parkrun

Events

I've now been to 273 total parkruns at 115 different parkrun events (including 7 international ones), and often go to new locations to get my count up. My personal parkrun results are here.

The list here are all the ones I've been to with my thought and comments about them, along with a 1-5 rating of the terrain/how tough I think they are!

London

I've completed all 56 of the 56 parkruns in the Greater London area - known as #LonDone.

If you then include the twelve that are inside the M25 (Aldenham, Banstead Woods, Brooklands, Cassiobury, Dartford, Dartford Heath, Gunpowder, Hazlewood, Nonsuch, Rickmansworth, Roding Valley, South Oxhey) but outside of the Greater London boundary, then that takes the London+ total to 67 - I've done six of these so far.

There are then six more (Lullingstone, Brentwood, Black Park, Homewood, Reigate Priory, Squerryes Winery) which are just outside the M25 area which some people still consider as part of London++, then that takes the 'London' total to 73 - I've done three of these so far.

Below is the parkruns I've visited (in Green) in the London area, and (in Red) the ones I've yet to do.

Terrain

Along the way, I'm also in search of the flattest - and therefore most likely the fastest - parkrun courses. Parkruns rated '1' are the easiest, and the ones where you should be able to record your best times, those rated '4' and '5' are the hardest, and your times will be slower! There is also a separate list of other events where parkrun friends contributed their gradient ratings to other parkruns down below too - can we get all of the UK parkruns listed on here?

Terrain gradient ratings

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 - A hilly course with several steep gradients
5 - Steep hill course! Lots of gradients!

I estimate that you can add on 20-30 seconds to your time for every increase in gradient over a '1' rated course.

There is also the impossible zero gradient course, but for that the course has to be as flat as a running track!

Others

Also worth looking at, is the superb blogt7 list of London parkruns here, by Steven Stockwell where he has blogged and reviewed all the ones he has been too, along with photos - an invaluable guide if you're going to a new parkrun.

London Parkruns

Ally Pally

Alexander Palace has a summer and a winter course - I went in the winter which is supposedly slightly faster, but still found it really tough going! 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! Good views though as you're high up.

There is a cafe and toilet but they're a walk away from the start. Best way to get there is to use Alexander Palace station, and not Wood Green on the Piccadilly Line. Gets around 150 people, good local friendly turnout with lots of regulars, and would come back in the summer to see what it's like!.

Toilets: Yes, but a walk a away Cafe:Yes, but not not near the start/finish

Barking

Two 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 cafe 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.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

Elevation Chart - Goes between 6 and 10 metres, an elevation of 4 metres in total

 

Beckenham Place

It'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!

The west side of the park is right by the railway line, so you can race yourself against a Thameslink train as they pass by.

As one of London's newer parkruns, there aren't any facilities yet, 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 by 11am too! Fast processing.

Toilets: No Cafe: No, but there is a shop/coffee place at the station

 

Beckton

Two 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, and 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.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

 

Bedfont Lakes

Two clockwise laps of the park which is 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.

Toilets: Yes

 

Bethlem Royal Hospital

[Ran here on 25th May 2019]

Here's a wonderful thing - a parkrun setup in the ground of a hospital - the first parkrun on NHS propery.. Bethlem Royal is a psychiatric 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. It's a '2' but in the winter when it's wet and muddy it'd be a '3'.

To get there, there nearest railway station is Eden Park, you can drive to, and there is cafe with toilets on site as well which is great to use.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Bexley

A 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 are 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

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Brockwell Park

Easy 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 cafe too! Meanies.

Also, they don'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.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Bromley

A flattish course that's half on grass, half on tarmac. I say 'flattish' because there is an almost unnoticeable slight incline just after the start, but its there. What really affects it is the grass, which makes it feel bumpy, and hence a '2' rating, although '1.5' might be fairer. It will get muddier and slower in the winter though.

They get lots of people - they average 500. but there is a nice big wide start, facilities, friendly people, place to lock bikes 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 I think is the fastest I've ever got my time though, which is rather fantastic.

Toilets:Yes Cafe: No, but they offer tea, coffee and water!

 

Burgess Park

It's flat, it's fast, and I love it! One one my favourite parkruns. It's a 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 cafe 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 possessions at the finish line.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Bushy Park

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

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.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Gradient 1Canons Park

This 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!

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, this making it a doddle to get there on public transport.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Gradient 1Catford

"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, and a lot on grass - going to be muddy in winter - meant that this fair weathered runner who likes tarmac did not enjoy this course, and it's not for me. 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!

It's a two-and-a-half lap clockwise coursem with the start/finish by a bandstand with a cafe and toilets right nearby.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Clapham Common

Two 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 (event No. 3!) it was really well Marshalled which is 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 cafe 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.

It's a '2' for terrain, but in the winter/wet/rainy conditions this will get really muddy, so you may only want to do it in the dry. Great to have a second parkrun in Wandsworth borough, the push to get one in Battersea Park continues!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes - but not near the start/finish, a short walk away.

