Parkrun

I love parkrun and ever since going to my first one in 2011 I've been a regular, and become an active tourist where you frequent many different parkrun events around the country.

Here's a list of all the events that I've been to (137 different ones so far, including 8 international ones), and as I prefer flat, fast courses I am always keen to review each one by their terrain as to how easy or difficult they are.

Terrain Ratings

So here's my ratings guide, with '1' being the easiest, and where you should be able to record faster, times with '5' are the hardest, and your times will be slower! And score of '0' by the way would apply to a totally flat running track, but no parkrun is ever that flat.

1 - Completely flat, or so near to be flat that you don't notice a gradient at all
2 - Looks flat, but when you run it you then realise there are some obvious gradients
3 - Noticeable gradients before you run it, that you can feel whilst running it too
4 - It's a hilly course with several steep gradients
5 - A very steep course, with severe hill and gradients

With all of these I would be inclined to add one (+1) to any course that is on grass on trail when it has been raining. Such course become very muddy, and poor ground conditions just make them even harder!

London Parkruns

Ally Pally

Gradient 4I found the best way to get here was to use Alexander Palace station and not Wood Green Underground. It has a Summer and a Winter course - I went in the winter which is supposedly slightly faster, but still found it really tough going! It's half on a gravel path, half on tarmac, it undulates a LOT with a tight bend, a narrow gate that everyone has to funnel through and nasty slippy downhill part as well makes this an interesting course! Some great views though as you're high up.

There is a café and toilet but they're a short walk away from the start. A good local friendly turnout with lots of regulars, and one that I would like to come back and run in the summer.

Barking

Gradient 4Two anti-clockwise laps of a the park, past a boating lake and it's all on tarmac, mostly gentle turns but one sharp bend where a post is almost in the way! I've seen people describe this being as 'As flat as they come', but there are flatter in London - and really this should be graded as a '1.5' terrain, but that might be picky as this is certainly a place to get a fast time and a potential PB, so it's a '1'.

Really nice size - averages around 80 people, super nice volunteers and there were cakes at the end too! The toilets were open but the café oddly was not on the day I was here. It's a ten minute walk from Barking station, or two stops on the bus from there, so easy to get to.

Beckenham Place

Gradient 4It's two clockwise laps of Beckenham Place park - mostly on grass, some on trail and a small part on tarmac. There's one narrow part of the course where depending on how slow/fast you are you might meet runners coming the other way!

There aren't any facilities here, but they hope to have some in future. Ravensbourne station is really close by, less than 5 minutes walk to get to the start/finish point. I got the results through before 11am.

Beckton

Gradient 4Two anti-clockwise laps of the park, including a straight 'out and back' bit, where you do a 180 degrees turn around a lamppost. The course is half on grass, half on tarmac and for the grass plus a couple of humps in places it gets a '2', but it's relatively fast course.

The start is over by the children's playground where there are toilets. The finish is a small spur off - again on grass.

When I was there, the lovely volunteers had free teas and coffees and sweets and biscuits, and even book-swap going on! They took all day to process the results though, rather than doing them immediately after the race.

Bedfont Lakes

Gradient 4Two clockwise laps of the park on gravel paths. It's an old quarry meaning that there are several small dips and gradients. There is a car park, but no convenient nearby train station for public transport. There are toilets, but no café.

Bethlem Royal Hospital
May 2019

Gradient 4Get to Bethlem Royal parkrun using Eden Park railway station. It's in the grounds of a hospital where everyone is welcome to come along and run. There is a huge grassy area out the back of the woods on the site of the hospital, and here you do two anti-clockwise figures of '8' laps on grassy narrow trails with a pinch point in the middle, and then a woodland dog leg at the end to finish.

It doesn't seem to undulate, but there are some gradients there so it's not completely flat. There's a café on site with toilets too.

Bexley

Gradient 4A surprisingly tougher course than you might first think! It's two anti-clockwise laps (with the halfway almost perfectly at the start/finish point after one lap) on a course that it mainly paths, but then goes to rough trail, and small amount of grass as well.

It is not flat though, and the winter it would get very wet. There is one strange right-hand turn in particular where you almost run into a gate, and you have to slow to turn to avoid it - and this comes immediately before a sharp uphill bit which is a slog, especially on the second time around.

The car-park is a short walk from the start/finish but there is café/toilet facilities here, although I didn't use them on the time I came. A nice touch is the permanent parkrun markers on the tarmac paths which have been painted on here

Brockwell Park

Gradient 4Easy to get to - the start us under five minutes walk from Herne Hill station, it's two anti-clockwise laps around this park which all on tarmac except for the last 50 metres when you turn into the grass for the finish, but that hardly counts!

I had been told this this was hilly and was expecting it to be tougher than it was, there are two hill parts easily making it a '3' but it didn't real feel that difficult. The start is right by the Lido where they don't let you use the toilet facilities, unless you are a member, or pay a charge to get in. Same goes for the café too, which felt a bit mean.

An odd touch was that they didn't set up the finish funnel until after the race had started. So people put coats and bags by a tree near to what becomes the finish area.

Bromley

Gradient 4A flattish course that's now all on tarmac paths. There is a slight incline at one point, but you may not even noticed it! It's two and a half clockwise laps around Norman Park and is one of my favourite courses to do.

They get lots of people - with friendly people, place to lock bikes, toilets, and they give you a free tea and coffee afterwards, which is great! On the day I went, the results came through before 10.30, which is the fastest I have ever got my time through.

Burgess Park

Gradient 4One of my favourites, it's a fast flat course that for while was my PB course.

It's a long stretch out, two clockwise laps around a lake and then back again. It's almost totally flat, except for one small 'dip' that goes under a bridge - you do in once just after the start, and again just before the finish on the way back.

There are two 'funnels' at the start but can be crowded, it you are fussy about your time you will want to be at the front, otherwise it will take you a small number of seconds to cross the start line.

Friendly, snacks and drinks were available afterwards - there are toilets and tea and the Tennis café as well. One thing to note is that people meet beforehand at the finish, then walk a small way to the start-line - you can leave your coat/bag at the finish line.

Bushy Park

Gradient 4The original parkrun! Attracts several hundred people, so the main issue is that you may not get across the starting line for several seconds.

It's one huge lap around the park, and at the finish there are multiple funnels and many bar code scanners at the end to cope with the large number of people. It also gets even busier on the date of its anniversary. There's a café with toilets here.

Canons Park

Gradient 4This is a three lap course in an anti-clockwise direction, with half on tarmac, half on hard trail - oh and a small piece of grass too that doesn't get too muddy in the winter. The start is right by some toilets and there is a serving hatch when you can get tea and cake and crisps - sometimes open before nine o'clock, which you might want.

I think this is the only parkrun in London, where you can see and hear Tube trains rattling along beside you at the Jubilee line up to Stanmore passes right alongside, thus making it a doddle to get there on public transport.

Catford

Gradient 4"It's not as hilly as Hilly Fields!" joked a friendly volunteer to me as I arrived at the inaugural opening - but it does feel like the 'sister' run to Hilly Fields, a mini version of it. Twisty, undulating, twisty again for two and a half laps with a lot of it on grass - going to be muddy in winter - meant that this fair weathered runner who likes tarmac did not enjoy this course.

Doesn't mean that it's not a good parkrun though, great to have another one in south east London, and there was an excellent first-day vibe and enthusiasm amongst the volunteers and runners, great stuff. Toilets and café here too.

Clapham Common

Gradient 4Two clockwise laps around the outside of the north part of the common. The start is a short walk from the finish, and the course is 80% on trail, the rest on a tarmac path. The week I went it was really well marshaled which was good, because there are several points where you could take a wrong turn, so this event really does rely on lots of great volunteers.

There's not café or toilets near the start/finish in the park, but there are facilities elsewhere, and the shops nearby at Clapham South tube (the nearest to the event - not Clapham Common!) provide everything you might need.

Crane Park

Gradient 4One and a half laps of a lovely park on paths, with a small amount of on-street running on the pavement by the roads at each end. Almost completely flat the whole way round, although there is a sudden sharp turn at the finish to end. The start and the finish are not at the same place, but the volunteers kindly move any coats/bags to the finish for you.

Getting there by public transport is tricky, so it may be better to drive with limited on street parking. There are no toilets or café here.

Crystal Palace

Gradient 4This is a hilly one! It used to be two clockwise laps all on tarmac and paths which took in a really steep hill which let you speed on the way back down. You repeated it twice,

In 2017, the course was changed and goes up the big hill only once, around a flat part at the top then back down and loops around the lake and the Dinosaurs. There are toilets here, and an excellent new café too.

