Though London is a sprawling, busy city packed with historical monuments, tourists, traffic chaos, and frustrated commuters, it boasts some superb running routes. Parks, winding streets and embankments along the river Thames offer a wide variety of views and running surfaces from early in the morning until late evening. There are grassy, sandy, hardened aggregate and asphalt surfaces. The deep, soft soil in the bridleways of London’s parks is suitable only for runners with four legs rather than two, however.
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Located in the suburbs of south west London, this is London’s largest and most beautiful park. It has a 10-mile circumference and numerous footpaths and bridleways. It feels like the middle of the countryside and woodland. You can add distance or cut it out at will. A herd of deer live in this park and can charge at passers-by during the autumn rutting season.
Thames northern towpath
Run along the northern towpath of the Thames from Teddington, the highest upstream extent of seawater, to Richmond, Kingston-upon Thames and Hampton Court. The width of the towpath ranges between six and 10 feet and during weekend mornings is popular with cyclists. There are special paths for runners and pedestrians along the route. At its maximum extent, the route is 10 miles long but there are plenty of exits and access to public transport.
Starting at High Street Kensington, run east towards Kensington Gardens. Continue east inside the park to the Serpentine that marks the western extent of Hyde Park. Note that the two parks merge as one. Run across Hyde Park in a southeast direction to Hyde Park Corner. Cross over Piccadilly to Green Park, passing Buckingham Palace and into St. James’s Park. Continue in the park alongside The Mall up to Admiralty Arch. Run under the Arch and into Trafalgar Square. The route is about eight miles and packed with tourists but road crossings are safe.
St. Paul's - South Bank
For this six-mile route, start at the Jubilee Gardens just down river from Westminster Bridge and follow the Thames South Bank around some of London’s most spectacular river skyline. Pass the South Bank arts centre, the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and the cruiser, HMS Belfast all the way to Tower Bridge. Run along Tower Bridge to the north bank. Turn left and along the Lower and Upper Thames Streets in the City of London, across Blackfriar's Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral. The best time to run here is early morning at weekends when the City is quiet and before visitors pack out the South Bank.
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