Running in beautiful places

Anna Lea, Assistant Editor, National Trust Magazine Anna Lea Assistant Editor, National Trust Magazine
Nostell Priory parkrun

Every week, thousands of people run at Trust places, from historic parkland to wild countryside. In 2015, around 140,000 people took part in an organised run at a Trust place. Add in solo runners and informal groups and that total would probably double.

More than just a run

Part of the Trust’s reason for existence is to provide the ‘physical and spiritual refreshment’ that founder Octavia Hill believed so vital to human well-being, and running at Trust places offers that in spades, no matter what your level of fitness. 
Running routes at Trust places are carefully planned to avoid any negative impact on the plants and wildlife. At Nostell, the 5km course follows the estate paths past rolling pasture and through the woods to the lake before looping back up to the house. 
After crossing the finish line, runners line up for a well-earned breakfast at the Courtyard Café, which opens early on Saturdays for them. The extra income goes straight back to the Trust for its conservation work, so it’s win-win.
Nostell’s weekly run is the result of the Trust’s collaboration with parkrun, a charity that provides free 5km runs every week across the UK and beyond. 
Pat Wood, a regular volunteer and event director, helped set up Nostell’s course. ‘The Trust has been so supportive,’ she says. ‘It’s given so much benefit to all these people. I tell them, if you want to pay something back, join the Trust.’ 
Pat is especially encouraging of the children who join the parkrun. ‘The kids have such energy and ambition. They run with their parents and they’re so proud, they feel ten feet tall. It has a positive effect on the rest of their lives.'
Fell Foot parkrun


Parkruns are held weekly at some of our properties, see a full list here and register for a place

Fitness for all

Anyone wanting to give running a go at a Trust place is spoilt for choice. You can run 5km, 10km or learn trail running. You can join a beginners’ group, bring the buggy, the kids or the dogs. 
Many Trust places host group runs for beginners or more experienced runners. RunTogether groups, for example, are open to all abilities, with a trained Run Leader motivating and guiding the group. Developed by England Athletics, they are currently held at nine Trust places and are set to expand. 

Challenging yourself

You can also tackle more demanding events such as triathlons. The one at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, includes a run through its landscape garden and a swim in its Georgian lake. 
Trail running, or off-road running, is an increasingly popular form of running. At Tyntesfield, Somerset, Mimi Rousell helped to launch Trust10, a national programme of free monthly 10km trail runs at Trust places. 
‘They’re informal and welcoming, and anyone can give them a go,’ she explains. 
‘Trail running can be a bit daunting for people who aren’t used to it, so we are launching a training programme for anyone who wants advice and support to help them complete their first 10km trail run. A few of the Trust10 places will be the first to trial these in September, with a full launch planned for January.’
The Trust also collaborates with runners in local communities. Mel Bound, for example, is founder of women’s running group This Mum Runs. She has been working with Mimi to offer a ten-week ‘couch to 10k’ course for women which concluded with the group running Tyntesfield’s Trust10
 ‘We want to remove the barriers to running,’ explains Mel. ‘We run in the early morning, when the grounds are closed to the public. 
Before every run at Tyntesfield, we stand and listen for a while – it’s so calm and quiet. By the end of the course, the women find their physical fitness is transformed, but so is their confidence.’
This article first appeared in the autumn 2016 edition of National Trust Magazine.
Runners at Longshaw, Burbage and the Eastern Moors, Derbyshire.

See all running events 

Whether you're a beginner or a keen runner, there are many running events taking place across our properties