How Good Is Your Town To Run In?

Do you want to get into running but you’re put off by the big hill outside your front door? Are you gradually getting bored of the same local routes? Or perhaps you’ve recently moved and your running performance has suddenly nose-dived? Perhaps the issue isn’t you, but your surroundings.

By analysing the terrain, number of paths, weather conditions, and number and type of running routes, we have created a comprehensive rank of UK towns and cities to reveal the easiest and hardest places to run in the UK, for experts and beginners alike. Welcome to your new running route planner.

The Easiest Places In The UK To Go For A Run

Where in the UK is best for those wanting to get into running? When considering the volume of easy-running routes and the terrain of the town alongside the other factors, Cambridge comes top. The city is the 13th flattest in the study and has the 5th largest variety of running routes. Combining this with its large volume of total paths (599) and paved paths (354), the East Anglian city is a runner's paradise. 


Runner-up Oxford has the 3rd largest total number of paths, and despite being nestled between the Cotswolds and Chiltern Hills is flatter than Cambridge (and the 10th flattest in the study). Gloucester rounds off the top three with the 4th highest total number of paths, the 2nd least windy conditions (with an average knot speed of 9.6), and the 10th least rain (with 15 clearer days than the study average).

The Best Places In The UK For Serious Runners

Seasoned runners looking to stretch themselves might want to consider towns and cities with greater terrain variety and higher volume of challenging runs. Prioritising these factors shifts around the running order. Gloucester came 12th for its number of easy running routes, but 5th when it comes to expert routes (with 67 to choose from), nudging it to the top spot and Cambridge to the 2nd. Oxford was relegated out of the top three by Milton Keynes, which offers runners a more varied terrain.

Most Challenging Locations

But what about Britain’s most challenging places to run? Sunderland fell into the bottom 10 for a miserable five factors, with an especially poor choice of both easy and challenging running routes, a wind speed of 11.7 knots, and 23 wetter days than the study average. 


Not faring much better is Swansea, where there is the 3rd least number of total paths (136 compared to the study average of 337), the 6th least number of paved routes, a limited choice of running routes, and higher than average wind speed. Middlesbrough is the next lowest scorer and finishes in the bottom 10 for the total number of paths, rainy days, terrain, and running routes.

Winners Per Category

We all have different running bug bears and preferences – what if you like to run in the rain or don’t mind going off-piste? The least windy place in the UK is Telford in Shropshire; the driest town is Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire; the city with the most easy running routes is Southampton in Hampshire; and the city with both the most challenging routes and greatest total number of paths is Edinburgh.

But to see the comprehensive rankings for every factor, and how your local town or city fared, check out our interactive tool above.

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