Gradient 1Crane Park

One 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, there is a sudden sharp turn to finish at the 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, better to drive with limited on street parking.

Usually gets under 200 runners with a narrow start, and one short funnel with one bar code scanner.

Toilets: No Cafe: No


Gradient 1
Crystal Palace

This 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,

But 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. It's not much more complicated - I got lost and went the wrong way due to their being no marshall at one point - and the course now feels longer than 5Km, several people on their GPS watches are now recording it at 5.1 and 5.2Km, which means I no longer enjoy this course.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Dulwich Park

A three-lapper, 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 cafe afterwards too to grab a cuppa.

Usually gets around two hundred people, two bar codes scanners at the end with a funnel.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Finsbury Park

July 2013
Finsbury 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 cafe in here in the park where everyone goes afterwards to chat, and process the results

July 2019
Revisited on a cooler day and got a CB beating my time from six years ago.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Foots Cray Meadows

London's 53rd parkrun started in July 2019, it's almost all on grass and trail with only about 100m on tarmac path. A big clockwise loop, with then a smaller clockwise loop, and on the dry summer week that I went they were struggling for volunteers to be marshals, and I went wrong and started onto a third loop when I should have been heading for the finish! It's 'flat', but it's mostly on bumpy grass which could churn up into mud during the winter, hence it's a '2', but I'm giving it a '3' for it's bumpiness. Nearest station is Albany Park but it's a a walk from the station, most people that went drove and parked in the car park by the farm shop.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes - as part of a delightful farm shop, that also give you 10% off if you show them your parkrun barcode!

 

Fulham Palace

Taking place in Bishop's Park 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.

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 cafe afterwards. Get there by using the 220 bus.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Gladstone Park

Two 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.

Dollis Hill on the Jubilee line is under a 10 minute walk away from the park/start point.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Greenwich

Gradient 1Nowhere 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 good facilities. Free parking on the weekend too if you drive there..

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Grovelands

Gradient 1A 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 cafe in the park, I was told that it doesn't open until 10.30! Couldn't see any toilets either.

On the week I went thought, there was frost and ice on the paths, so we ran on the grass alongside the tarmac! Would love to go back on a summers day when it won't be such a slog.

Toilets: No Cafe: Yes, but not open at 09.30!

 

Gradient 1

Gunnersbury

My spiritual parkrun home! The first parkrun I ever did was here, and is the course I've run most - over 100 times.

The original course was a figure of eight (one lap) course that went in a clockwise direction around the edge of the park. This would change during the winter when it was too muddy to be an anti-clockwise course.

Then a combination of works in the park, and it becoming so popular that it now regular gets 500 people mean that it's been changed again, and involves two different clockwise loops - done twice, all on tarmac with a small undulation. There is a brand new cafe too which give you 10% off with a parkrun barcode.

There is a car park, but the E3 bus stops right outside, and Acton Town tube station a five minute walk away.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes, where the organisers go to, to process the results right after the race

 

Gradient 1

Hackney Marshes

A 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 loved it - everyone was very friendly.

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

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes, including excellent bacon sandwiches!

 

Hampstead Heath

An interesting one this, they have two courses 'A' and 'B' shown on their page and I assumed that course 'B' was their winter course.

But their preference is to use start 'A' and is the one use most weeks. The course 'B' start is used when when the Heath authorities let the space around start A for other activities (e.g. fairs and school activities) which maybe 6-8 weeks of the year.

The week I went, I think I got a course 'B' week, which 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!

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

A challenging course, you won't PB here but definitely has great and varied scenery.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Hanworth

I went along (to complete my LonDone) a few weeks after it had started. Get there by using Feltham train station, and weirdly it's actually really close to Crane Park, but Hanworth has a junior event and from that sprang the demand for an adult event.

It'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 cafe but there are shops nearby for this great new parkrun!

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Harrow

Three 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 facilities, great little setup..

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Harrow Lodge

Not 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-lapper (which is rare in London), on mostly grass (which gets muddy when wet) but small parts of it also on tarmac. 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 told that a white building in the middle of the park was a cafe 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.

Not flat, lots of undulating parts, gets a '3' for its rating therefore.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Highbury Fields

Five (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 despite this being a '2' you can get a fast time here if you push it a little on the downhill stretch.

Toilets: No Cafe: No (But lots of local shops nearby)

 

Hilly Fields

"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 cafe 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!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Hoblingwell

Get the train to St Mary Cray, and it's a ten minute walk (good warmup!) up the hill to get to the grassy area where it's ran. Yes it's 90% on grass, a small amount of tarmac paths meaning that in the winter .. yes it churns up quite badly with mud, so maybe it's one for the summer.

The course make two short loops around by the start, and then two longer loops around the muddy section and then you finish by running the small loop that you did at the start again but this time in reverse, back to the finish.