Dulwich Park

Gradient 4A three lap course, going anti-clockwise around the lovely Dulwich Park. There is a slight incline immediately after the start (and every lap) which is why this is a '2' and not a '1' - maybe it should be a '1.5' ! As it's certainly mostly flat, all on tarmac and fast times are possible here. Friendly people and a cute café/toilets afterwards too to grab a cuppa.

Finsbury Park

Gradient 4Finsbury Park is a big park with wide path - great for a large sized parkrun with several hundred people. It's two anti-clockwise laps of the park with one long straight section, some undulating uphill sections. It's all tarmac though with a few twists and turns to break it up and make it an interesting course.

The first time I went in was a blazing hot day with no shade on the long section and it was extremely hot! There's a great café in here in the park with toilets where everyone goes afterwards to chat, and process the results.

Foots Cray Meadows

Gradient 4London's 53rd parkrun is almost all on grass and trail with only a short section on tarmac path. It's a big clockwise loop, with then a smaller clockwise loop. It's flat in elevation, but is mostly on bump grass which will no doubt churn up during the winter.

The nearest station to get there is Albany Park, but most people that went drove and parked in the car park by the farm shop which is delightful, and has toilets and café as would expect - they give you 10% off if you show them your parkrun barcode.

Fulham Palace

Gradient 4Get to Bishops's Park by using the 220 bus - it's between Fulham Palace and the football ground, it's three anti-clockwise laps of Bishop's Park. It is all on tarmac and flat and nice and fast, partly along the River Thames, although the path by the river is narrow, and has a few twists and turns. A fast course.

There's a short walk to the start - which is also narrow - and that's the only negative thing about this parkrun. Leaving your bags in the finish area is safe to do, and the results are processed in the café afterwards.

Gladstone Park

Gradient 4Two anti-clockwise laps in a hilly park - three points where there are loooong uphill gradients which take their toll! I did not enjoy this one at all ...it's mostly on tarmac though with a short stretch on grass.

There was no toilets or café on the day that I went. To get there, Dollis Hill on the Jubilee line is under a 10 minute walk away from the park.

Greenwich

Gradient 4Nowhere near Greenwich town centre or train station! it should really be called 'Avery Hill' parkrun. It's a three lap course, ran anti-clockwise, which starts and stays on grass around some football pitches, then onto a smooth flat path, and then onto grass again for the uphill section with undulation.

Certainly a stunning park, with café and toilets, and free parking on the weekend too if you drive there..

Grovelands

Gradient 4A straightforward three anti-clockwise laps around the park with a lake in the middle. It undulates a fair bit with a steep hill at the beginning of each lap. All on tarmac, but I wouldn't say it's a PB course. Went to Southgate tube on the Piccadilly Line to get there, and although there is a café in the park, I was told that it doesn't open until 10.30! Couldn't see any toilets either.

Gunnersbury

Gradient 4My spiritual parkrun home, I first ran here in October 2011 and have now done it over 100 times.

The course has changed over time, originally it was a one lap figure-of-eight that went in a clockwise direction around the edge of the park. This would change during the winter when it was too muddy and become an anti-clockwise course.

Nowadays it's grown to be busy and the layout of the park has changed, so it;s become two laps around in a clockwise direction, all on tarmac with some part undulating slightly.

There is a brand new café/toilets too which gives you 10% off with a parkrun bar code. Get here by using the E3 bus which stops right outside, or Acton Town Tube station is a five minute walk away.

Hackney Marshes

Gradient 4A simple 'there and back' course (later changed - now has a short dog leg section too) along a tarmac path, a small part of trail that takes you to more tarmac by the canal and back again - all in the shade of trees. It's super flat, and you could likely get a PB here ... as I did, when I came! I got my fastest time in over two and a half years when I came here, this is the second fastest course in London, and I love it - it's a fast course.

There is toilets and a café nearby which does excellent bacon sandwiches! Oh, and it's by a canal - you can't beat running alongside a canal in London.

Hampstead Heath

They have two courses 'A' and 'B' shown on their page , and their preference is to use 'A' most weeks.

It's starts on a downward muddy trail, then two clockwise laps - most of which is on tarmac which is nice - but then you have to run up the muddy slope again to the finish and that was hard! A challenging course, you won't PB here but definitely has great and varied scenery.

The nearest station is Hampstead on the Northern Line, but everyone goes to a café down by Hampstead Heath on the Overground after - there are NO facilities on the heath itself.

Hanworth

Gradient 4It's two clockwise laps around the park, some of it on grass, then tarmac, then a flat trail path, but the course is flat, there's no undulating or big elevations meaning it shouldn't bee to challenging which was great!

The start is a little walk from the finish, you can safely put things at the finishing funnel and then wander over to the start.

No toilets that I could see, or a café but there are shops nearby for this great new parkrun, Feltham is the closest station to get there.

Harrow

Gradient 4Three laps (anti-clockwise) of the park, including an additional smaller loop the first time round to make up the distance to 5Km. A lovely park - all on tarmac, but a couple of long gradients which you end up doing three times each - six in total.

Takes less than 10 minutes to walk from Harrow-on-the-Hill station, and starts and finishes by a pavilion where you can leave your coats and bags and has drinks/toilet facilities.

Harrow Lodge

Gradient 4Not to be confused with 'Harrow' (above!) Harrow Lodge Park is out in East London - nearest tube is Elm Park, it's a 5-10 minute walk. The course is a beautiful one lap affair (which is rare in London), on mostly grass (which gets muddy when wet) but small parts of it also on tarmac. It undulates a lot though, you won't get a a PB here.

There's a lake in the middle with ducks and swans which you come round at the end as the finish is in sight which is lovely. I was also told that a white building in the middle of the park was a café with toilets, but we we checked it out after the run, it was all closed with no sign of life, so no facilities here as far as I could see! I ran this in the winter, and would definitely love to come back and do it in the summer again.

Highbury Fields

Gradient 4Five (yes, five!) anti-clockwise laps, where the first half is slightly uphill, and then the other half of the lap is all downhill. There's then a small 'leg' at the end to complete the 5Km. Can be dispiriting if you're not the fastest runner as it's quite likely that you will get lapped!

Really near the tube station - easy to get to - no facilities in the park, but loads of places nearby to get fed, watered, and use the loo. It's all on tarmac, and you can get a fast time here.

Hilly Fields

Gradient 4"The clue is in the name!" joked the lively, and very fun run director as we lined up for the briefing here. I ran it on the hottest Saturday of the year, and I was feeling it by the end ...

It's three anti-clockwise laps around the delightful Hilly Fields, which is a mix of tarmac, trail and grass, it undulates throughout and at the each of each lap there's a nasty sharp uphill section which by the third time is so so draining and I almost walked it!

Superb café here as well with toilets, and some lovely friendly organisers here too. If you're OK with a non-flat course, I thoroughly recommend you visit here, it's great!

Hoblingwell

Gradient 4 The course is all on grass apart from a short section on the roadside pavement. It starts with a repeated short loop, before diverging into two longer loops through a section that can get muddy and then you finish by running the small loop that you did at the start again but this time in reverse, down to the finish line.

It can be tough in the winter when wet, and also some sections of it are on a camber which makes it tougher too! But when I went, there were less than 50 people there, and it's so nice to be at a smaller sized parkrun that isn't swamped with hundreds of people - feels quite charming. There's a car park too with a club house that has toilets and drinks for afterwards.

Kingston

Gradient 4It's a simple 'out and back' (with a loop when you turn) course which is run alongside the river Thames. You don't actually run along the towpath, but a path next to it slightly higher up. It's not totally flat, and it's all on a path/trail, and some bits that would get muddy in winter, so hence it's a 2 and not a 1.

It's right by a sports centre though with café and toilets and seating area, and on the day I went they were handing out free bananas to people at the end!

Gradient 4Lloyd Park

Lloyd Park tramlink stop is literally 60 seconds walk from the park entrance and the start position, the trams pass by you to your right at the start of the run. The run is two anti-clockwise laps of an extremely hilly and rugged landscape in a park that is also used for cross country running. You have to climb through a rise of 44 metres all on muddy grass, it's tough!

It used to be London's hardest parkrun, but then Sunny Hill came along which we think it harder.

The organisers are also brilliant here setting up early with everything in order, and free drinks and sometimes cakes to snack on too, and if that isn't enough, there's a really good café immediately next to the start/finish with toilets too.

Gradient 4Mile End

As part of this parkrun in east London is by the canal you'd be forgiven for thinking that it would totally flat, but it's not. It's a two loop 'out and back' run which takes in two gradients, and then one small but steep hill (the green bridge) that goes over a road - and you run that four times in total! Only a short part of the course is flat, near to the canal, and because of that, Mile End get a '3' rating. It is all on tarmac though, no problems here in the winter.

The organisers were superb, and whilst there's no facilities (I couldn't find any toilets!) a Coffee Cart van comes along especially to cater for the runners and do good trade. Nearest station is Mile End, a couple of minutes walk to the top end of the park, then a couple more minutes to walk down to the start/finish area.

