3 scenic running routes to try in London
Running coach Cory Wharton-Malcolm, shares three of his personal favourite London running routes.
1. The Wedding Cake – 10k
Perfect for… Mastering those hills
I live in an area of South London predominantly built up of both steep and gradual hills, and no real flat terrain in sight. But although you might not think it, this kind of training can be incredibly beneficial when you are just getting into running, as it can feel unnecessarily hard.
So to try and protect both my body and my fragile ‘new runner ego’, I would pick running routes that I could cut short, double back on or on the odd occasion lengthen. As time passed and my fitness and confidence grew I put together a route that for a long time I couldn’t complete without stopping. Nowadays it still tests me, which is one of the many reasons I still run it. Boasting many tiers and levels, this run is called The Wedding Cake.
- Firstly, we start off at the bottom of Sydenham Road and go straight into a climb – at which point you will more than likely feel like you’ve made a mistake, but just keep on going nice and steady.
- The climb is gradual until you hit Kirkdale, at which point it gets steeper, then a little steeper again. But when you get to the top it’s a pretty view.
- Turn left, and then look out for a right into Dulwich woods – which you run all the way through until you pop out on Dulwich Common feeling like a superhero.
- Keep the momentum going as you run along Dulwich Common, but conserve your energy slightly for when you turn left onto College Road, and begin a steady climb.
- When you hit Sydenham Hill station, take a left up Low Cross Wood Lane, where the climb is super steep – so go slowly, take lots and of deep breaths, walk if you need to, and keep smiling.
- You will summit on Crescent Wood Road, then take an immediate right onto Sydenham Hill and allow yourself to recover, before taking a left at Westwood Hill and picking up the pace as you race downhill to where you started – Sydenham Road. You’ll be tired, but beaming!
2. The London Tourist Run – 5k
Perfect for… Dodging the crowds
If I’m in central London and fancy a run, then this is one of my favourite running routes for when I’m keen to keep away from the traffic, and enjoy some scenery. Covering St James’s Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park, it’s a lovely way to explore some of London’s Royal Parks. The beauty of this route is that you can just keep going straight and you’ll hit Queensway, Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Shepherds Bush and so on. It’s a great one for building on!
- Start off at Big Ben, and head down Birdcage Walk – which is the last leg of the London Marathon.
- Take a right past Buckingham Palace, cross the road over into Green Park, and then run all the way through the park up to Green Park station.
- Turn left and run along Piccadilly, and then cross the road twice to enter Hyde Park.
- Now it’s time to really go for it – pick up the pace as you run through the park, keeping Park Lane on your right hand side, and follow the track down to Speakers’ Corner.
- Then, bear left down Hyde Park Place, and keep on running until you hit Lancaster Gate station – which will make it 5k.
3. The Snake Run – 10k
Perfect for… Classic London views
One of the greatest running routes for watching the sunrise or sunset, this is a great one for taking your mind off everything going on around you, and enjoying the surroundings.
You can start this route at any point you like really, but I like to begin on the south-side of Tower Bridge, before zig-zagging my way across the Thames.The route:
- Start it on the south-side of Tower Bridge, before crossing over to the north-side, and making your way down Tower Wharf. Keep going until you arrive at London Bridge.
- Cross the water through Borough Market over Southwark Bridge, then turn left onto Upper Thames Street – admiring St Pauls along the way – before heading up and over Millennium Bridge.
- Once you are over Millennium Bridge, run along the South Bank, before crossing over Blackfriars Bridge.
- Run past Temple, down Victoria Embankment and over Waterloo Bridge.
- Head towards the London Eye, but take a right onto the Golden Jubilee Bridge – and even though you’re starting to feel tired, remember that you’ve only got three bridges left.
- Zigzag your way across Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, and finally Vauxhall Bridge. An iconic London run!
Cory Wharton-Malcolm – aka @bitbeefy – is the founder of London’s cult TrackMafia club, host of new Podcast The Tub Hub, one of Nike Running’s Head Coaches, Voice-Over-Artist, fitness facilitator, consultant and all-round creative.