Our City Runs series this week comes from our home patch, London, and features 5k and 10k loops along the South Bank and Embankment. We also have suggestions for other London runs in the city’s parks and along its rivers and canals.
South Bank and Embankment
See the magnificent sights of London in under 1 hour
In under an hour a 10k loop of the South Bank, Embankment and North Banks of the River Thames passes the London Eye, the London Aquarium, the Oxo Tower, the Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Cleopatra’s Needle, the Embankment and Big Ben. Could sightseeing get any more efficient?!
Starting from Westminster Bridge head east along the South Bank passing the London Aquarium, London Eye and National Theatre in quick succession then after a while you pass the Oxo tower and onwards under the Millennium Bridge with Tate Modern on the right. For a shorter 5k loop, cross the Millennium Bridge and turn left along the Embankment to Westminster Bridge.
Just before Southwark Cathedral you are forced to leave the river briefly along Clink Street passing the Golden Hind and Southwark Cathedral before returning to the river just before London Bridge. Cross at Tower Bridge and, after the Tower of London, you are again forced to leave the river, dropping back just before the Blackfriars underpass. The remainder of the route along the Embankment sticks almost entirely to the river as Big Ben beckons you home.
There are plenty of stations along the way so you could start pretty much anywhere on the route. For example we offer the 5k loop as a guided run for members of the Ned, dropping down to the river from Bank.
5k loop from the Ned next to Bank station
Other London runs
Of course there are many other great routes around London, especially through the parks and along the canals. These are some of our favourites:
1) The parks of Central London, often called the City’s green lungs, offer great routes for running. We love Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park (7km combined perimeter); and Green Park/St James’s Park (3.9km perimeter). If you fancy a long run it’s very easy to combine them, as they are close by and link up well.
2) In North London you can’t get better than Regent’s Park/Primrose Hill (6.5km combined perimeter) with stunning views of the City with London Zoo in the foreground. Further out hit the hills and trails of Hampstead Heath making sure to take in Parliament Hill. The fact that the Southern Counties cross country championships are held here tells you something about the terrain!
3) Our absolute favourites are Richmond Park (11.7km perimeter as per the Tamsin Trail) and Wimbledon Common (7km perimeter) in South West London. If you’re feeling more adventurous leave the perimeter trails and lose yourself exploring the depths of both parks.
Picking up the pace in Richmond Park
4) The Lea Valley and Olympic Park. For a slightly more urban experience with some great street art head east to the River Lea and the Olympic Park. These routes are better accessed from Hackney Wick Station rather than Stratford to avoid the congestion of the Westfield shopping centre. From Hackney Wick it’s a short jog to the Lea Navigation. Turning left you can make a 5k loop of the Hackney Marshes playing fields heading out along the Navigation and back along the River Lea. Alternatively turn right and cross at the first bridge to explore the iconic Olympic Park.
Heading for the Olympic Park alongside the River Lea
These are just a few of our personal favourites. For more ideas take a look at The Runner’s Guide to London. or check out @lovelondonrunning on social media.
5 Top Tips for Running in London
1) Like with any city be careful crossing roads and be prepared to wait at traffic lights.
2) Consider running without headphones as they will make you much less aware of traffic. Let the city be your soundtrack.
3) Take a contactless credit card for transport to/from your run, or for a post-run coffee.
4) London is largely a safe city, but if you're running at night and are unsure of the area we recommend running in a group.
5) Plan your route in advance – shun the busiest areas and seek out London’s magical parks, canals and backstreets.
We hope you enjoy running in London and please drop us a line to let us know how you get on!