Northala

Gradient 4It's one large lap of a nice flat park, with one odd part where you have to 'dodge round' a piece of mental fencing that is in the way on the footpath.

Northolt tube is about a ten minute walk away from the entrance to the park. There is a great little café with toilets to go to afterwards, and a couple of nearby hilly mound that you can also climb for a view and a good warm-down exercise afterwards.

Oak Hill Park

Gradient 4In North London lies a parkrun with the world 'Hill' but is actually not that hilly, and is three anti-clockwise loops with a slight gradient up towards the end of each loop.

I came by car, ample parking space and people gather at the end point, before walking down to the start. One tricky part of the course is where you 'S' bend across a narrow bridge, apart from that, it's all on tarmac and is a straightforward lovely run. There is a building with toilets and café.

Old Deer Park

Oh how I loved this one! It's a three-lap clockwise course around the grass of Old Deer Park in Richmond, with a tiny part of the course on tarmac path - mostly flat - and doesn't get too muddy in the winter either. It's on the flight path to Heathrow so there are planes overhead as you do your laps!

What's great about it is that it's one of the few London parkruns to still get less than 100 people, so it's still got that small friendly vibe about it, which other parkruns used to have but have lost as they've grown too large.

Lots of friendly people here, and they even have a 'Tea & Coffee Kitty' meaning that you might get a cup of tea free one week! Or you can contribute to that fund as well. One that I will definitely go back to in the summer once I've completed all the London parkruns.

Orpington

The park is quite a way from Orpington station, you have to get an R9 bus if you're using public transport. Once there, the start/finish is by the local football club building, and inside there are toilets and a café which sells snacks and drinks and is open before the run.

The course is steeper than it looks - mostly on grass, clockwise around the park, and the first two laps you run around the rugby pitch, which you don't need to do on the third lap - you just head straight for the finish.

On the course, there are three odd moment where a small piece of tarmac has some concrete and wooden bollards are right in the middle of the path! They stick up huge bright yellow 'Mind the Bollard' signs though, so that you don't run into them!

Osterley Park

Three anti-clockwise laps ran along woodland paths, with a few tree stumps to avoid in places which makes the course bumpy and tricky, and definitely not great in the winter when it's muddy.

There is parking and is easier to drive here, if you go to Osterley tube it is about a 10-15 minute walk away from the station. There is a great café area in the grounds to gather afterwards.

Peckham Rye

Gradient 4The varied Peckham parkrun throws up a delightful course - with twists and turns through different parts of the park to give you a varied scenery as you run. It's all on tarmac, but there is one park that undulates slightly, and you do three lap in an anti-clockwise fashion, for what is now one of my London favourites.

I don't think there's a toilet or cafe in the park, but it's right by several roads with local shops and places to go, so you're not short on facilities.

Pymmes

Gradient 4Another absolute London favourite parkrun of mine, because it usually has a smaller attendance of fewer than 100 people which makes it so nice and pleasant to run at.

It's three anti-clockwise laps in a small park almost totally flat and all run on tarmac, so you can get a good time here! There's on street parking, and the nearest public transport is Silver Street Overground station which has trains every 15 minutes. There used to be toilets here, but they're now closed, and the closest café is a short walk back by the station.

Raphael

Pronounced 'Ray-Fell' this is an undulating course that is all on tarmac but not flat - it undulates in places. It's two clockwise loops, then half a loop back to the start/finish. At one point the volunteers put out guiders to stop you running into people coming the other way!

There appear to be two cafés in the park, both with toilets. There is parking or the nearest station is Romford from where you can walk to it in under ten minutes..

Richmond

Gradient 4One of the earliest parkruns to be established, set in stunning Richmond with the chance of seeing some deer as you run round. It's a one-lap anti-clockwise course that is all on trail, with some grassy bits, no tarmac at all. It's mainly on a downward slope for the first half on the way out, before then curving round for a mainly uphill slope towards the finish, with a small steep section just before the end.

There are toilets in the park, but post run everyone meets in a café just outside of the park. It was strange that almost no one was there at 08:45, but by 08:55 everyone had showed up . I heard one of the event organisers mention that they're not always the promptest of parkruns!

Riddlesdown

Gradient 4It's one and a half laps around a top of a hill - mostly on grass trail which can get muddy, and terribly muddy in a wet winter. There is no tarmac at all here, but it's generally flattish.

To get to the parkrun though, you have to come up a steep hill, which is hard if you're on foot or bike! If you drive, park in the school opposite. The volunteers meet right by the entrance to the park, with the start then being a 5 minute walk away. There's no facilities here, but just down the road there are various shops and cafés which people go to afterwards..

Roundshaw Downs

Gradient 4Based on the site of old Croydon Airport, it's two anti-clockwise laps around hard trails, some grass and a shaded section in woods. None of this is on tarmac, and it therefore obviously bumpy in places, and definitely one that would be more tricky after wet weather. A really enjoyable and varied course with great views of London from the top of the hill as well.

It was the 19th parkrun in the whole country to be setup, and when I went there were still using one of the original timers - a large box that's the size of your hand! There are no facilities here, but the friendly organisers go to the nearby LA Fitness or McDonalds to get a coffee and process the results afterwards.

Southwark

Gradient 4It's three anti-clockwise loops around the edge of the park, completely of flat paved paths but with a few bends, it's a nice fast circuit and a London favourite of mine.

The nearest station to get there is Surrey Quays on the Overground, or park in the big Tesco if you're driving. There are no facilities in the park, but everyone goes to the Surrey Dock pub afterwards for breakfast and to process the results.

South Norwood

Gradient 4The parkrun is two clockwise laps of the park on rugged terrain with some paths, that would definetely be harder during the winter in wet weather.

The start/finish is by a café (so must have toilets?) and you can get there by catching a Tram which is always fun!

Sunny Hill

Gradient 4A course with 'Hill' in the name was never going to be flat, and indeed is very hilly and hard, and beats Lloyd Park to be London's hardest parkrun!

It's a figure-of-eight course ran anti-clockwise all on tarmac, and you do it twice. It has several undulating parts including two particularly steep hilly bits which really take it out of it. But great views when you get to the top! At the finish, it's a small walk to the superb café (with toilets) which the park has.

Tooting Common

Gradient 4Wandsworth's first parkrun - at last! It's a simple three anti-clockwise loops in a triangle shape with a small 'leg' which you do at the start and finish. It's almost all on tarmac apart from a short section on hard trail, and one odd part where you have to jump over a kerb and avoid a bollard by the roadside.

The paths though are narrow, meaning a very squashed start, and if you're trying for a PB here you'll have to fight your way to be at the front. There is an excellent café though and toilets too, good facilities.

Valentines Park

Jump on the tube to Mile end, or the train to Ilford and Valentines Park is between both of them. It's two anti-clockwise laps of the park with a short spur at the start and the end to take you from/to the start finish in the middle of the park.

There's one part across a tiny wooden bridge which gets icy in the winter, and one part which reminded me of Northala - where you have to run around a gate the blocks the path. But it's all on tarmac, and hardly undulates - in other words, it's a fast flat course. It may just be the only parkrun though where I've had to avoid Geese waddling about from the nearby pond!

There's an excellent café at the end, and a proper toilet block too - so good facilities.

Victoria Dock

Gradient 4London's fastest parkrun! It's my very favourite because it's so flat, and I'd suggest that it is in fact the fastest course in the whole of the country. Come here if you're trying to get a new personal best fastest time.

You run along the tarmac of the north side of Victoria Docks, all the way past the ExCeL centre, turn around and come back again to go and run along the south side of the dock, turn around and then back to the finish. You also run under the Cable-Car too, which is also a fun way to arrive here.

There are toilets, and they provide free tea and coffee at the end which is great!

Walthamstow

Gradient 4Walthamstow parkrun is three anti-clockwise laps around a football playing field (parts of a sports centre) all on grass, rugged and sloped in places.

The volunteers and organisers are great though, and there are good facilities here with toilets and even changing rooms in the adjacent sports centre. I couldn't find a café, but there were drinks vending machines.

Wanstead Flats

Gradient 4Wanstead Flats is two laps of the flats, half on playing fields and half in woods. Although it's flat it's not a tarmac course meaning it's a rought bumpy coures.

I went on a week when it had been raining and found it horrendously muddy, so the best time to go is arguably in the spring or autumn, as at the height of summer it is too overgrown, and in winter it's too wet. Super friendly though, with home made cakes for free when we visited! There are toilets, but no café.

Wimbledon Common

Gradient 4Two anti-clockwise laps in the woods and shadows of the trees. It's all woodland trails, with several tree stumps to avoid in places! There's quite a walk from the meeting point to the start, and the finish is back near where people congregate for the briefing.

