Spring is on its way and with it comes longer days, flowers blooming and (hopefully) drier, warmer weather. Those that prefer running outside may be looking for a route which offers both a running appropriate trail as well as views to boost those dopamine levels.
A new study by New Balance has analysed the number Instagram hashtag uses for 135 UK parks and forests, which advertise running routes and trails, to determine which locations offer runners the opportunity for the most picturesque runs this spring.
The top 20 most scenic running routes for spring in the UK
Rank Location Hashtag No. Instagram hashtags County
1 Regent’s Park #regentspark 467,978 Greater London
2 Richmond Park #richmondpark 466,080 Greater London
3 Hampstead Heath #hampsteadheath 352,779 Greater London
4 Forest of Dean #forestofdean 309,774 Gloucestershire
5 Greenwich Park #greenwichpark 228,335 Greater London
6 Battersea Park #batterseapark 201,704 Greater London
7 Kensington Gardens #kensingtongardens 190,758 Greater London
8 Sherwood Forest Country Park #sherwoodforest 171,062 Nottinghamshire
9 Bushy Park #bushypark 159,668 Greater London
10 Epping Forest #eppingforest 151,676 Essex
11 West Highland Way #westhighlandway 136,038 Highlands
12 Sefton Park #seftonpark 111,007 Merseyside
13 Heaton Park #heatonpark 104,563 Lancashire
14 Tatton Park #tattonpark 101,009 Cheshire
15 Hyde Park #hydeparklondon 81,422 Greater London
16 Bradgate Park #bradgatepark 75,951 Leicestershire
17 Rutland Water #rutlandwater 73,788 Rutland
18 Roundhay Park #roundhaypark 72,603 North Yorkshire
19 Brockwell Park #brockwellpark 71,284 Greater London
20 Wimbledon Common #wimbledoncommon 68,216 Greater London
The top 5 UK spring running routes
1. Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill Circular
Topping the list was Regent’s Park in London with 467,978 uses of the hashtag #regentspark. Regent’s Park offers visitors the chance to see Queen Mary’s Gardens, William Andrews Nesfield’s Avenue Gardens and perhaps even a glimpse of a lion at London Zoo. A popular trail in this park is Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill Circular (see below) which is approximately 6.8 km with an elevation gain of 116 m.
Regent’s Park and Primrose Circular, All Trails
2. Richmond Park loop
In second place was Richmond Park in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames with 466,080 uses of the hashtag #richmondpark. Another royal park and the largest, spreading over 2500 acres. Created by Charles I in the 17th century, it was designed originally to be a deer park and is now an important wildlife conservation area- you can see deer throughout the park in addition to birds and small mammals, making it perfect spring run location. An easy suggested route is the 6.8km Richmond park loop (shown below) which has an elevation gain of 145m. There is also the Tamsin Trail is 7.35 mile (11km) long and takes about an hour to run around the whole lap.
Richmond Park Loop, All Trails
3. Hamstead Health circular
In third was yet another London location, Hampstead Heath with 352,779 uses of the hashtag #hampsteadheath. In fact, nine of the top 20 most scenic locations for a spring run were in London, proving you don’t need to live rurally to experience a picturesque run. Hamstead Health is a wild park of woodland and meadows, tucked inside north London’s Zone Two. The beauty of this location was actually what inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Chronicles of Narnia. A great running route option is Hamstead Health circular (as shown below), this is a 5.5-km circular trail with a 178m elevation gain.
Hamstead Heath Circular, All Trails
4. Forest of Dean Mallard’s Pike trails
Forest of Dean boasts 309,774 uses of the hashtag #forestofdean on Instagram and is the only location outside of London to make the top five. There is an overwhelming amount of nature to observe, from birds, plants and animals such as wild boar- but also film buffs may notice that the forest was used as one of the filming locations used in the Harry Potter movies.
The Forest of Dean offers runners of all abilities different routes to try, with Mallard’s Pike running trails being the best place to start. There are four different trails of increasing distance. For the 2km running trail follow the grey waymarkers, 3km trail follow the purple waymarkers, 5km trail follow the pink waymarkers and for the 10km trail follow the turquoise ones.
Forest of Dean and Mallard’s Pike Lake, All Trails
5. Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark
Fifth place takes us back to London to Greenwich Park, which has racked up 228,335 uses of the hashtag #greenwichpark. As well as being a beautiful space which is home to the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and gardens, Greenwich is also home to the meridian line which represents the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero (0° 0′ 0″). Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line. Prime Meridian has served as the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This means runners can literally boast about running from the east to west hemisphere by choosing this park as their running location. A great easy route here is the Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark route, a 4.8km circular trail (below).
Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark, All Trails
Other locations making the top 10 include Sherwood Forest Country Park in Nottinghamshire (171,062 hashtags) and Epping Forest in Essex (151,676 hashtags).
While the royal parks will offer a pretty even surface for running, some of the locations in the list such as West Highland Way, Highlands and Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire may have more challenging paths which require specialist trail running shoes to protect your ankles and knees when running these routes.