I went on a day when there were less than 50 people there, and there is something delightfully charming about going to a 'small' parkrun again that doesn't feel like it's swamped with people, and this made me love the course, even though I struggled with the mud!

There is a club house nearby, with toilets and tea and drinks for afterwards.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Kingston

It'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 cafe and toilets and seating area, and on the day I went they were handing out free bananas to people at the end!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Lloyd Park

Two anti-clockwise laps of an extremely hilly and rugged landscape in a park that is also used for cross country running. Even more horrendous to do when muddy after it's been raining. You have to climb through a rise of 44 metres all on muddy grass ... ouch! Averages around 200 people.

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 organisers are 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 cafe immediately next to the start/finish.

Yes, it's London's toughest course - but a very rewarding one once you've done it.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes


Mile 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..

Toilets: Couldn't find any...
Cafe: No, but a Coffee Van Man comes along!

 

Northala

Two laps 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 cafe to go to afterwards, and a couple of nearby 'mounds' to climb for a view and a good warm-down exercise afterwards.

Toilets:Yes
Cafe:Yes

Oak Hill Park

In north London lies a parkrun with the world 'Hill' in its name that is not at all hilly! In fact, it's easier than Wanstead Flats, which has go the world 'flats' in its name. It's all on tarmac, it's three anti-clockwise loops, and there is a slight gradient up towards the end of each loop, but it's not a lot of effort.

I came by car, ample parking space and people gather at the end point, and at 9am prompt there is a 5-minute walk down to the start point. There is a building with toilets and cafe, and the usually get around 150 people. 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, and I definitely want to come back here and do it again.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

Elevation - Goes between 42 and 50 metres, an elevation of 8 metres in total

 

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 though so expect planes roar above you 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 beautiful friendly small vibe about it, which other parkruns used to have but have lost as they've grown too large Many 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.

Toilets: Yes, in the sports centre
Cafe: Yes, through a serving hatch outside

Orpington

Steeper than it looks! This is 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! In the winter, it gets muddy and would easily make it a '3' in terms of terrain.

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 cafe which sells snacks and drinks and is open before the run.

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!

Toilets:Yes
Cafe:Yes


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 Osterely tube it is about a 10-15 minute walk away from the station. There is a great cafe area in the grounds to gather afterwards.

UPDATE: In 2018 they changed their course so it's a lot better now. WIll go back at somepoint to try it out!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes


Peckham Rye

On the Parkrun website, the course description is '...entirely on tarmac is mainly flat and therefore a potential PB course' - which is not the case, as there's a significant slope at the end of each lap by which the third time, you feel it! It's a delightful park though, but the course is very twisty-and turny, which also makes it a non-PB course. Dulwich has less bends (as is nearby) and Burgess and Southwark are almost certainly faster, but a great park, friendly setup and one I'd go to again.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Pymmes

Three anti-clockwise laps in a small park, very flat and all run on tarmac. Usually gets only about 60 runners, a small but super-friendly parkrun!

The first time I went here I'd hoped for a low-numbered placing as its London's least-attended parkrun, but on the Saturday that I went a local school was doing a charity run and they had their most runners ever! I still managed to finish 21st though, on another week I might have been in the top 10! Definitely one I am coming back to once I have completed all of London.

There is on street parking, and the nearest public transport is Silver Street Overground station which has trains every 15 minutes.

Therea are toilets in the park which are now closed, and no cafe in the park .. but the there is a cafe a short walk back by the station.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Raphael

Pronounced 'Ray-Fell' this is an undulating course that is all on tarmac. 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! The friendly team meet you at the the parks bandstand, and there is a great atmosphere.

But it's not as flat as I thought it was going to be! There are TWO cafe with toilets in the park, only the northern one was open before 9am. Parking is to the south, across the other side of the road, or the nearest station is Romford from where you can walk in under ten minutes. Definitely one for the summer.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Richmond

One of the earliest (fifth in the country?) parkruns to be established, set in stunning Richmond park too 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 - this is not a a fast/PB course. It undulates, although it mainly on a downward slope for the first half on the way out, and then it curves around and is then obviously on a mainly uphill slope towards the finish, with a small steep section just before the end!

The nearby toilets cost 20p to use, and they meet after in a cafe 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!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

 

Riddlesdown

'1.6 laps around the top of the hill!' it was described to me - and it is. Mostly on grass trail which can get muddy, and terribly muddy in a wet winter. There is no tarmac at all here, and some undulation making at least a '2', but the tough terrain take it to a '3'.

It's flattish - but to GET there 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.

There is a 'registration' desk right by the entrance to the park, but the start is a good 10 minute walk away, The finish is also a 5 minute walk back to the 'registration' desk area.

Small though, and VERY FRIENDLY on the day I went, the numerous volunteers were all great to chat to. Liked that.