I couldn't find any toilets, and don't know where people went for their tea/coffee afterwards!

Wormwood Scrubs

Gradient 4It's two laps of grassy paths that can get very muddy and cross-country like in the winter - so probably easier in the summer. Usually gets less than 50 people, so it's lovely and small, but friendly event. There are no facilities here though.

 

 

Just for fun, here's a "Parkrun Tube Map" that I created, showing you the nearest station to each London parkrun.

 

London+ Parkruns

These are the twelve parkruns that are outside the Greater London boundary, but inside the M25 and thus called London+

Aldenham
December 2019

The final parkrun that I had to come and do to tick of fall the parkruns within the M25, otherwise knows as 'London+'. I got the train to Elstree & Borehamwood and cycled the ten minutes to the Country Park, which has plenty of facilities and attractions - including pony rides!

The course is two clockwise laps (but actually different each time) around a lake and through some woods. So whilst it's not undulating, only the first part near the start is on tarmac, and then the rest is on woodland trail which was full of mud and puddles when I ran! Would very much like to come to this one on a dry summer day.

A great setup, and a friendly vibe amongst the team, and a welcome coffee hut right by the start/finish for a cuppa afterwards.

Banstead Woods

I visited in November in a week when it had been raining and anticipated it to be much harder than I thought it was.

In the end, the trail course was covered mostly in autumnal leaves rather than mud, and it wasn't a problem at all getting round, and I really enjoyed it.

It's two lap course (anti-clockwise) that starts by gong uphill! There's then a nice long down hill part, but then a sharp uphill section, followed by the long uphill section again, and some people chose to walk it.

One of the best run directors I'd ever witnessed was here, giving clear, concise and friendly instructions beforehand which was really good. It was also nice to see a sign politely asking runners with dog to start to one side - rather than being in the 'huddle' group at the start which can sometimes cause problems. You can get the train to Chipstead to come here, but most likely you would drive. No facilities sadly (which would make it perfect) instead everyone meets afterwards at the pub down the road.

Brooklands

November 2019
On the site of the the old racing track, I got the train to Weybridge to get here, but there is a car park as well as a huge Tesco right next door with a car park too. The run starts on the extremely flat piece of tarmac, right in the middle of what was once an airfield, then going into the woods on trail which surprisingly wasn't too muddy, and comes back round for another section on tarmac again - and you do this twice. A nice varied, interesting course, and I got a decent time too considering the grey rainy day I went on and the wooded part.

There are toilets, and multiple cafés in the Tesco which is where everyone goes to meet up afterwards.

Cassiobury

November 2019
With rainy weather this November I chose this one knowing it was going to be a flat course all on tarmac, and no muddy grass! So it was a joy to run round in road shoes. The course is two and a half anti-clockwise laps of the park with the start in the different place from the finish, people walk the 2 minutes down to the eastern end of the park to start the run. There's an area by the finish where you can leave your bags/coats then walk down to the start.

I got here by getting the train to Watford Junction and walking from there, but Watford tube on the Metropolitan line is nearer to the finish so there's that option to.

It was really well organised with lots of volunteers, signs stuck up, and also funnels for barcodes at the end - something I've only ever before at Bushy - because 400 people were there the week I went, and it quite often gets over 500 runners - a busy event!

There is then 'café ChaCha' right there in the park where people gather afterwards and they process the results.

Dartford

Gradient 4Less than a 10 minute walk from the railway station, Dartford park is two anti-clockwise laps of the delightful Central Park. It's mostly all on tarmac, but with short sections on grassy trail. On the second lap, you do an extra 'leg' down to the Marshal known as Mick Jagger - you'll have to go here to see why.

The start/finish is next to the Dartford Harriers running track and building where there are toilets and a café which is open before the run, so yo can get a cup of tea before if you like!

Dartford Heath
September 2019

Gradient 4Crayford is the nearest railway station to get here, but we drove and managed to get one of the last spaces in the small car park on the edge of the heath. It's a small setup with no facilities, so make sure you go to the toilet before you get here.

The course is a little bit on tarmac, but then mostly hard dry rugged trail paths, with flat section and then undulating sections with some bumpy parts too - an interesting, varied terrain course..

Gunpowder
November 2019

Gradient 4Just outside the edge of the London boundary but within the M25, Gunpowder parkrun is two clockwise laps around the park on a hard concrete surface, and undulates slightly. A great course with fast bits and a few turns and enough changing scenery to keep it interesting. I went on a blustery and rainy wet day though which slowed me down a little, and beware the narrow start though it can get crowded.

If you're getting there by public transport come out of the station and cross the road to the bus stop to your left, and catch the 121 bus instead to 'Gunner Drive' and walk into the park from there. Oh, and there are toilets, but no café, I'm not sure where people met afterwards.

Hazelwood

Gradient 4Hazelwood - in Sunbury - is based at the grounds of the London Irish Rugby Club, meaning it's brilliant in terms of facilities - a club house with bar, and does a breakfast even before the run if you want! And modern, clean toilets all good. It's 15 minute walk from Sunbury railway station too.

The course itself is two anti-clockwise laps (plus a smaller lap at the beginning) around the rugby pitches, all on grass. Gradient wise it is almost totally flat, but on the week that I went in the winter it had been raining all week and it was not try. The mud churned up, and by 1Km in my socks were already completely sodden.

So this is one to avoid when the weather has been wet, as it makes it hard going particularly when it's just a run around a sports field - a little reminiscent of Walthamstow.

Nonsuch

Gradient 4This parkrun is two laps of a Nonsuch park, a rugged course mostly on a dirt trail - some sections of which obviously get really muddy and slow you down after it's been raining, and then several section on grass too. It's basically a cross-country course and you shouldn't expect to get a fast time here.

It's frequented by several hundred people - quite busy, and has a great café to meet in afterwards with toilets and all the usual facilities.

Rickmansworth
August 2019

Gradient 4A fifteen minute walk from the tube place, it takes place in a park by the canal. It's two clockwise laps and can get busy with over 400 people running the week I went, which meant a congested start but thinned out quickly by the 1Km mark.

The whole course is on flat tarmac, twist in places, and it also not in the open with trees hugging the path and overhanging almost the whole way round. The start/finish is right by the toilets and a cracking café too which is open by the time you've finished the run.

Roding Valley
January 2019

Gradient 4I visited in the winter when it was extremely cold and many parkruns were called off due to bad weather, but the volunteers at Roding Valley said that they have a backup course and Roding Valley is 'The parkrun then never gets cancelled - good to know!

The course is totally flat - no hills whatsoever, so come here for a good time. It's half on tarmac paths and half on grass, and is essentially a two lap course that goes clockwise around the park. I couldn't see any toilets though, and there's no café nearby - I walked back to Loughton Tube station which is the nearest, to grab a drink on my way home.

South Oxhey

December 2019
It's a 10 minutes walk from Carpenders Park station on the Overground to get there, and when you do you find an utterly charming small parkrun which distinctly has that lovely 'local' community feel to it - something that goes missing once a parkrun grows too big, so it's a great thing to discover smaller events like this. After one of the politest run directors every does his speech, you set off on three laps around the park and it's 98% on grass - which in the winter is slippy and muddy - and there is a gradient too halfway round which takes its toll, and being a three lap course you have to do it three times!

There is a short tarmac section as you complete the end of each lap and as you approach the finish, but I stayed on the grass as I was wearing trail shes with grips!

There's no toilets, but brilliantly they have a "Pop up" tea/coffee stand with a huge urn of boiling water and people bring biscuits and cake - free refreshments at the end of a friendly parkrun is always a welcome thing!

London++ Parkruns

These are six parkruns which are just outside the M25, but some people still consider being part of London, and are known as London++

Black Park

Gradient 4A long course ran along a woodland path surrounded by tall trees. There is no convenient public transport though, but there is a car park which you have to pay for. It gets really busy with hundreds of people and it didn't start to think out until about the 2Km mark.

There is a seating area as the finish, but there is no good place to put your bags/coats unless you leave them in your car, as the start and finish points are at different places. There are toilets and a café here.

Reigate Priory

Gradient 4A rugged course that starts flat but soon goes up a hill and intto the woods, it undulates and gets muddy and then goes down an awkward sloping hill on a camber the other side ... oh, and you do it all twice, anti-clockwise. On the day I went it was raining and I slipped over and cut my let open, oops!

There is a paid-for car park in the nearby Morrison's, and also a great café and toilet in the park itself.

Lullingstone

Gradient 4You can get there by train to Eynsford station, but there is also a car park witha small charge. It's within the ground of a Country Park which mean good toilets and a posh café, where they also give you 10% if you show a parkrun barcode.

