at 5.30 – 6.30pm. Our new parkrun also starts on 22 February 2014.
Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punchball is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here you can run through ancient woods and across open heathland past cattle and wild ponies. All of the trails start at the café – which can act as a good incentive for those who are new to running.
Other running routes in the South East:
* Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire, has miles of footpaths through woodlands, commons and chalk downlands. There is also a café for after your run
* Surrounded by the lovely Surrey Hills, Polesden Lacey is a great place to start your run
* Flat running routes alongside canals can be found at the River Wey, Surrey
* Run around the parks and woodland of a fairytale castle at Scotney Castle, Kent. You can always stop in at the café to recuperate afterwards
There’s a wide choice of trails for runners at Castle Ward. You can run past loughs, a 15th century castle and stunning scenery. With five multipurpose routes to choose from there is something for all fitness levels. Visitors are all given a map of the castle grounds when they arrive at the ticket hut.
‘If you haven’t got trail running shoes the flat run around Grasmere lakeshore is the one for you. For runners who do have the right shoes there are loads of beautiful trails to explore. Don’t let the hilly nature of this area put you off. Beginners can still enjoy the breath-taking views by walking up-hill and jogging down dale.
‘If you’re starting to run in the dark days of January it can be nice to have a target to work towards. Join us for our Grasmere Gallop, in June: an inclusive running event for all abilities.’
- David A, trail runner and staff member at Grasmere
‘This is a lovely running spot for beginners, with lots of places where you can stop to catch your breath and enjoy the view. I often run around our lakes. This route is approximately 5k long and the paths are relatively flat and solid. There’s also lots of wildlife in this area and if you go running early enough you might even see an otter.’
- Rhian S, keen runner and member of staff at Stackpole Outdoor Learning Centre
During busy periods park at the National Trust car park at Bosherson and you can pick up a map from a member of staff. When it’s winter or during quieter periods it’s best to call into reception at Stackpole Outdoor Learning Centre for more information about our routes.
Other running routes in Wales:
* The Cemlyn Nature Reserve, Anglesey, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Both the shingle ridge route and the circular route are suitable for running beginners. Please note that this reserve is run by the North Wales Wildlife Trust
* Tredegar House, Newport, hosts a weekly parkrun for runners of all abilities
There are miles of public footpaths to enjoy through the Dedham Vale: an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the inspiration for Constable’s famous paintings. This 6.4km route starts at Manningtree station and takes you past panoramic views, water meadows and a peaceful river. The end point of the run is not far from Flatford where you can reward yourself at the riverside tea-room with our scone of the month. For a shorter route start and finish your run at Flatford.
Other running routes in the East of England
* The 5km course at Sheringham Park, Norfolk, is perfect for beginners. This is the course used for our weekly parkrun, but it can be accessed at any time
* There are plenty of flat trails at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire, taking you past Konik ponies and Highland Cattle. Call into the Visitor Centre for more information
With rolling countryside, woods and tracks, Nostell Park is an ideal place for a run. Visitors can explore 300 acres of parkland with a range of trails. Follow our marked routes to pass through peaceful woodland, enjoy lakeside views and discover the Obelisk Lodge. There will also be a parkrun starting here in January 2014.
‘We get a lot of interest in our parkrun. These are super friendly events, with a strong sense of community. They’re open to all abilities, happen every Saturday morning, and are followed by tea and cake in the café.
‘Killerton is the ultimate antidote to road running, with 6,400 acres of parkland, rolling hills and dense woodlands. This includes over 60 miles of footpaths.’
- Laurence Eastment, staff member and keen runner
Other running routes in the South West:
* Woolacombe, in Devon, is home to some fantastic running routes. Join local ranger and Run England trainer, Jonathon, for our beginners running group. Each run is a couple of miles long and includes warm up and warm down sessions. For more information call 01271 870555 or email Jonathon
* It has been said that up to 12 counties can be seen from May Hill, Herefordshire. The run to the top is all uphill but this is a short route so will be manageable for most beginners