Toilets: No Cafe: Not in the park, but just down the road there are various shops and cafes to meet afterwards..

 

Roundshaw Downs

Two anti-clockwise laps around grassy trails and some woods - none of this is on tarmac, and there are some definite gradients here! I wouldn't like to do it after it's been raining either, thankfully it was mostly dry on the day that I went.

It's a small setup, but I liked how low-key it was, not over-organised like others I've been too, really liked it. And as the 19th Parkrun to be setup in the country, it still has one of the original timers - a box that's the size of your hand!

Toilets: No Cafe:No, Instead the lovely and friendly organisers go to the nearby LA Fitness, or McDonalds to get a coffee and process the results.

Southwark

Three anti-clockwise loops around the edge of the park. Almost totally flat with several bends - one hairpin. Completely on paved fasts, a nice fast circuit, one of London's fastest and a favourite of mine.

Averages arouns 250 runners each week, with a short funnel and two barcode scanners. There nearest station to the entrance is Surrey Quays on the Overground, it's less than a 5 minute walk from the station to the start point.

Toilets: No Cafe: No, but it's a really short walk (back by the station) to The Surrey Docks Wetherspoons pub who serve breakfast and where everyone gathers afterwards to process the results.

 

South Norwood

One of London's newest runs, it's small and I hope it grows in numbers and volunteers - because it needs them. On the day I visited, there was confusion about where the finish was, if it was safe to leave bags and coats anywhere, and the run director was so quietly spoken most people couldn't hear them speak.

The run though is two clockwise laps of the park on rugged terrain with some paths, and I'm certain that it would not be fast in the winter after it's been raining!

Sadly, there's no nearby cafe here afterwards, people just drifted off at the end, and I don't know if or where people gathered for a post-run tea or process the results.

UPDATE: In July 2019, they changed their course so that it's now 5.0Km (and not 5.1 that it was before) and is now much better organised!

Toilets: ?? Cafe: No

 

Sunny Hill

It's got the word 'hill' in the name, it was never going to be flat. I had to do it as London's newest (54th) parkrun but on the day I went in April 2019, it was also very warm even at 9am, and it was a slog to get round! It's a figure-of-eight course (twice) with several undulating parts (all on tarmac) and two particularly steep hilly bits which take it out from you. View from the top though, obviously! And then a superb cafe (with toilets) right by the finished to rock up to afterwards. A great new London parkrun ... if you like hill, that is!.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Tooting Common

Wandsworths first parkrun - finally! 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. 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 cafe though and toilets too, good facilities.

Toilets: Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Valentines Park

Jump on the tube to Mile end, or the train to Ilford and Valentines Park is in-between. It's two anti-clockwise laps pf the park with a 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 - which may just be the only place though where I've to avoid Geese waddling about from the nearby pond!

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

 

Victoria Dock

London's fastest parkrun! It's so flat! It's so fast! In fact ... I'd dare to suggest that it may just be the fastest course in the whole of the UK! Come here if you're trying for a PB ...

A parkrun that's not in a park! Instead you run along the tarmac of the north side of Victoria Docks, all the way past the ExCeL centre, do a 180 and come back again, and then an 'out and back' along the south side too, to the finish. And you get to run under the Dangleway! (Cablecar). Actually, that's quite a fun way to get to this parkun - get the tube to North Greenwich then get the Dangleway over.

The course is all on street-paving, and dockside tarmac with 'street furniture' (bollards, benches) along the way to avoid, it's not a path, the course is quite open! But it's well signed, and coloured cones are put out. There are toilets, and they provide free tea and coffee at the end which is great!

As it's super flat and all on concrete, you will get a fast time here if that's what you're after.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No, but free drinks are organised, and there are shops nearby.

 

Walthamstow

Walthamstow parkrun isn't that near the centre of Walthamstow and isn't in a park either! Instead, it's three anti-clockwise laps around a football playing field (parts of a sports centre) all on grass, rugged and slopey in places and I find out somewhat tough going. The volunteers and organisers are all great though, and there are good facilities here with toilets and even changing rooms in the adjacent sports centre. I couldn't find a cafe, but there were drinks vending machines.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Vending machines

 

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead 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 will slow you a little.

I went on a week when it had been raining and found it horrendously muddy and not at all flat! 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!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

 

Wimbledon Common

Two anti-clockwise laps in the woods and shadows of the trees. It's all woodland trails, with several tree stumps to avoid in places! Not the fastest of courses, and the '2' becomes a '3' in the winter when it's been raining, as it gets muddy - none of it is on tarmac.

There's quite a walk (longer than I was expecting) from the meeting point to the start, the finish is back near where people congregate for the briefing.

Toilets/Cafe: I forgot to look!

 

Wormwood Scrubs

Two laps of grassy paths that gets very muddy and cross-country like in the winter - so probably easier in the summer. Usually gets less than 50 people, a small but friendly event. The course is rugged though, and I would say a little uninspiring - I've run here twice though, and have run it in reverse as well which they did on their first anniversary.