The course is 90% on grass, a little on trail no tarmac and is extremely undulating, but also brilliant! It's two clockwise laps and you run up into the woods, and come out for a stunning view ... down the hill, loop around up the hill again to pass the start, and you go round again, and I loved it

The organisers here acknowledge that no one comes here for a fast time, they do it because it's a challenge, and in a superb location.

Other UK Parkruns

Brockenhurst

Gradient 4Taking place within Wilverley Plain inside the New Forest, this is an incredible trail course on soft and hard trail paths through trees, where logging takes place - the only time I've been to a parkrun where there are signs saying "Do not climb on the logs!".

It was a great course which I enjoyed very much, the only awkward part was finding it so allow yourself some extra time when driving here, as the directions they give aren't that accurate - but I arrived with about five minutes to spare - just in time. There's no café or toilets here though.

Bognor Regis

Gradient 4Set in the delightful Hotham Park, this is a four-lapper, clockwise except that the first lap is a shorter than the three that follow. It's all flat, and all on tarmac with a course that twists and turns quite a lot. I do like a varied course in a park with changing scenery though and so whizzed round with a fast time.

There a stunning café right in the park with toilets too, open before 9am as well which is nice. And once you've done your run it's just a short walk to the seafront for a walk along the beach!

They do have a bizzare setup at the end though - they give you your token, and then scan it whilst still inside the funnel, which I find odd because I don't run with my barcode on me, and it leads to congestion in the funnel. I never understand parkruns that do this.

Clair

Gradient 4It should really be called 'Haywards Heath' parkrun, as that's where it is, but it's located in Clair Park hence its name, it's a three minute walk from the station to get there.

The course is 100% on tarmac, although the the paths thought are very narrow in some places and it's a bit congested at the start. You run four and a half laps around the park, and it's not flat - there's a severe uphill part! But then follows a nice long downhill section to even it out.

The volunteers have out free chocolates at the end in the sports hut, where there are toilets, but no café.

Conwy

My first Welsh parkrun, it's really to the east of the river by Llandudno Junction - which is where you go to if you're getting there by train, and it's down by the water by the RSPB reserve. It is fast, and flat, on solid trail paths except for one fun part where you have to run over the railways on a sloped pedestrian footbridge!

You do it on the way back as well, oh and you get a glorious view of Conwy castle too before the halfway mark.There are no facilities, but there's a retail park and supermarket nearby-ish which you can use.

Cranleigh

Gradient 4A two lap anti-clockwise run on grassy fields, with a steep hill section a small way in. I went in the winter when it was very wet and muddy and completely inappropriate to be running on - I've known other parkruns to be cancelled when the course is as bad as it was when I run it, so not recommended after wet weather.

There's a car park, but no facilities - if you want toilets or a tea/coffee it's a 5-10 minute walk back to Cranleigh High Street from where the parkrun is.

Cyclopark

Gradient 4I got the train to Meopham and cycled (what else!) on my bike to get there, although really this is Gravesend parkrun, and that is the nearest railway station.

It's an out-and-back (twice) course on tarmac, that was once the main road of the A2, and you can still see lay bays and cats eyes that used to be part of the road! It's now part of a dedicated cycle network, and 'Cyclopark' itself in an event centre based around BMX cycling.

The volunteers inject a lot of energy and fun into this parkrun, and although it's all on tarmac this is long incline which although you run down twice, you also have to run up twice, and the second time is on the 4-5Km and it's a slog. There is a café on site with toilets, and a small charge for the car park if you do drive.

Eastbourne

Gradient 4The first thing to note about Eastbourne parkrun - is that it's not really in not actually in Eastbourne! The nearest station is one up the line - Hampden Park, and it's then a 20 minute walk from there.

The park is great though, and I came here because I was told it was very flat and very fast - which it is. Almost all on tarmac (small sections are on grass, they also have a winter course that IS all on tarmac.

There's no facilities here though - no café or toilets, I used the toilet on the train, and headed into town to get a post-run coffee.

Edinburgh

A 'run out, turn around and run back' course all along the coastline - almost totally flat on tarmac, but it's cold in the winter when the wind whips in! Note that as a Scottish parkrun it also starts at 09.30, and not at 09.00. Don't do what I did and turn up at 08.30, and be an hour early ...

But the setup is weird as it's actually over organised with music blasting from a P.A. which is odd, and tents that make it feel like you're at a fairground and not a parkrun, and thus lacks the charm of a 'local park' parkrun, and feels more like a paid-for run or marathon event, rather then the free parkrun which we all know and love.

Exeter Riverside

"It's nice and flat!" someone told me just before we set off, and they were right! Run down next to the retail park and river to the south side of Exeter City, this splendid run starts on (an admittedly narrow, be at the front at the start if you don't want to get caught up in a crush for the first part) tarmac for 1Km, then shaded trail for half a Km, a clockwise 2Km loop round the grassy university playing fields, then back down the trail and hit the tarmac again for the final 1Km to the finish back where you started, and apart from a slight hump over a bridge, it's all flat, and a great great course.

Oddly, the results/barcodes/scanning are processed a short walk away down the road at the nearby climbing club, where there is also an excellent café and toilets. Definitely one I want to come back to - i did it on a hot day, and would have done faster had it of been milder!

Exmouth

"We're the flattest parkrun in the country!" said one of the volunteers to be, which is a bold claim as Selby is officially the flattest yes when I ran it very quickly on a lovely sunny - but not hot - September Saturday with no wind, you head west and after 100m you do a hairpin bend to the right and run down the flat promenade, towards Orcombe Point, where you turn around, come back again, but you've still only done 4Km when you get back to the start, so you carry on for 500m heading west, then do another 180 turn and come back to the finish.

Being a busy seafront town there's loads of cafés and toilets, it's worth noting though that (a bit like Exeter, above!) you have to walk a little way - across the road to a sports centre called 'Ocean' to get your bar-code scanned.

Hastings

Gradient 4Hastings is an on-the-coast out and back promenade run along the sea front with two sections where there are slopes. I bet it would be chilly in the winter but I went on a mild day and it was lovely. The 180-degress turn was also unusually in an anti-clockwise direction and not clockwise as you usually encounter on most runs.

I got the train to West St. Leonards to get there, and was organised by some of the nicest volunteers I have ever met - something that is hard to get right, but they have done so here. There is a café and toilets nearby, making this a superb parkrun to go to.

Hove Promenade

Gradient 4There are four parkruns in Brighton, this is one right on the seafront - and as is in the name, is on the promenade and it all flat. The course is two laps where you head west first, turnaround and run back past the star, head east, then make another U-turn back to the start again for half way and then repeat for the whole 5Km.

There's a café here too, as well a toilets and the volunteers meet at and use one of the beach huts which is a fun touch.

Ifield Mill Pond

Tucked away along all tarmac paths in a park with a pond off the back suburban streets in Ifield lies this delightful parkrun. I went on a cold cold day in December just before Christmas where the marshals were having to sweep away puddles of water that had accumulated on the paths!

An odd course to describe,as from the start you do an out and back to the start then head for the out again but this time go round and large loop around the pond, to the out and back which you repeat again, and after the second time around the point you do the out and back for the third time to come back to the finish.

Beware though there's no facilities here in terms of toilets or café, but there are shops about a 10 minute walk away, which are also en route back to the station if you've come here by train.

Ipswich

Gradient 4One of only three letter "I" parkruns in the country (along with Inverness, and Ifield Mill Pond), so people often come here if they're trying to complete the Alphabet challenge. The park it takes place in has a wonderful cricket pavilion with full facilities and even sells tea and coffee before the run starts which is great.

The first two minute you "loop round" and repeat around the cricket pitch and then you're off around the lovely park, with 90% of the course being on grassy or woody trail, only 10% of it on tarmac. I took my trail shoes which worked wonderfully well, and it undulates a little, until the 4Km mark where there's a small hill to get you back up to the top by the finish!

It can get really muddy in the winter months though, and then it does they go to a different park altogether - so do check their website for news before going there. Got a really friendly welcome from Graham the event director, and had a great time (and a fast run time too!)

Jersey Farm

Gradient 4Located in St. Albans, and popularised by those wishing to tick off the letter 'J' in the alphabet, I ran the winter course which is a combination of grass and bridleways, which definitely undulates in several places, but didn't feel too challenging to do.

It's two clockwise laps with a small uphill spur at the start, and the approach to the finish was somehow uphill as well! Slightly tricky to get to though with no car park, so use a train, bus, or bike. There's no facilities the town centre with all the usual shops is not too far away which is where the volunteers gather to do the results.

Kings Lynn

Gradient 4The course is three anti-clockwise laps of The Walks park in King's Lynn, with a couple of tight turns and momentary gradients but mostly flat. There's a café with toilets in the park, and there's lots of local streets for nearby parking.

