Getting away from it all in the city

Recently I have been seeking out ways to run off-road. Good for the legs and great for the soul! So I have discovered a few routes around my home in London where there is mud, grass and trails beneath ones feet and trees and meadows in front of ones eyes. These urban trails are perfect for easy or steady runs (although the recent heavy rain has made the going difficult and turned my shoes a rather unattractive brown colour) and really enhance the feeling of getting away from all the pressures of modern life for an hour or two.

One of my favourite runs is along the Parklands walk in north London: a disused railway line that really feels like a countryside trail in the centre of the city…

Parklands Walk: a trail oasis in the middle of the city.

So I was wondering if you could help me find more urban trail routes? Whether you are in London or Lisbon, York or New York, I would love to know where you go to get off the road when you run. I’ll then start to compile a little list and share it back with you. It would be great if you can give me a little bit of geographical location information and a short description and you can either put that in a comment to this post or email me at

As for my trail run today…? That will be a regular route that my running club uses around Hampstead Heath and the Heath Extension. Bring on the mud!

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About simon

I run marathons. Everything else is a result of that.

5 Responses to “Getting away from it all in the city”

  1. Naomi January 3, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Muddy running in Manchester – there is a great route in South Manchester along the Mersey river where you can run from Stockport through Didsbury & Chorlton all the way through to Sale water park. I used it lots when training for a marathon as you can easily do double digits in miles if you go for a good explore. It makes a pleasant change from pounding the pavement.

    • Stu H January 21, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Agreed Naomi! I reckon we must have passed each other down the Mersey! Though I tend to start at the Manchester ship canal in Castlefields and do the big loop round Manchester, past United, down to Sale, then along the Mersey to Didsbury and back into town (
      Any variations of this route welcomed back!

  2. Phil Szomszor (@theredrocket) January 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    I used to run up the Hampstead Heath extension when I lived in West Hampstead – always loved that route. The other side of the Heath, around Queen’s Wood is worth a trip too. Nowadays I’m in Hertfordshire, so can run a different countryside route every time if I like. :-)

    Do you use MapMyRun or Garmin to record your routes?

  3. Patrik January 5, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    London has commons and parks but not many trails. Wimbledon Common a must, nice 10k loop. Stretch along Beverley Brook my fave stretch in London. Can obviously pop into Richmond Park to extend. It’s not all trail but a novel running route is following Wandle canal from Croydon to Thames (~14mi).
    Ally Pally trail a cracker indeed.

  4. The Fool January 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    In Swindon there is a mountain bike trail that has been built in some woods that I often run at a lunch time about 5k in length and full of berms and switchbacks make it great fun to run as long as you look out for the bikes :)

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