Toilets: Yes Cafe:Yes

 

How to get there

Also, just for fun I created a parkrun tube map, that show you also the nearest tube stations to the London parkrun venues.

[Click on image here for a much larger version!]

 

London+ Parkruns

These are the parkruns that are outside the Greater London boundary, but inside the M25.

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-lapper (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.

Toilets : No, but there are a lot of trees in the wood ...
Cafe : No

Dartford

Two anti-clockwise laps of the delightful Central Park, a less than 10 minute walk from the railway stations.

It is on tarmac, and then with some section on grass/trail which I imagine would be sticky in the winter on a wet day. 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! Am giving it a gradient rating of '2' but on a bad weather day this might be a '3'.

The start/finish is next to the Dartford Harriers running track and building where there are toilets and a cafe which is open before the run! Get a cup of tea beforehand if you like.

On the day I went, I got my results email by 10:07, and results text through by 10:12, which is the absolute fastest that I have ever have it come through! Great stuff.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Hazelwood

Hazelwood - 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.

So '2' for gradient, going up to '3' in winter when the weather has been wet ...

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes (Some of the the best facilities I've ever seen at a parkrun)

 

Nonsuch

Two laps of a nonsuch park, a rugged course mostly on a dirt trail - some section of which obviously get really muddy and slow you down after it's been raining, and then several section on grass too. This is not a fast course!

A large friendly turnout of people though, often attracts several hundred and gets very busy. There is a great cafe though, toilets and facilities..

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

Rickmansworth

August 2019

A 15 minute walk from the station, it takes place in a park by the canal, hat also has lakes, and an aquadrome too! It's two clockwise laps but it can get busy with usually over 400 people going there, so it's congested at the start but thinned out kicky by the first 1Km.

The whole course is on flat tarmac so I liked it because it was fast! But it is quite twisty in places though and also it's not in the open with trees hugging the path and overhanging almost the whole way round. I do prefer a course that is in the open so that you can see where you're going and see what's coming up!

A great friendly atmosphere at the briefing which is right by the toilets and a cracking cafe too which is open by the time you've finished the run.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Roding Valley

January 2019

I visited in the winter when it was shockingly cold and many parkruns were called off due to ice, 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 other great thing about it is that it's totally flat - no hills whatsoever, so come here for a fast time. It's half on tarmac paths and half on grass, and is essentially a two-lapper that goes clockwise around the park.

Great vibe from friendly people, and it gets less than 200 so it's not too busy which is nice. But I couldn't see any toilets, and there's no cafe nearby - I wasn't sure where people went for a post run coffee. Also, to get there it's nearest to Loughton tube station (and a ten minute walk), not Roding Valley station!

Toilets : No
Cafe : No

 

London++ Parkruns

These are four parkruns which are just outside the M25, but some people still see as being 'London'. These are the ones I've been to.

Black Park

A 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!

There is a seating area/cafe at the end, 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.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Reigate Priory

It's a tough one, and I went in the winter when it's even tougher! At one point I slipped, tripped and fell and cut my leg open. It starts flat, but soon goes up a hill into the woods, through a rugged landscape that undulates and gets muddy and then down an awkward sloping hill the other side... oh, and you do it all twice, anti-clockwise.

There is a paid-for car park in the nearby Morrisons, but a great cafe and toilet in the park itself.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

Lullingstone

You can get there by train to Eynsford station, but most people drive - and it costs £2.50 to park in the car park. The course is 90% on grass, a little on trail no tarmic and it's so hilly! But yet 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 do it again, and I loved it. The organisers here that no one comes here for a fast time, they do it because it's a challenge, and in a superb location.

It's within the ground of a Kent Country Park which mean good toilets and a posh cafe - they give you 10% if you show a parkrun barcode. I ran this on a dry/sunny September day, it must be bad in the winter when it's all wet & muddy! One for trail shoes if you have them.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

Other UK Parkruns

Other parkruns I've ran at around the UK ...

Bognor Regis

Set in the delightful Hotham Park, this is four-lap course, clockwise except that the first lap is a shorter than the three that follow which may catch you out! Extremely flat, all on tarmac, the course does twist and turn quite a lot and if you go on a day with several hundred people it can get a bit congested in the pinch points. I love a varied course in a park with changing scenery though and so lapped it up with a fast time! There's also a miniature railway in the park as well, and you run over the tracks several times!

The most bizarre thing happened at the end though - they give you your token, and then scan it inside the funnel as well! which I found odd because I don't run around with my barcode on me, and it leads to congestion in the funnel. So I had to go and get it an rejoin the finishing runners (who were still coming in) to get my barcode scanned. I cannot see any logic in doing this way at all.