 

Lancing Beach Green

Gradient 4A ten minute walk from the train station to the start point, this parkrun is another south coast flat tarmac course. It starts with a small out-and-back section on a grassy area first before going up a short slope to the flat promenade, and then heads east for the out-and-back, the turn being near the 3Km mark.

With a lovely 'small parkrun' charm, you could easily PB here on a wind less day. There are toilets here, a nearby nearby café which is a little posh and a tad expensive!

Lee-on-the-Solent

Gradient 4A fast out-and-back (and run past the start for an out-and-back in the other direction too!) this is a promenade parkrun meaning it's fast and flat and all on tarmac, and I got a good fast time here. It's more popular that Southsea though which is similar to this (and is where I normally go when down this way) with several hundred people, so jostle towards the front if you're after a decent time.

It's right on the seafront so can of course be windy if the weather is bad. Plenty of seafront cafés though nearby for a coffee afterwards, oh and I had to pay for the car park here when we came by car.

Littlehampton Prom

I'd run Worthing the week before - a flat out and back run on the prom - and Littlehampton looked to be the same! And it is totally flat except it's two laps 'out and back' which which means run along the same section four times with two 180 turns at the cone. The sea is on your right as you start (and head east), then on the fourth time along the sea it's on your left as you head west. I made sure the weather was going to be calm and not windy before I came down, and got a really fast time!

There are toilets right by which is great, and there's an amusement park ... which isn't open at ten o'clock in the morning, but cafés etc.. were starting to open up, and I got invited to come along to the place where they process the results, but I had to smart foot it back to the station to get my train home (It's a 15 minute walk from the station to the parkrun start point).

All in all, another fantastic totally-flat promenade run which I really like.

Longrun Meadow

Taunton's parkrun is ten minute walk from the town centre and take you to an open an area and a 'barn' type structure where everyone gathers before and after the race. A visitors board invites people to write on if you are a tourist and where you have come from that day, and also have a large red Fire Bell which acts as a PB bell if you've beaten your time!

A short walk to the start from the finish takes you on two laps with a little on tarmac, but the majority on gravel trail and it is flat, but with some slight undulations to make this a '2' and not a '1' course - I was happy with my fast time that I go there though. There's a coffee cart afterwards, but there's also a stunning café two minutes walk away, and overall it's a well frequented, and good organised run!.

Maidenhead

Gradient 4A popular parkrun due to the fact that others in the area nearby often get cancelled due to flooding - so often attracts hundreds of people. This leads to a congested start with bizarrely 'splits' (you can go one of two aways) to avoid a hump of land. You're then onto the hard trail paths to do two clockwise laps before you then come back around to finish on the grass. The finish oddly is not in the same place as where everyone gathers for the start and this threw me - it makes much more sense to do this, and it would be possible here at Maidenhead but they don't.

Because it's so congested, I was bunch up for the whole first 2Km, and wasn't able to pick up speed until after that so I got a slow time,

There's Toby Pub/Carvery right near it though for sustenance afterwards, and it's a 15 minute walk from the railway station if you're coming here by train.

Mole Valley

Gradient 4Part of the Denbies Wine Estate this very tough and hilly parkrun can be walked to from either Boxhill & Westhumble station or Dorking, a lot of people choose to drive though.

Course wise? Oh boy ... the first 1km is a clockwise loop around a grassy field, back through the start and then you turn left .. up a looooong hill. Oh it's long, and I saw several people walking at this point. It flattens out a bit, but then goes up hill even more, and basically keeps going uphill until around the 3Km mark when you turn left off the uneven path by a pine tree ... and then it's all either flat or downhill, and my two fastest splits were my last two.

You then run through part of the vineyard itself and back round to the same place as the start for the finish, and you really felt like you've run 5Km! Normally, I'm not a fan of steep hilly runs, but because I was prepared for it and knew what was coming it seemed easier, and I loved the whole thing. It would definitely be tougher after rainy/winter weather, but yes .. it's a '5' on the terrain scale!

There's an excellent café/toilet setup afterwards as well which you would expect, with an outside seating area too.

Milton Keynes

This parkrun is now on its third course iteration. It's a one-clockwise lap which undulates a little, takes you over a footbridge over a road, past some lakes, and would be a '2' were it not for a 'ZigZag' section that is quite steep, and thus it becomes a '3'.

It gets very busy with around 500 people, and it quite a distance from the train station if you come by public transport.

Toilets: Were closed when we tried to use them!
café: No

Northampton

Gradient 4Taking place around the edge of 'The Racecourse' in Northampton, it's two anti-clockwise laps around the edge of the park (the second is slight shorter as you turn sooner) and what's great about it is that it's very flat and all on tarmac paths meaning a decent time can be got here.

It gets busy though with over 500 people, but the park is big and a wide start allows people to fan out, but the first 1Km can still be congested though until it settles down. There are toilets here, but I didn't see a café so don't know where people go afterwards - it's over a mile from the railway station though if coming by train, so get a bus or taxi instead if you don't want to walk.

Pegwell Bay

Gradient 4Pegwell is a little infamous, because the course is not exactly 5Km! We think it's about 150 metres short, couple with the fact that it's super flat course (hard dirt trail) you can whizz round for a PB, basically ... come here if you want to get your fastest ever time.

It's two ant-clockwise laps around Pegwell Bay County Park, with one of the friendliest and best volunteer setups I've ever seen (free teas, coffee, cake etc ... ) and there are toilets too. I had to get get a taxi from the railway station though, as it's not that good to get to by public transport - most people drive. But worth it, for that magical PB!

Penrith

Gradient 4Penrith parkrun takes place around the edge of playing fields of the Frenchfield Sports centre is two anti-clockwise loops that also includes a couple of U-turns just to make the course a little more interesting. The compact gravel paths are narrow but with plenty of overspill space on the grass on the side, and then some proper tarmac later on.

It's a flat course, so an easy run and good place to get a decent time. Lots of people come and volunteer here and provide cakes and tea and drinks for a really nice community atmosphere, there are toilets too.

Pontefract

Gradient 4Located at Pontefract Park and Racecourse, the start is right by a lake which you immediately do a small anti-clockwise lap of, and then it's round the perimeter and big one lapper, which gradual undulations that brings you back round past the start/finish where you do the small lap of the lake again, this time in a clockwise fashion to the finish - and it all on either gravel trail or tarmac.

There are no facilities at the run, so afterwards everyone goes to meet at the Pontefract Squash & Leisure club just around the corner for tea, coffee and great bacon butties. Pontefract Tanshelf station is the nearest if you're going by train.

Pontypridd

Gradient 4Located in a delightful park with café and toilets and just a short walk from the railway station, Pontypridd parkrun has an initial short lap, followed by three large loops - all anticlockwise - of the park, all on tarmac with only one noticeable rising part which isn't flat which then comes down again and you can build you speed again, but apart from that is all flat.

The start is narrow and with hundreds of people you can find yourself bunched in at the start, I ran on the grass to the side of the path so as to be able to run freely for the first couple of minutes.

Pontypool

Gradient 4Located in Pontypool park right next to the Active Living Centre, and course loops around the rugby/football pitch. You start out at the eastern end of the park, and then do an interesting couple of varied clockwise loops - at one point running along the standing terraces of the rugby pitch!

Even though it's all on tarmac, it is NOT flat with a few steep gradients to get you up the hills which take their toll over the laps. You finish amongst the seated/covered stands of the Rugby pitch, and then you can immediately walk into the café that's right there for your well earned tea/coffee and piece of cake! It was great to come to Ponty, and tick this one off for the Full Ponty challenge!

Pont-y-Bala

Gradient 4In north Wales by Bala lake - I came here after staying over in Wrexham the night before and then driving down in the morning. The week I went the weather was a little cold and snowy, and there was a small turnout of just 22 people, meaning I managed my highest ever finishing position of 7th!

The course is flat and doesn't undulate but is on a bumpy gravel tarmac path, so you couldn't call it completely flat. You go out and back twice along the water to the River Dee and then back to where you started by the car park. There is a PB bell to ring, the signs are in Welsh, and everyone goes to a superb café around the corner to in a sports centre afterwards. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Poole

Gradient 4One of the flattest parkrun in the country, it takes place in Poole Park with a superb course that is two anti-clockwise laps of a Boating Lake, then run back through where you started and do one quick perfectly circular lap of the cricket pitch to finish by the pavilion.

The paths are narrow though, and it can be a popular event with hundreds of people so congestion may be a problem. But at the end, there was free water, and other drinks and snacks in the pavilion where there are toilets too.

Poolsbrook County Park

Chesterfield doesn't have a parkrun, instead a 15 minutes drive (or allow 30 minute by bus) out of town towards Staveley is Poolsbrook County Park, an old mine turned into a great location.

