An A to Z of FT readers’ favourite city runs

© Malcolm Park/Alamy

Along the Thames: I have enjoyed running from the Tower of London to Battersea Park, heading out on the north side of the Thames and returning on the south. The route is about 13 miles total, and passes many of iconic London landmarks, such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. It’s a great way to see the city via an easy flat run. It is also well signposted along the Thames Path.
— Georgia Begley, finance, London, UK

Hampstead Heath: The best run in London is the full circuit of Hampstead Heath, starting at Parliament Hill playing fields, going all the way up to the West Heath, the Pergola and Hill Garden (a hidden gem), into the Heath Extension and back through Kenwood House to finish on Parliament Hill or, even better, the Highgate Ponds for a post-run dip. It’s all within Zones 2 to 3 of the Underground (around six to eight miles in a loop depending on the precise route). The best time to do it is early, before the crowds descend on Kenwood House and before the ponds become too busy (particularly in summer) and with enough time to pick up an ice cream or coffee at Kenwood House before your dip. The pre-ponds run is the perfect way to warm your body to prepare it for the bracing waters, which are a great post-run recovery aid.

I love this route because it can be done year round and there’s wonderful variety along the way: native and non-native trees, stately homes, hills and viewing points and ponds. Nowhere else in London responds to the seasons like Hampstead Heath.
— Richard Bulmore, lawyer, London, UK

Alexandra Palace: The Alexandra Palace perimeter run (6k): starting clockwise through an avenue of lime trees, the perimeter route proper initially drops away down to a wooded section alongside the Hornsey Water Treatment Works. This buffers the slug of railway tracks leading north out of King’s Cross. The path then opens out and skirts round the southern fields which, until 1970, formed part of a racecourse (it is now a cricket pitch). A heavy uphill eventually winds you out at the south terrace of Alexandra Palace itself, for my money the single best view of London (bar crossing the Thames on a night flight into Heathrow). It is a sweeping vista from Canary Wharf to the BT Tower via the Shard, and you can even make out the radio masts at Crystal Palace on a clear day. The best time to go is first thing when the kids are still asleep. In the winter, the sunrise over the City more than makes up for the cold start. Lung-busting extensions to Highgate Wood and Finsbury Park along the disused railway line (Parkland Walk) for those rare days when 6k and 115m of elevation gain aren’t enough . . .
— Charlie A, dad, London, UK

St James’s Park: My standard run when in London is a 6k around St James’s Park. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful city-run experiences, especially at sunrise.

A run around the park (2k loops) is a treat for the senses. Greenery, geese, lakes and nature are really what make a run special, especially one in the heart of a city and St James’s Park has all of these and much more. You can see the changing of the guard and maybe a palace royalty motorcade, all seamlessly blending with the morning yogis, runners, cyclists and “meditationers”. A café right across the lake is the ideal end to the run. A cup of coffee on a bench watching geese talk and water flow marks the end of a beautiful run and the beginning of an even more beautiful day.
— Rajeev, entrepreneur, Chennai, India

North London: My favourite route starts off near my local pub, the Myddleton Arms (a small pub with a great vibe located on Canonbury Road), running a 5km loop which first winds along the New River Walk to Petherton Road. The New River Walk is a small strip of green space and is great in any season — although I prefer it in late summer and autumn.

The run then meanders down the middle of Petherton Road with a chance to admire the trees lining the path and a reminder to book oneself a table at the classic local haunt Primeur. After Petherton Road I cross into Clissold Park — my favourite park in London (aside from Richmond Park). The path I follow goes past the deer enclosure, which allows for a pit stop if I’m not in the mood to put up a good time on Strava. I then admire the view of the church spire and think of making weekend plans to take a stroll along Church Street or a walk around Abney Park Cemetery.

Finally, on the way back, I huff and puff up the small hill back towards Petherton Road and I’m on the home stretch — for some reason this small hill has a psychological hold on me and I struggle to regain my breath, but typically manage to do so towards the Snooty Fox opposite Canonbury Overground station.

This run is special to me simply because it is my go-to route no matter the weather or the season, and its accompanying sights, smells and sounds will be forever etched in my memory.
— Nick Lindsay, lawyer, London, UK

Back to top


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.