There is a GREAT cafe 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!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: No

 

Clair

Should really be called 'Haywards Heath' parkrun, as that's where it is, but it's located in Clair Park in HH, so takes its name from that. I loved the it was literally a 3 minute walk from the stations - easy to get to by train - and loved even more that it's 100% ALL on tarmac, no mud here!

The paths thought are very narrow in some places, but the run averages around 200 people so it doesn't get congested. If it ever grew to be bigger than this though it would be a problem.

You run four and a half laps around the park, with a sharp uphill part! But then also a nice looong downhill part as well to even it out. They don't allow dogs to run here with people, because of the narrow paths, and you have to stick to to left if you get lapped (likely!) as the faster people catch up with you in the course. Great people, and free chocolates at the end!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: No

Conwy

My first Welsh pakrun, it's really to the east of the river by Llandudno Jubction - which is where you go to if you're getting there by train, and it's down by the water by the RSPB reservce. 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. It's by the water, and you get a glorious view of Conwy castle too before the halfway mark. Say "Hello" to Bob at the Bend! (The 180 turn), and when you get off the ramp on the way back, use the momentum to spring all the way to the finish for a fast time. I loved it!

There are no facilities, but there's a retail park and supermarket nearby-ish which you can use.

Toilets: No
Cafe: No

Eastbourne

First thing to note about Eastbourne - it's not really in Eastbourne! The nearest station is one up the line - Hampden Park - and even then, it's a good 20-25 minutes walk from there to the park.

The park is great though, and I came here because I was told it was very flat and very fast - and it is! 80% of it is on tarmac, but the first 800m and last 800m (repeated) are on grass which can't get a bit bumpy in dry summer months, and because of this I'll grade it '2', and not '1'. (Only courses which are 100% tarmac/paths can ever be '1')

In the winter if it gets muddy they change the course slightly so that it IS all on tarmac, but it becomes a more boring 'out and back' but I'd be interested in going back and doing this and see which I prefer.

On the day I went though - in the boiling hot sunshine of the heatwave of summer 2018 - I got a Season's Best, my fastest time of the year, so yes .. it IS a fast course! And to cap it all off, one of the lovely volunteers gave me a lift back into town afterwards.

Sadly there's no facilities here, no cafe or toilets (use the loo before you come!) but the great course more than makes up for it.

Toilets: No
Cafe: No

 

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 odo, and tents that make it feel like you're at a fairground and not a parkrun, and it feels like you almost get berated in a literal 'Repeat after me' fashion to "Not forget your barcode" by the person who gives the first time brief who also spends time bragging about all the parkruns they've completely which is totally unecessary.

It therefore unfortunately completely 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.

Toilets: No
Cafe: Yes

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 cafe and toilets. Definetely one I want to come back to - i did it on a hot day, and would have done faster had it of been milder!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes - but in the cafe that's a good five minute walk from the start/finish point.

 

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 but personally I think Victoria Docks is the flattest parkrun I've ever run! Buy my word it is flat and fast 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 cafes 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.

Had a great run and got a cracking time here which I was thrilled with!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes, several.

Hastings

One of the things that's hard to get right at parkrun events is the right level of welcoming people, and repeating the same-information-week on week, without it sounding too repetitive. Hastings have got it spot on with some of the best volunteers I've encountered. And I love the course, a flat out-and-back along the tea front (with two small slopes), this will obviously be chilly in the winter right against the sea, but I went on a lovely sunny September morning. I liked to the the 180 turn happened in an anti-clockwise direction too, not clockwise as with all the others you usually encounter, and I preferred it. Nearest train station to get there is West St. Leonards, although can be walked from Leonards Warrior Square as well.

It's flat, it's fast. it's one get a good time at, it's the superb Hastings parkrun!.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes, in the local 'BoBeep' cafe where the results are processed afterwards.

 

Hove Promenade

One of three parkruns in Brighton & Hove, this one is right on the seafront and probably as flat as they come! Flatter than Southsea? Maybe the magical '0' terrain? Well, no - but it's clearly a '1'. Two laps where you head west first, do a U-turn, run back past the start and for a bit, and then another U-turn back to the start again, and that's half way - do it again for the whole 5Km.

I went on a nice day in September with little wind. I bet come winter this is going to be cold with the wind coming in off of the sea! But a great course for fast times if that's what you're after.

There's a cafe here too, and the registration area uses one of the beach huts which is a fun touch!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

 

Ipswich

One of only two letter "I" parkruns in the country (along with Inverness), 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!)

Oh, and it's a 30 minute walk from the station if you're getting their by train.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

Jersey Farm

Located in St. Albans,, this is very handy if you're trying to complete your parkrun 'Alphabet' to get your letter J which is why a lot of people come here! (Otherwise, you previously had to fly out to the island of Jersey to do the parkrun there!)