A well organised team set you up for three-and-a-half anti clockwise laps around the lake, which some may find a little uninspiring as you can see where you're going at all times - I do love a course where there's a bend and you don't know what's coming up around the corner.

It's very flat though - but not on tarmac - with a small incline at the end for the finish. Toilets and a café too where everyone gathers, and a super friendly and lovely people to chat to there and at the end as well!

Portobello

Gradient 4Edinburgh's second parkrun is three laps of a great varied park all on a tarmac path, with a river running through it which you get to cross a few times. The start is on an immediate downward slope, but you have to run up it later! It gets a bit narrow under a bridge by the river, and an uphill slope to the finish.

There are no facilities though which is a bit of a pain and meant that I had to wee behind a tree in the bushes! But come here instead to avoid the crush of the hundreds of people who frequent the main Edinburgh parkrun, which has now grown too large.

Portsmouth Lakeside

Gradient 4It's by the '1000 Lakeside' business centre, this nice course starts out on flat tarmac with a 'dip' under a road (which you do twice) and then an out-and-back along the lakeside, which means that in wet weather (or if it's been raining) there are puddles everywhere which are difficult to avoid.

A nice summer course though! And there are several shops and toilets nearby.

Preston Park

Gradient 4There are five parkruns in Brighton and this is one of the easiest ones with it all being on tarmac,with only one short section that goes uphill slightly right at the end.

You run anti-clockwise to begin with, do a U-turn, and then two clockwise-laps back past the start and do the U-turn again two more times before finishing hear the start. There is a great café with toilets immediately next to where everyone meets to start and finish. Nicely organised too with a good vibe.

Queens, Belfast

Gradient 4I came along purely to get my 'Q' for the Alphabet, and it starts at 09:30, not 9am.

I had trouble here though, because the map on the website shows the start and finish points in the wrong location, then then pumped music out of a PA system at points on the course, so has no no 'local park' charm whatsoever, and as the course is within a sports centre, there's one strange point where an access road cut through, and I found myself having to give way to a car mid-run, which was a little ridiculous.

It's a twisty undulated course, mostly on tarmac.

Reading

Gradient 4 It's two clockwise laps with a short straight at the start that you then repeat at the end as well, around a grassy field plus also some tarmac too, right by the riverside. It's about a 30 minute walk to the railway station though and I elected to get a taxi there to make sure I arrived on time. I couldn't see any facilities so used the toilet back at the railway station.

A fast course in a nice setting, although I went on a rainy/drizzly day, I bet it's gorgeous in summer months.

Redcar

Gradient 4I arrived on a later train as the previous one was cancelled when coming here so ran down the start and joined in after people had already started. It didn't diminish my enjoyment of this great parkrun though, which is three anti-clockwise laps of Locke Park, all on tarmac, very very flat and enjoyable.

At the end of the third lap you turn in thought a narrow gate that leads you into the tennis courts and to the finish. It was well Marshalled throughout which it needs to be because the course takes several turns, but I really liked this because it makes for interesting scenery, and reminded me of Peckham parkrun in London.

Seaford Beach

Gradient 4It's right on the seafront where the wind can blow in! But it's brilliant for a fast time because it's a totally flat, all concrete promenade, with an "out and back" with just one small tricky part where you have to run around a martello tower.

On a windy day, it blows in from the sea meaning it hits you on the right as you run to the east on your way out, and then hits you on the left (harder, it felt) as you run west on the way back. There is a café here though. with toilets which is great and is just a 2 minute walk from Bishopstone Railway stations, handy if you're coming by train.

Seaton

It's on the beach! No .. it literally is, as due to an annual event every March known as 'The Grizzly' - a 20Km run through hills and a big section on the pebbled beach, the parkrun organisers deliberately included a short 100m section at the start, and two sections (when you turn at the 180!) that are on the pebbles of the beach! This is obviously very hard to run on, but 98% of the rest of the course is on the perfectly flat promenade ...

So it's an 'out and back' done twice, on the day I went it was sunny and calm, during the winter months in can of course have the wind blowing in right off the sea and the conditions somewhat less perfect! There is the appropriately named 'Pebbles' café right across from the start/finish (which is superb) to go after and where the results and processed. Another brilliantly classic south coast flat parkrun where you can get a good time. It would be even faster if it weren't for the pebbles!

Sheffield Castle

Three anti-clockwise laps with a long slog uphill on the last lap which is very hard to finish on! All on path/tarmac it undulates a fair amount, making this a reasonably challenging course.

It's a lovely cute little park (with no actual castle!) and afterwards there is a kitchen/lodge area which serves up tea and biscuits and a nice garden with benches to sit on and chat to people and recover!

Sittingbourne

I came here on a day to run the nearby 'The Least' parkrun instead only to find it cancelled because of a storm! So a quick hop back in the car, and drove back down to Sittingbourne where we made it just in time for the 9am start!

Two clockwise laps of this country park on hard-trail course, it was windswept and the back straight in the open but interesting enough to be enjoyably with a clear core team of friendly volunteers. I couldn't see any facilities, so got my post-run cuppa back at Sittingbourne station instead where I got the train home.

Stretford

Where I talk about gradient ratings (above) I mention the impossible '0' course that would have to be as flat as a running track.

Imagine my joy and surprise then when I turned up to this parkrun in Manchester to discover that it starts (and you do one lap of) a running track, before going two laps around an all-tarmac and flat route in a beautiful park, and then you end up doing one lap again on the running track for the finish! It's just brilliant, has instantly become a favourite and you will get a fast time here.

The running track is part of a sports club at the stadium so there is loads of facilities - toilets, café, etc .. and is just a few minutes walk from Stretford Tram stop to get here. Loved it!

Southsea

A 'run out, turn around and run back' course all along the seafront - almost totally flat on tarmac, but in the winter it is cold when the wind blows in off of the sea. Might this also be the closest parkrun to a possible '0' in terms of gradient, because it is extremely flat! If you can't get a fast time here on a non-windy day, then you can't get a fast time anywhere ...

Southwick County Park

Three and a bit laps around this delightful county park, it was a brilliant course in terms of it not being dull and you never knew what was going to be around the next bend - all on trail paths and a little bumpy in places. There are also wooden posts along the way to permanently mark how many K's you've run.

On the week I went, it started really late at ten past nine, after a long rambling introduction from the run director who then at the end without any fanfare just said "3 2 1 Go" in such a monotone that it caught me off guard and for a split second didn't realise that we'd started, but once up and running, really enjoyed the course.

It's about a half an hour walk from Trowbridge town centre/railway station with an irregular bus service, everyone who got there appeared to have arrived by car, and there didn't appear to be any facilities either - but many people had brought cakes and snacks.

Tonbridge

A lovely beautiful, scenic, flat course around a park and a lake. There are a couple of narrow bridges and one slight hump bridge that you run over near 1Km going out, and 4Km coming back. Had an odd 'spur' with a sharp 180 turn, but its nicely marshalled, well organised (in danger of perhaps being too organised?) although the start is on a narrow path, and a lot of people have to run on the grass until it spreads out, and then it's mostly on tarmac, some rough terrain paths which might get muddy in the winter.

The week I went they were selling cakes, and there was a mobile coffee cart too! Very friendly atmosphere, and a short walk from the station if you're going by train to get there.

Upton Court

Although close to the M25 this one doesn't count as London, nor London+, nor even London++ !! It's outside of London, but people come here to tick of the letter 'U' for the parkrun alphabet challenge. Located in Upton Court park, there are no railway stations really nearby, to get here I came by car. The start/finish is in the eastern side of the park by the rugby club pavilion, which is where the barcode scanning takes place, they sell tea and coffee and bacon rolls and toilets too!

It's a two lap anti-clockwise course about three-quarters on grass, and the rest on tarmac paths. The second lap is slightly shorter than the first, but the best bit is that terrain wise, there's almost no elevation at all! So it's a flat course. If you go in the winter/rain though, it does get slippy underfoot, but on a dry day this is a fast-grass course, and I really enjoyed it!

Westmill

I came here to complete my 'Compass' badge - many people do! It's a trek (30+ minute walk) from the station, so I came on my bike instead and rode it in 12 minutes. It's within Westmill Farm, where there are loads of activities - horse-riding, outdoors assault course/climbing, a fishing lake, a great place to come - and parkrun on a Saturday too!

They have a winter and a summer course, I ran the summer one - two anti-clockwise laps of all grass field terrain, and oh my is it undulating! And then .. there is quite a camber in places too, making it tough and deserved of its '4' ranking.

What I loved is that it's the sort of parkrun though that gets less than 100 people, making it a lovely nice size, the views of the park are good, and there is a perfect café/restaurant where you can sit and relax with views afterwards. Then it was a cycle back to the station (Ware) to catch the train back to London. Come here to get your 'West' compass point!

