Discover hidden gems for beginner and experienced runners with our guide to running urban London.

Whether you’re a born and bred Londoner or a visitor to the City, there are almost certainly hidden gems which you’ve yet to discover. Many people use running as a way to explore a large city, and very often happen upon an amazing building, or a beautiful monument which is slightly off the beaten track. Whether it’s a 5km circuit or a marathon distance, there are many places waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the routes which will take you to those urban places you might otherwise not have found.


Greenwich is home to the start line of the Virgin Money London Marathon each year, and although it may have been a bit quieter this year, the park is worth exploring. The oldest of the Royal Parks, it is also home to the Greenwich Meridian and a short run/walk from the Cutty Sark. The circumference is 2 miles – a full loop of the park may make up part of a long run perhaps, but it’s easy to put together some nice loops to make up the miles if you would rather stay in the park itself. Be prepared for some of the large hills, but the reward at the top is a panoramic view of the City, perfect for a post-run picnic.


Photo: Frances Everingham

Many joggers will be familiar with the central part of Regent’s Canal, but stop before they reach the cool urban paradise which is Hackney Wick. Adjacent to the Olympic Park (access is easy from Stratford), the canal takes in some of the best street art in London. The colourful narrow boats make for a picturesque run, and there are plenty of take-away coffee stops if you’re looking for your post-exercise treat. Once you’ve left Hackney Wick, the canal soon meets Victoria Park, where it starts to get much busier. However, the park boasts two cafes as well as some circular, flat running routes – perfect if you’re trying to beat your PB.

Photo: Sparra Everingham


Brick Lane is a good place to start if you’re interested in seeing some of London’s famous Street Art, but it’s best to run early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Well known as the heart of the East End, the name derives from brick and tile manufacture which started in the 15th century. The street is full of character, and its many different architectural styles tell the story of its evolution from the 15th century to the present day. 

From Brick Lane, it’s easy to drop into the Truman Brewery, where there are street art pieces from some of the most famous artists including Vhils, Shepard Fairey and Banksy. Pedley Street runs from Brick Lane through Allen Gardens, under the railway bridge and along the side of the former Nomadic Community Gardens. The art in this area is ever changing, but is usually of good quality.


Epping Forest is just on the outskirts of London, and could provide some respite from the hustle and bustle of the City. Epping Forest has over 20 miles of surfaced trails and around 6,000 acres of forest to explore on foot. Whether it’s a quiet lakeside stroll or a long run through the trees, the Forest is a perfect place for both walking and running. It is open access, which means that you can either follow one of the nine waymarked trails or the other paths, or venture off the beaten track and cut across country to discover hidden delights.  It encompasses a wonderful variety of terrain from the flat open grassland areas of Leyton Flats and Wanstead Flats to the particularly steep, hilly and densely wooded sections like High Beach and Great Monk Wood.


Hampstead Heath is the place to be if you’re practicing hill sprints, or just fancy a bit of a challenge. The Heath is hilly, but in return for your efforts there are some wonderful views. There is a 6-mile circuit which is well known, and covers most of the park. There is also a 1.5-mile loop around Parliament Hill which is a nice add on if you want to increase distance. There are also a number of independent coffee shops and bakeries nearby on Hampstead High Street, and some of the best shopping in London, too.

This blog post was contributed by Beth Henry, who works for This Is London Magazine. They are currently publishing online at as well as through their social channels; 

Instagram: @thisislondonmag

Twitter: @thisislondonmag 


They have new active content each issue, with new running/cycling routes and information about all things active in London. The magazine makes sure that their readers are up to date with the latest information on all things London. 

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