They have a summer and winter course, when I ran in February it was the winter course - slightly muddy - a combination of grass and bridleways, gently undulating some places, felt not too challenging to do, and really enjoyed it. Two clockwise laps with a small uphill spur at the start. The approach to the finish was uphill as well! Oh, and one of the best 'first timers' briefings I have seen as well with an enthusiastic, encouraging and clear and easy to hear person doing it - nice.

You can't really park here, so get the train / bus / cycle. There's also no facilities here, but the town is not too far away which is where they gather to do the results.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

Kings Lynn

Three anti-clockwise laps of The Walks in King's Lynn, couple of tight turns and momentary gradients but mostly flat. Averages around 100 runners a week, with a cafe afterwards. Lots of local streets for on-street parking.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

 

Littlehampton Prom

August 2019
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 cafes 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.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes, but a short walk away.

 

Longrun Meadow

August 2019
Taunton's parkrun is ten minute walk from the town centreand 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 cafe two minutes walk away, and overall it's a well frequented, and good organised run!.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

 

Mole Valley

September 2019

Part 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, am 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 cafe/toilet setup afterwards as well which you would expect, with an outside seating area too.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

 

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!
Cafe: No

 

Pegwell Bay

May 2019
"It's a fast course" someone told me ... "because it's 150 metres short of 5K!". And so I turned up having got a taxi from Ramsgate station (£8) on the early train to the brilliant Pegwell Bay County Park, easily one of the most friendliest parkruns I've been so, with so many free tea/cakes and helpful people and I loved it.

I loved it even more when the two anti-clockwise laps of a narrow trail path turned out to be not that windy on the way out (sheltered by trees) and the wind behind me on the way back, and almost completely flat. And yes - it seems the course may be 100-150 metres short of 5Km, which did indeed lead to me getting an all-time PB here! And that's what we love about Pegwell Bay, come here to get an all-time PB!

Around 200 people, a perfect friendly setup, it does cost to park though and you do really have to drive here - I caught a lift back to the station off of another runner who had driven here to make my train.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes, as well as free tea coffee and snacks brought by people.

 

Penrith

August 2019
If you're on holiday in the Lake District and looking for a flat parkrun, then this is it! Taking place around the edge of playing fields of the Frenchfield Sports centre it's two anti-clockwise loops but includes a couple of interesting 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 it's easy to whiz around this one and get a decent time.

Loads of people come and volunteer here and provide cakes and tea and drinks for a really nice community atmosphere. Toilets too!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: No, but tea/coffee cake and snacks provided!

 

Pontefract

July 2019
I came to meet my friend Ian and tick off another one towards the four you need to do for the Running Challenges 'Full Ponty'. Located at Pontefract Park and Racecourse, the start is right by a lake which you immediately do a small anti-clockwise lap of, then it's round clockwise 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.

It's all on either gravel trail or tarmac, and I recorded a fast time here so it is a potential PB course, and afterwards everyone goes to Pontefract Squash & Leisure club just around the corner for tea, coffee and great bacon butties. Most people drive to get there, but Pontefract Tanshelf station is the nearest if you're going by train.

Toilets: No
Cafe: Leisure club nearby

 

Pontypridd

June 2019
I was in Cardiff for the weekend, but came here specifically to knock out one of the three runs require for the 'Fully Ponty' challenge, where you have to run at the three parkruns that are Pontypridd, Pontypool and Pontefract.

Dead easy to get to on the train up from Cardiff, the delightful park with cafe and toilets is just moments walk from the railway station. There's an initial short lap, and then 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.

With 600+ people when I went the start was crowded and I found myself bunched in for the first 30 seconds and I ran on the grass to the side of the path so as to be able to run freely. It was also odd that the run director insisted that people should not run with 'two headphones' but use one only - I've never heard of this before, and as it's not against the rules and some people need it to run it was nice to see people running with headphones and both earbuds in anyway.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

Poole

One of the flattest parkruns 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.

It's really popular event and gets between 700-800 people a week, meaning though that the start is congested, and even some narrow points on the boating lake on your second lap can be a little congested too.

At the end, there's free water, and other drinks and snacks in the pavilion where there are toilets too.

The one bizarre thing I found is that it took me ten minutes of walking around to find the bar-code scanners. For reasons that I cannot figure out they hide them round the side/back of the pavilion, where it's not obvious to a non-regular that that is where they would be. Make your scanners more prominent please, Poole!

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

Poolsbrook County Park (Chesterfield)

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 cafe too where everyone gathers, and a super friendly and lovely people to chat to there and at the end as well!

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

Portobello

Edinburgh's other parkrun is three laps of a great varied park all on a tarmac path, with a river running through it which you cross a few times. The start is on an immediate downward slope, but you have to run up it later! Gets a bit narrow under a bridge by the river, and an uphill slope to the finish! This might arguably be a '2.5' on the terrain rating.

There are no facilities though which is a bit of a pain and meant that I had to wee behing a tree in the bushes. But come here instead to avoid the crush of 500+ people at the main Edinburgh parkrun, which has now grown too large.