Whitstable

Right on the north Kent coast I came during the summer on a windless sunny day, and did their sunny course - an 'Out and back' that you do TWICE, the out on the flat concrete promenade, then up a short sharp slop, and back on a flat grass section, you then have to do the up slope again on a second lap!

As with all seaside courses, I bet it's cold and windy in the winter, and they also have a winter course (if the grass gets too wet) which they call 'The Lollipop' the course then becomes a single out and back, with a nasty uphill ramp right at the finish which people sometimes walk up rather than run!

But Kent's first parkrun is well organised and popular (so hustle if you want to start near the front for a fast time!) and as it's on the beach front there's a whole array of places to get a drink etc .. afterwards. It is about a 20 minute walk from the station though if you're coming by train. They also had a fancy electronic digital timer at the funnel, so as you approach the finish you can see what time you're going to get, liked that.

Worcester Pitchcroft

There are two parkruns in Worcester - the main one which has been running for several years, and then this one which started in the summer of 2017. It's simple laps around the racecourse (after which it takes its name) and the website describes it as being 'As flat as a pancake'. Well - it's not, almost! But no, because part of it is on grass, part on woodshaving over the racecourse, and then a tarmac part which is on a sideways slope, and the end is on grass too. So no magic '0' gradient (which is what I was hoping for), but a flat fast '1' instead, and a good place to come to get a PB - perfect because they have a PB 'Bell' which you can ring if you do indeed get a best time, which is brilliant!

Worthing

It's what you'd hope and expect of a sea-side/coastal parkrun on the promenade - it's all on tarmac and totally flat! Which is is why I came here to get a fast time. Get the train to either Worthing or East Worthing, and there's patch a grass where everyone gathers. On the day I went the RD was being being over-enthusiastic with the megaphone and thrusting it into people's faces to get them to talk - this is really disconcerting if you are shy, introverted or simply don't want to be forced to talk in public space, which is why I never put my hand up when asked if their are tourists here, etc ..

The course though is a fast out and back, right along the sea-front, meaning in winter months the wind will whip in from your left on the way out, and on your right from the sea on the way back. When you get to the 'big wheel' on the way back you're well over 4Km, so speed up for the finish which is just a bit further beyond the point where you started. They have a PB bell to ring here as well, which I always think is a nice fun thing to have,

There is a modern sports centre right next to the start/finish with a café and toilets, there was a queue at the toilets when I went to use them though, and only just made the start!

York

A very fast course! It's based around the inside path of York racecourse, and it's one and a bit clockwise loops around the inside of the track. It can get quite busy with 500-600 people as it's the only parkrun in the whole of York - a lovely city - people told me that they were looking to add another. There are however no facilities - people (men and women!) were taking a pee in the trees & bushes nearby before the run. A coffee cart/van does turn up though to serve drinks at the end.

Unfortunately, on the week I went (as it was April 1st) the organisers decided to run the face in reverse. There was no mention of this on any of their social media, and just when everyone was geared up and warmed up at the start (marked with a permanent line) at 9am, we were then walked 500m down the course - but not told why at first - and then told to turn around, as we were running it in reverse, and started very late at 9:15.

This caused much confusion, people were out of place, and got cold in this time, and lost my concentration for having a good run, and I hated it. At the end, the barcode scanners were then immediately after the finish funnel, and asked you to be scanned the moment you've collected your finish token. This is ridiculous - most people I know don't run with their codes (I don't - and went to go and get it so that it could be scanned). The queues for the scanners were then getting in the way of people finishing. I was not impressed with this poorly managed parkrun.

International Parkruns

Parkruns that I have done outside of the UK, when I've been on international travel!

Johnstown (Wexford Racecourse)

This was moved from it's regular spot by the castle to out by the racetrack and it's now essentially two clockwise laps of that with an extra section at the end to take you down to the finish by the clubhouse (with tea and toilets) with great friendly people, and a proper parkrun-feel to the whole place, really liked it. You can walk to it in under half an hour from Wexford town itself, and I caught a lift off of someone to drop me back!

Tramore

Down on the beach! I was staying in Waterford and got an early morning bus down (and back!), and it's right by the sea with two circular laps of an elevated piece of trail land which is nice to mix it up. I went on a fine sunny day which I gather is a rarity, in the winter this one can be windy!

Tramore is seaside down so afterwards there's loads of places of for post-run coffee and meet up.

Father Collins

I chose to do this Dublin parkrun whilst traveling in Ireland for my 250th run as I'd had a tip off that it was flat and fast - it was! Two laps of the park in a sort of 'U' shape, dominated by the wind turbines, this excellent small local park with a friendly setup was a joy to run round and they made us feel extremely welcome and helped me celebrate my 250th.

Almost all totally flat and on tarmac, I got my fastest time all year - my fifth fastest time ever and if you're in Dublin come here for a fast time, for sure! Get the train to Clongriffin station where it's a ten minute walk.

Couldn't see any facilities nearby, no café no toilets but there is a nearby SPAR shop for drinks before or after.

Malahide

January 2020
My fourth Irish parkrun and second in Dublin, it's superb with mega friendly people, set in the grounds of Malahide Castle. The best part is that it's flat and all run on tarmac even though it's a twisty course that partly goes through woods, and is great to run upon. Get their by getting the train to nearby Malahide railway station (On the DART network) and stay for incredible café that is here afterwards. A great place to go!

Nobles

The only parkrun on the Isle Of Mann, it takes place in Nobles park and the course is extremely varied! Paths, tarmac, trails and grass you run all on sorts here, and there's a nice downhill bit ... which of course means there's a nasty uphill bit too!

It's two and half anti-clockwise laps of the park and is quite challenging. During the 'TT' event week which takes place on the island a the end of May/beginning of June it moves location to another park that's even harder and hillier!

There is a great café in the park where you can go to afterwards, or take a stroll back down the hill the promenade seafront of the town of Douglas. Also, as they're a popular parkrun for tourists, they have a visitors guest book which you can sign as well which I thought was a nice touch!

Bois de Boulogne, Paris

Started in 2016, this had only been running a few weeks when I made a trip over specifically so that I could run here in Paris.

It's a 'heart shape' run where you run a clockwise loop 'outside' first, and then two small 'inside' anti-clockwise loops. It's in park with trees and is part on path, then trail, then a wide road-like stretch. Small but friendly, and there are usually more English people there than French!

Couldn't see any facilities nearby. The start is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Metro Station Porte d'Auteuil (on Line 10).

Crissy Fields, San Francisco

The world's most western-timezone parkrun! If you are the person to finish last here, you have the dubious honour of knowing you are the last park runner in the whole of the world that weekend.

So this is down by the water, right by the Golden Gate bridge and attracts a small number of runners. The course is a simple out and back with a loop at the end and on a stony trail a little bumpy in places, but is extremely flat! The day I went it was hot already which slowed me down otherwise you can easily get a very fast time here.

Afterwards there is a coffee/donut kiosk where everyone congregates afterwards.

Żary

There are several challenges in the obsessive world of parkrun, and one of them is known as the 'Alphabet Challenge' where you have to visit a parkrun that begins with every letter of the alphabet (apart from 'X' - as none start with X) and if you're in the UK, the tricky letters to do are I, U, J, Q and Z. And 'Z' is the trickiest of them all because the nearest 'Z' parkrun to the UK are two that are in Poland, Zielona and Zary. So we flew to Berlin and then drove for two hours to Poland to get there.

The course itself is in a woods, all on an undulating trail which is muddy when it's been raining - on the day I went it rained whilst I was doing the run, and yet I loved it. I loved it because they welcomed us so much, and appreciated our effort to speak Polish, there was plenty of "Hello's!" and handshakes, and hot lemon tea and cake, and the whole event was just delightful. The course is permanently marked out, and there is a dedicated information board about it (all in Polish - we couldn't read it!) but loved every moment. Watch the video to see more!

Zielona Góra

When I complete Zary (above) it was to get my 'Z' for the alphabet challenge, but later in the year, parkrun updated their website and the 'Z' no longer counted as it wasn't a pure Z, but a Z with an accent. So I had to go back to Poland and a different parkrun to reclaim my Z! Seven of us ran, getting their by staying in Berlin for the weekend and driving to the parkrun early in the morning, you can watch the video here.

It's set in some beautiful and extremely quiet woodland setting, and there is no elevation on the course, but it's run on a woodland trail with quite a few tree stumps along the way to avoid. They get so many UK tourists visiting that the run director kindly does a briefing in English!

It's two anti-clockwise laps with an out-and-back at one point, and there are no Marshals on the course - instead, look out for the permanent white signs around the course which tell you which way to go!

There are no facilities at the run, but we drove just 2 minutes down the road to the nearby Golden Arches for post-run well-earned sustenance! Thanks Poland for a great 'Z' parkrun!