With cooler temperatures and seasonal beauty, autumn is a great time to take part in parkrun – the free, 5km timed runs that take place every week all over the UK.
Suitable for beginners and athletes alike, parkrun is a great way to meet new friends, get fit, and enjoy the natural beauty of an area – whether it’s your local green space or somewhere you’re heading on holiday. Travel editor Angelica Malin rounds up some of the best spots and asks the parkrun insiders for their tips…
Known as one of the most scenic parkruns in the UK, the Milton Keynes parkrun covers the Grand Union Canal and the shores of Willen Lake. This is the perfect run for beginners: not too challenging, with lots of leafy sights along the way.
Insider tip: “As you head downhill towards the lake, look right and give a nod to the Peace Pagoda – a beautiful embodiment of the love and community spirit behind parkrun.” Gareth Snelson, Milton Keynes parkrun event director.
For a great parkrun in Wales, discover Colby in Pembrokeshire. A run here will take you through the woodland garden, where you can spot local wildlife, including the occasional otter. You can also marvel at the UK’s tallest Japanese Redwood or spy the remainders of the garden’s industrial past, including old mine entrances.
Insider tip: Want to be involved but don’t feel up to running? Sign up as a volunteer to help run the event. “We like to recognise and publicly thank all our volunteers. Your name will appear on our home page in the ‘This Week’s Heroes’ section.” Colby parkrun volunteers.
Photo: National Trust / James Dobson
3. Eaton Park
Known as one of Norwich’s most beautiful historic parks, Eaton Park stretches for 80 acres. You’ll see beautiful Grade II listed buildings and a miniature railway along the way. There’s also an onsite coffee shop where you can recharge after your run.
Insider tip: “It’s a lovely three-lap route with friendly volunteers and it is extremely well organised.” Norwich parkrunner Linda Walker.
This is an iconic place for runners. With acres of grassland, hedgerows, ponds and wetlands you’ll forget you’re only 6km from Trafalgar Square. There are two different courses to keep your on your toes, and although the routes are quite tough-going, it’s all worth it when you can enjoy a restorative snack at the nearby Euphorium Bakery.
Insider tip: “The team spirit is amazing. Fellow parkrunners encouraged me when I was trying to complete my first lap.” parkrunner Amanda Lawrence, whose usual parkrun is Mernda, Australia.
Osterley Park is in West London, and is one of the largest open spaces in the capital. Your run will take you through the National Trust property where landscaped gardens and a tranquil lake surround an impressive Georgian mansion. It’s an idyllic place to be on a crisp, autumn morning.
Insider tip: “Beware of the surprisingly leg-sapping climb as you come out of the woods on each lap. It’s a brilliant challenge.” Osterley run director, Chris Maybin.
Springburn Park in Glasgow is one of the highest parks in the north of the city. You’ll be running 364 feet above sea level, which offers impressive views of the Ben Lomond mountain, The Trossachs (Scottish glens) and the hills of Argyllshire.
Insider tip: “Once you’ve conquered the course, you can celebrate your success with our PB bell.” Springburn parkrun event director, Suzanne Shaw.
This parkrun in Leicestershire takes place in the heart of the National Forest. You’ll start and finish at the Conkers Waterside, and cross trails in the Donisthorpe Woodland Park, a former coal mine that has been lovingly restored. A mixture of woodland, gravel, tarmac and stone paths means there’s plenty of variety.
Insider tip: “As you make your way along the disused railway line, count the old bridges to distract you from Cheeky Hill almost halfway around.” parkrun team member, Lyndsey Hill.
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