Toilets: No
Cafe:No

 

Portsmouth Lakeside

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 lakside .. meaning that in wet weather, or if it's been raining, there are puddles eveywhere which are difficult to avoid. A nice summer course, but I did not enjoy it in the winter.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: There's a Starbucks right by the start/finish.

 

Preston Park

There are four parkruns in Brighton and this is one of the easiest ones with it all being on tarmac, and only one short (100m) section that goes uphill slightly.

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. Gets about 400 people, and there is a cafe and toilet immediately next to where everyone meets to start and finish. Nicely organised too with a good vibe.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

Queens (Belfast)

I came along purely to get my 'Q' and that's one of the few good things about this event. It's meant to start at 09.30, but the Run Director didn't start the briefing until that time, meaning it started late. The map on the website also shows the start and finish points in the wrong location, and they pump music out of a PA system so has no 'local park' charm whatsoever, and in fact isn't in a park but the grounds of a sports centre, meaning that at one point there is an access road where cars drive across the course which is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I had a "No, after you" moment with the driver of a car. Not a good event for runners at all, and is a twisty undulating course.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes, in the over-organised area

 

Reading

A nice flat course - albeit on grass and not tarmac! 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 which is right by the river. 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!

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

Toilets : No
Cafe : No

 

Redcar

I arrived on a later train as the previous one was canceled when coming here (Nearest station : Redcar Central) so ran down the start and joined in after people had already started! Didn't diminish my enjoyment of this great parkrun though, which is three anti-clockwise laps of Locke Park. It's all on tarmac - which I love - and is totally flat - which I also love - so gets a '1' for its gradient rating. 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 like this because it makes it interesting to do (reminded me of Peckham Rye in London) and an interesting course.

The one odd thing is that I have my barcode on a wristband/flatband, and the scanner gave me a look that said "What is this?" and had to check with someone else that it was OK to scan. Yes it's OK to scan, it's my barcode!

Toilet/Cafe : Forgot to check as I had to dash off in a hurry!

 

Seaford Beach

New in March of 2019, it's right down on the beach where the wind blows in! And boy was it windy the week I went!

But it's brilliant for a fast time because It's a totally flat - all concrete - course, an "out and back" with just one small tricky part where you have to run around a martello tower, but apart from that it's dead simple. But 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 cafe RIGHT there though, with toilets which is great.

It's also a 2 minute walk from Bishopstone railway station (dead handy to get to), the train there get in at 08.45, perfect to walk up, and you should be able to (as I did) get the 09.55 train back out again! Would like to do it on a non-windy day though, heh!

Toilets/Cafe: Both, yes!

 

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' cafe 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!

Toilets/Cafe: Both, yes!

 

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!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

 

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 parl, 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, cafe, etc .. and is just a few minutes walk from Stretford Tram stop to get here. Love it!

Toilets/Cafe: Very much both, yes!

 

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 ...

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes

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.

Toilets: No
Cafe: No

 

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.

Toilets: No
Cafe: Coffee van

 

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 parl by the rugby club pavillion, which is where the barcode scanning takes palce, 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 undefoot, but on a dry day this is a fast-grass course, and I really enjoyed it!

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

 

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 fieldy 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 cafe/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!

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Oh Yes! A great one.

 

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.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes, several.

 

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!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: No

 

Worthing

August 2019
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 cafe and toilets, there was a queue at the toilets when I went to use them though, and only just made the start!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: No

 

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:!5.

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. Not the best organised parkrun I've been to.

Toilets: No
Cafe: Coffee van

 

International Parkruns

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

 

Johnstown - Wexford (Ireland)

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!

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Clubhouse, yes

 

Tramore, Waterford (Ireland)

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, Dublin (Ireland)

I chose to do this 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 cafe no toilets but there is a nearby SPAR shop for drinks before or after.

 

Nobles (Isle of Man)

The only parkrun on the island, 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 (The joke being it should be 'Three Legs' to match the Treskilion flag of Man) 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 cafe 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!

Toilets:Yes
Cafe:Yes

 

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 coud run here.

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.

Elevation Chart - Goes between 1-7 meters, possibly the flattest parkrun I have ever run

 

Zary (Poland)

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.

I flew to Berlin and then drove for two hours to get there, to see this I made a video about it.

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!

 

 

parkrun

 

parkrun is a free 5Km that takes place every Saturday morning in local parks all around the UK (and in fact now, all over the world)

It started out as the Bushy Park Time Trail in 2004, and has since grown from there, completely run by volunteers, and gives everyone an opportunity for everyone - no matter what your running pace is - to get out, be active, social, and best of all be healthy every weekend morning!

Many people just run at their local parkrun, but others (like myself) have become a little more obsessive about it, and are being parkrun 'tourists' and running at as many different venues as possible.

At the moment, I'm just trying to get round all the London ones, and list/map them all here...